Thursday, August 24, 2017

Conquering Mount Adams

Heading up South Climb to Mt Adams
Hiking Mt Adams came on my radar back in February of this year. I had heard prior that this mountain was non-technical, and hikeable with minimum gear and very beginner mountaineering skills. I always say, as long as it's non-technical, I am game to hike it. (Non-technical, meaning I do not have to rope in and wear a helmet when hiking. Mt Rainier is a technical mountain, which I don't really have any interest in climbing as of right now) Anyways, a group was formed and a date was set back in February to climb Adams for July. But as time past and summer caught up to all of us, that original group fell apart and the event was canceled. I wasn't actually that bummed at first because I have had such a busy summer and having a weekend's plan canceled cut me a break. But then I climbed Mt St Helens in June, and that inkling to climb Adams came back. Then some people I knew climbed Adams and posted pictures, which made me want to climb Adams even more. Then my friend Hillary and I started texting about Adams and we decided to set a date to climb it, August 19th weekend. Well that weekend came, and Hillary and I recruited some more friends to climb it with us and it was a successful weekend with an all female crew!

Hiked: Mt Adams, South Climb
Distance from Seattle: 265 miles one way
Miles hiked: 12 miles
Elevation Gained: 6700 ft
Tallest Point (Summit of Mt Adams): 12280 ft
Difficulty: pretty darn difficult
Permit needed: Cascade Volcano Pass is needed when climbing over 7000 ft between 5/1-9/30, $15 per person on the weekend, or $10 per person on a weekday. This permit includes parking, you can rip off a tab on it and stick it on your dash.

Friday August 18, 2017
Sarina, Tizzy, and I agreed on carpooling down to the trailhead. Hillary and Adria planned to drive out Saturday morning. So after working a full day, we met up in downtown Seattle, loaded Tizzy's car, and hit the road for Mt Adams by 5:00 PM. Of course we hit a ton of traffic getting out of the city, and we were also warned there might be extra traffic due to Monday's eclipse with everyone trying to go to Oregon for full totality. It was slow going at first, then we stopped in Tacoma for some food, and by the time we hit the road again, traffic wasn't that bad!

Per Google Maps, there are a couple of different ways to get to Mt Adams, the way we took, we had to drive over the state border to Portland, then cut back up, cross the Hood River Bridge (where there's a $1 toll fee each way), and back into Washington. Our first stop after crossing back into Washington was the Mt Adams Ranger Station in Trout Lake, WA. Since we pulled in around 11 PM, the office was closed, and we had to self register. The ranger station leaves informational pamphlets, registers, pay boxes, and poop bags outside so you can do it all during off hours. We filled out the permit forms, stuck it in the register box, each stuck $15 in an envelope and put it in the drop box, grabbed a couple of poop bags, and were on the road again. They say it's about a 45 minute drive from ranger station to the South Climb trailhead. We stopped early though and decided to camp at Morrison Creek Campground for the night, which is on the way to the trailhead. Don't do what we did. We accidentally passed the campground and started going up the narrow road to trailhead and ended up doing a 20 point turn to turn ourselves around lol. So when you see a sign that says something along the lines of "Steep grade", you've missed Morrison Creek Campground. We eventually found a campsite and pitched 2 tents well after midnight. The girls were excited to get some night shots in before bed. But our plans got ruined because we all got spooked by 2 glowing eyes staring at us. After 20 minutes of sitting in the car trying to figure out what the animal was, and then deciding we were all going to sleep in one tent that night, we finally decided it was a deer across the way and not a cougar lol. Anyways, we all got into Sarina's 3 person tent and went to bed around 1:00 AM.

Morrison Creek Campground

Saturday August 18, 2017
We woke up around 8:00 AM, packed up, ate some food, and drove to trailhead. The drive up to Adams is burnt and charred from previous forest fires, the most recent being 2015. You can actually camp at Mt Adams trailhead, which the camp is called Cold Springs. But since we didn't want to drive the road in the dark, we opted for Morrison Creek the night before. We thought the parking lot would be pretty straight forward, but it wasn't. Cars were scattered everywhere it seemed, with camp spots scattered throughout as well. We eventually found a parking spot pretty close to the entrance of the trail, and were able to send out a text to Hillary and let her know where our car was located. We stashed a walkie talkie on top of the back wheel for her so she could communicate with us on trail. (Safety first!)

We hit trail by 10:45 AM. 3 hours into the hike, we hit the giant snowfield leading up to Lunch Counter, which is the area you can camp at before you start climbing to the summit. Per Sarina's new GPS watch, by the time we found a spot to set up camp, we had hiked 5 miles. It had taken us 5 hours.

We had gotten a hold of Hillary and Adria earlier, and found out they had hit trail 1.5 hrs after us. So Sarina, Tizzy, and I took our time, lounged around, and set up camp. The girls finally found us a couple hours later. We all hung out, practiced glissading and self arresting, found a water source and filtered some water (water source is not reliable up here though, so bank on melting snow for water), ate dinner, and called it a night by 9:00 PM.

 Dusty and sandy trails start off the hike
 Approaching Lunch Counter
 Home for the night
The peak was taunting us
Setting up camp with the peak behind
Tizzy matching the rock patches
Sunset at 9300 ft
Sunday August 19, 2017
All of our alarms went off at 4:30 AM. Seemed like majority of us hadn't slept well that night. For me, whenever the wind picked up, and the tent started flapping, I woke up. I never got cold that night though. (I'll include a list below of my sleep system I brought) We all forced some breakfast into us, lightened our overnight packs with the necessities we needed for the day, left the rest in our tents, and hit trail around 6:00 AM. Truly we had to get gear on within 15 min of hiking (strapping on crampons), so we started closer to 6:30 AM.

I reached Piker's Peak, which is the false summit by 9:45 AM. At this point, we all took off our crampons, put away our ice axes, and layered up before the final push to the true summit. Part way was snow, and part way was loose rocks/scree that was difficult to walk on. No crampons or ice axe needed for the last push. I got to the true summit 15 minutes after the rest of the girls, and summited at 10:45 AM. It was a great day for all of us! We all summited! We hung out at the summit until 11:30 AM, chatting with others, snacking, and taking pictures before we decided to head back down. There's actually an old wooden structure that still sits at the top, but it's not safe to stand on or go in since it's unmaintained.

The hike down the loose rocks/scree wasn't as awful as I thought it was going to be. It was more like slide walking? Lol. Sarina pointed out an area on the true summit, that she had seen people go down a glissade chute. I personally didn't see a glissade chute though, and saw rocks. We all chose to hike it back down to Piker's Peak before we jumped into a chute. We put on our waterproof gear at the top of Piker's, hiked down a bit on the rocks before we jumped into the glissade path. On our way up, we had noted to take the path on the far right, since the other tracks lead into rocks midway. The 5 of us glissaded down, and we got back to camp within 2 hours of summiting! Fastest way down a mountain on snow? Slide down on your butt!

We packed up camp, and hiked out. Tizzy and I tried to glissade at one point, but the snow was too sticky and the hill wasn't steep enough to slide down, so we all ended up walking the large snowfield down. We got back to trailhead by 5:40 PM Sunday. We had just spent 11 hours on trail. It was a long day, and now we still had the 5+ hr drive back to Seattle. We grabbed burgers at Dairy Queen in Hood River, and made it back to Seattle a little after midnight.

Overall, it was a great weekend for all of us on Mt Adams. I did not experience any stomach aches on this trip (I made sure to stay away from dairy), the altitude did not get to me, and I didn't end up using any of the poop bags I brought with me cuz I just can't go on trail, especially if I am only out there for 2 days. (You have to carry out your solid waste so it doesn't contaminate the area)

Sunrise at 6:00 AM
The tip of the mountain in this picture is Piker's Peak, false summit
 3 of the 5
 The rest of the gang
Rented Crampons
Up up we go!
On top of Piker's Peak looking at the true summit
Made it!
The wooden structure at the summit

Some Things I brought/wore:

  • Sleep System - REI Brand Sleeping Bag (rated at 30 degrees), sleeping bag liner (I have this one), a light weight down blanket I bought from Costco, Z Lite Sleeping Pad, and a pillow case with my clothes stuffed into it for my pillow. I did sleep a lil too warm on Adams since the lows only hit 40 degrees.
  • Sunglasses (I do not have glacier glasses/goggles, I just used a polarized pair)
  • Oboz Hiking Boots (my feet were a little damp from trekking in the snow, but did well besides that)
  • Clothing wise: I wore Nike Leggings, a cotton tank, Mammuth Hybrid Jacket/part down, and a Columbia rain jacket (I did get a little damp after glissading). I also dawned Columbia rain pants when glissading
  • 3-Season Tent (We used Tizzy's)
  • Gaiters 
With all this being said and done, take into consideration that we had really good weather last weekend!

Until next time Mt Adams!

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