June 30-July 1, 2002, Mt. Adams, WA

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Jonathan on 9/10/02 8:57pm
4 Vancouverites headed for Mt. Adams over the Canada Day long weekend in order to summit and claim the peak in the name of the Queen and Country(!) After some deliberation as to the route, we decided to approach via the I-5, Portland and Hood River.

Around 5 in the evening on the 30th, we finally left the truck which was stopped by deadfall at around 5500 feet on the Cold Springs road. It's quite possible that the road will become driveable to the trailhead as soon as more deadfall is removed - some had been cut and cleared by the time we returned. We headed up the trail and were on skis by 6200 feet. Given 30 mph gusts above treeline, we opted to camp at about 8000 feet instead of heading for the Lunch Counter and spent a pleasant evening tucked in behind some small trees and behind little rock walls. During the evening the large flying saucer cloud over Adams dissipated, although the winds continued unabated.

We awoke to an incredible blue-bird sky on Canada Day. After making a slightly delayed alpine start, at 6:30, and, we bootpacked up about 500 feet, donned our skis around the Lunch Counter and headed up the South Climb. We quickly undonned them in favour of crampons when it became apparent that the snow was unforgivingly hard although one of our party had a minor adventure pushing the limits of his harscheisen a little too far. The crux of the climbing was the dietary issues that led two of our party to undertake the "leave no trace challenge" right in the middle of the headwall. (Don't worry - they succeeded.)

Both the false and main summits were being blasted by strong winds (gusty enough to knock over a person with skis on their back) so, after summiting around 12:45, and humming a few bars of "O Canada" (not many Canadians know the words) we beat a hasty retreat.

The snow directly below the main summit was rather unpleasant. It consisted of very rough, refrozen hardpack that wanted to shake us to death (good snow - you could turn and slow down on it) and large goldfish bowl size lumps of verglas (mysteriously bad snow - you could do very little with it). Two of us attached axes to our ski poles to make improvised self-arrest grips and Rich actually tried his out. He stopped after 25 feet or so but the goldfish bowls delivered a few bruises in return.

After getting a little lost, we finally found the headwall we climbed up. Being cautious, introspective, Canadians, we cramponed down a few feet before finding that the whole headwall had miraculously turned to corn. Two of us immediately hopped on our boards and the remainder of the party joined in about 500 feet later. We skied uninterrupted down to 8000 feet, level with our camp, on deepening but good snow and picked up our bivy gear. We managed to ski down to about 6300 feet before putting skis on our backs (you could probably ski a little further if you had better directional ability than we did) and wandered out the trail to the truck around 4:30pm.

All in all, Mt. Adams was a nice long ski, a reasonable longer climb, and a very, very long drive from Canada. After some deliberation, we decided to return the volcano to its original owners since we had done with it for the time being.


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2002-09-11 03:57:32