Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mount Adams

All the pics here: (click me)

If you have followed our adventures you might remember the pictures from our Mt Saint Helens climb last year. In the pics and writeup you might remember a few pics from the summit of St Helens where Adams was next door. Well the rough plan was to climb Adams next and this past weekend we made it happen.

Mt Adams is the 2nd highest peak in Washington state after Rainier. The south face of the mountain is known as a great first mountainieering climb since it is not very technical. All you need to climb the mountain is crampons, an ice axe, and a lot of energy. We managed to get together a gang that had all of these things and we all proved it this past weekend.

The week was a little crazy with work, life, picking up rental gear from REI (and some had to search around town for crampons when REI ran out) but in the end we headed out of town Friday afternoon. Natalie and I rolled out of Greenlake about 4:45 and after fighting through traffic we picked up Dan from his house around 5:30. Traffic was the theme for the day and by the time we got to Auburn area, picked up Laura and Matt from work, ate (mexican what else?), and got to the campsite it was midnight. We setup camp in the dark and were all passed out quickly.

After sleeping in Saturday we packed up camp and headed up the mountain. The first day was a climb from camp (5200ft) to what is called the lunch counter (9200ft). All of this climbing is done in 3.5 miles and completely kicked my ass. Even without gear it would be tough but after adding in all the ice axes, crampons and other climbing gear I think everyones pack was pushing 50lbs. It took us about 4.5 hours of hiking and popping through a hail storm before we got to our camping area. The camping areas on Adams are setup as stone rings since you are above tree level and the wind rips across. Luckily we found three great campsites next to one guy (Joe) who was already setup and kicking back. When we first rolled up I was thinking, man this guy is going to hate that we are butting into his private space looking up at the summit. Turns out Joe was up there solo and was happy to have camp mates. We all got along great and ended up climbing with Joe all the next day.

Saturday afternoon was a blur of setting up camp and trying to cram some food in our faces. I was so wiped out that I really don't remember much except for finishing Dan's dinner and deciding I was too lazy to cook my own. We all sacked out before the sun even set with the plan that we would get up at 4am to start the climb.

Well true to our hiking past everyone, including Joe, slept through their alarms (we knew he fit in) and we ended up peeking out of our tents at 4:30am wondering what had happened. It was pretty cool looking out of the tent and seeing headlights dotting the slope from other climbers who had started out on time and were making their way up.

After a lot of dragging ass we managed to start the climb at 6am and were shortly slogging up the first snowfield. The snowfield was steep and we all shortly settled into a step step breath rythem. It was beautiful being out there. All we could hear was the wind whipping by and gradually all of the surrounding peaks lit up with the sunrise.

The first section was a 2000 foot climb up to a false summit. By the time we hit the top the sun had risen and you could see Mt Hood clearly over your shoulder. Everyone way psyched hitting the top of the false summit.

As we were hanging out behind some rocks taking a break we met crackers. Crackers was the most bad ass little dog I have ever met. This tiny dog ended up making it all the way to the summit.

After a nice break we all packed away the crampon and ice axes for the push to the summit. This late in the year the summit got enough sun to where we did not need anything more than hiking poles to make it up. We crossed some scree fields and at the base of the final push we crossed the Adams glacier.

We had a 1000ft push at the end but since it was free of snow I think we all found it was not as bad as the fist bit earlier in the morning. Before we knew it we were out of breath but at the summit. Woohoo!! Hang out and smell the sulfer of the volcano!

This summit was just over 12,200ft and had amazing views. No matter which direction you looked you saw a volcano. To the south was Mt Hood, to the east was Mt Saint Helens, and to the northish was Mt Rainier. It was really cool looking back on Mt Saint Helens and thinking that last year we had been looking over at Adams thinking how cool it would be if we could climb it one day.

After about an hour we headed back down to camp. We hiked back to the false summit and that is where the real fun began. The first snowfield that we had climbed gained 2000 feet and had taken us about 2 hours. On the way down we could slide through the glissade chutes and made the descent in about 15 minutes. These chutes were over your head at the top and you were cruising once you dropped in. To slow down you could lean back on your pack or dig in your ice axe. There were tons of smiles on the way down.

Natalie dropping in

Having a blast!!

We all defrosted a little and headed back into camp.

After breaking down camp we loaded up heavy packs and dropped from 9200 feet back down to the car at 5200 feet. About 2 miles from the car all conversations turned to food. Luckily we had beer, chips and salsa, cookies, and other great stuff waiting for us at the car. We relaxed at the car for a bit and then followed Joe to a great brew pub back in Hood River. I don't think I have ever eaten anything better in my life. The drive back to the house was a killer but we rolled in about midnight, took quick showers and passed out.

I have to say a special thanks to Matt for showing us the ropes and making sure nobody stabbed themselves in the face with an ice axe. It was a great weekend and I can't wait to get out and do it again. You just can't beat a great group of friends getting out in the woods.

Next weekend is a relaxing one hanging out at a cabin by Mt Rainier and I can't wait!!


Laura said...

Awesome pics!!

Courtney Putnam said...

Sliding in the snow looks like a blast!

Brian Tunstill said...

damn man, looks like youre really missing ol NC. Awesome pics man! You are making me want to sell my house and get the hell out of here.