Yesterday Lucas Cairns and I said goodbye to the 2020-21 season by skiing the Adams Glacier. We were skeptical about finding good conditions anywhere on a day with 18K freezing levels, but my Edmunds Headwall trip from the previous week had me thinking there might still be some good skiing on the north side of Mt Adams. Besides, what better place to spend the first 100-degree day of the season than a north-facing glacier at 12,000 feet? We left Killen Creek Trailhead at 6AM, climbed the north ridge and topped out on The Pinnacle around 1. We had originally planned to ski a different line, but while ascending we felt that the snow on Adams Glacier looked more inviting. Strong winds on the upper mountain did little to delay the softening of snow surfaces, so we transitioned and dove in quickly.
The current route through the glacier weaves back & forth around interesting features with some fall-line skiing in between and plenty of exposure. It makes for a pretty awesome descent if you have the stomach for it. There is a huge bergshrund halfway down the route that is wide open and spans the entire glacier. Getting past it requires either a heroic huck or a traverse out onto NFNWR and back onto the glacier lower down. We chose the latter, but this option was not without its difficulties either. The traverse is steep, has massive exposure and crosses a slope where running water from above is splashing onto the snow and causing it to ice up. It was so hot that this surface had transformed into something like shaved ice, which was pretty manageable for us but will be problematic once normal temps return. On the lower glacier there were more good turns and a few mandatory hops over smaller crevasses. On the way out we ran into a large group of mountaineers planning to reverse our route the following day, i.e. climb Adams Glacier and descend the north ridge. Umm OK, good luck with that!
Here’s a video edit of the ski descent. This was my first time ever using a GoPro…something to work on next year, in addition to those ‘shrund hucks.