Mount Adams

September 19th, 2008

Starting the Adams climb

Mount Adams off in the smokeAs long as I was in the Cascades, I DID want to climb a volcano. Rainier, Hood, Shasta… all of them are difficult and I was sketched to try them alone. But while I was in Issaquah with Chris he told me about Mount Adams. It’s an impressive volcano in the classic prominent style of the others - about 12300′ and 7000′ from the parking lot - but an easy walk up! By easy I mean no crevasses, ice pitches, technical climbing, etc. Just scree and snow. Stoked, I decided to do it almost Adams had SO many tent fortificationsimmediately. Since there is snow, I could also get my September ski day in! Two birds with one stone. Coming out of Rainier Park google maps told me to go clear west to I-5 and around south to Hood River to get to Adams. Looking at the map I knew there had to be a better way. Or at least, shorter. After buying a Forest Service map and consulting a few gas stations Hiking on volcanoes is like hiking on Mars(all with contradictory and false information) I dove into the heart of the Cascades. It was pretty intense, because I did it after dark… and I’m not sure how reliable my van is. It took about three hours of winding through an endless tunnel of thick, tall tree to reach my destination… only 60 miles away. And I never past another car. At one point there was even a road closure sign (the gas stations had warned me…), but I drove past it and eventually came to it’s counterpart sign for the other direction with no mishaps, so… who knows. I made it to the trailhead by 11pm.

Headed up Mount AdamsThe next morning I got a leisurely start on the trail at 8AM, skis strapped to my back, and headed up the mountain. The trail is only 7 or 8 miles up, but the 7000′ elevation gain adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to that mileage. My main impressions of the hike were smoke and volcanic rock. It was so smoky I couldn’t see the bottom of the mountain somtimes, and the volcano was so desolate that I stopped seeing trees after the first mile. I know what it is like to hike on Mars now. (Kind of shitty, actually.) The smoke cleared a little... for a momentAll the different kinds of volcanic rock were interesting… but not that interesting. No wildlife, no plants, just rock. And snow towards the top. I actually was a little concerned at how far I went up before I found the snow. An old guy who passed me going down joked that I should have brought a snowmaker. He said that it was a record snow year, but now in September there was less snow than ever and grumbled about global warming. Hard to argue. I did get up The hut on top was full of icethe snow eventually, and spotted about a 1000′ run I could make, but most years you can ski a lot more apparently, and link up the separate snow fields I saw. I did see a couple other parties on the hike… but they were old and/or overweight and said it was too late in the day to summit (though we were already halfway already at 10:30am!) so mostly I had the mountain to myself. One group turned around because they thought the smoke was storm clouds, I think, and they tried to dissuade me from summiting too. I dropped my skis by the snow and pressed on.

The hut on Adams with Hood above the smokeIt took me 4:40 hours from the car to the summit. At the very top I did meet two other young guys and we hung out at the summit a bit. The one guy had done 27 of the 50 state highpoints, so we talked about that. The volcano had at one time been explored for commercial sulfur mining, so there was a building on the top (!). Really, it was a flat boring summit with the view obscured by smoke. The one cool thing was that Mount Rainier and Hood were visible above the smoke. It was amazing to be on one of these giant dirt piles and only be able to see the other giants, far in the distance.

Freezing balls on top with Rainier above the smoke

My davenport shotI picked up my skis on the way down and headed for the snow. To my dismay I realized that the snow had melted out into ultra-mega suncups, 2-3 feet high. I’m still not used to me new ski setup, and my legs were tired, and I now had to ski a very challenging 1000′ mogul run. And I do mean serious moguls. Man-eaters. It took me sooo long to ski it! I finally got to the bottom though, legs on fire. What a ridiculous thing, skiing in the summer. *sigh*

Me at the top of the runSuncup supersize special on AdamsGreat success!

All in all Mount Adams was a killer day. I got to bag a volcano, and do my Sept ski day. I rolled out to Hood River for a couple Full Sail brews and turned in for the night in the Safeway parking lot. :)

Proof positive: USGS marker on AdamsThe hut on top was full of iceA glacier on Adams

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