Mt. Adams Ski Trip 6/28/2003

Adams is a fantastic volcanic summit in Southwest Washington which starts with a very long car ride - especially leaving Seattle Friday at rush hour. But the weather Sunday was supposed to crap out so we were stuck with a Friday drive down and Saturday summit. We tried the "scenic route" down back roads between St. Helens and Adams, arriving at the Ranger station, along with 3 other groups, at 10:30 pm. It was definitely a scenic route, but not a time saver. The climber's registration box was already stuffed with other climber applications so we figured that the usual base camp was not our best bet for a quiet night's sleep and found a short logging road before the real access road to sleep on. We were up early but didn't leave trailhead until almost 7:45 am - not exactly an alpine start, but good enough.

We were planning to camp Saturday night - why rush back to the city after a long day? - and dropped our overnight gear near the end of tree line, but still with tents on dry ground. We left the bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale chilling out in a snowbank, along with a bottle of Rogue "Dead Guy Ale" just to cover all bases and headed for the top. I was carrying skis and testing out my new Scarpa T-3 boots, Gretchen and Mark elected to make this a boot-and-butt summit.

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The day was gorgeous and all those other people really were all over the mountain - most of them ahead of us (I've never been very good at the alpine start thing). The usual combination of fantastic contrast, phenomenal shades of blue to blue-black (thanks to the polarizer) and amazing visibility made for some great photo ops.

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The summit looked a bit like an REI rummage ski sale at full tilt. Temps were quite warm, hence the sunbathing crowd in the background. The visability was truely astounding - we could see the Sisters down in Central Oregon, all the way up to Mt. Baker, 180+ miles to the north! The top of Adams is a 12,280 ft, second only to Rainier in the Cascades north of Shasta.

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I had been looking for three other skiers; friend-of-friend ski partners, whom I knew only by name. We connected on Piker's peak and continued to the summit where I left Gretchen and Mark to slide down while we tackled the southwest chutes. From the top, the southwest chutes are a little intimidating - one can't see the bottom until dropping the first 500 ft, and the angle is right around 35 degrees (I checked this by laying a protractor on the shot with St. Helens).

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The corn snow however,was excellent, there was plenty for the edges to sink into so the usual feelings of apprehension were quickly overcome by the joy of the turns. I confess that between my somewhat sore ankles and the steep angle, I did rather less Tele and more Stem-Cristie turning, but it was an absolutely stunning run of 3000+ ft of consistent, steep, glorious, continuous descent. Well, continuous except for for the frequent stops gasping for breath from the altitude.

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Jim and Greg Carving up the chutes with Silas watching.

Photo of myself taken by Greg - note that I switched to Tele for the photo shot. Also, Greg did a nice sketch of routes. The rest of his shots are on Greg's website

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At the bottom of the chutes, Greg Silas and Jim were heading back to the car, while I needed to get back to camp. I followed a couple other guys up a bit hoping for a short climbing traverse back to the usual trail and back down to camp. First 500 ft went by just fine, then I bonked, and struggled through another 500 ft of climb (ouch), in full late afternoon sun, dehydration, and these odd little bee insects buzzing all around. at least they didn't sting. But one doesn't dally for tooo long when there's 2 bottles of cold brew back in base camp so I was only a half hour behind Gretchen and Mark.

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Gorgeous evening on the mountain, and a refreshing, full night's sleep before a leisurely hike out in the morning. Another good summit.

click for larger image Parting shot.......


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