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Ascent of Mount Adams on 2007-08-23

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Thursday, August 23, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Adams
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:12276 ft / 3741 m

Ascent Trip Report

August 22-23, 2007

Eric, Matthew, and Bilal

We took a half rest day after climbing Rainier and then moved on to our next target – mount Adams. This was kind of a morale-booster mountain that we knew we could all three summit no problem and wasn’t technical beyond basic self arrest skills. It was still a cool mountain though, at 12,000+ feet with tons of permanent snowfields.

We started hiking at about 7pm on Wednesday with plans to spend the night and be the first ones up the next day. The views on the approach were pretty amazing to the south as Mount Hood was surrounded by purple clouds in the twilight, and the sun set behind Mount St. Helens

It got pretty hard to find our way once it got dark because above treeline we weren’t really following a trail, just occasional cairns in the talus/scree field. At one point we lost the way completely in a talus-filled valley. There were no footprints or cairns, and I didn’t like climbing up steep loose rock at night, so I led us to a secure looking ridge that just happened to be the right way.

At about 10pm we came to what looked like a little village of rock circles at 8500 ft. We were all tired so Matthew and I staked claim to the biggest site, with Bilal next to us.

Apparently the village wasn’t completely empty, because somehow an extremely bold mouse was living right in the rock circle around our tent. It was brave enough to start chewing on our food bag that was sitting at our feet while we were cooking. I don’t think even the Camelot mice are that bold. Even rocks 100 times its weight didn’t scare this guy away, so we just gave up and went to bed.

Next morning was not so alpine – up at 5am instead of 1 or 2. We had thought about sunrise on the summit but felt like sleeping in instead.

The climb from there was basically a series of really long moderate-angle snow gullies. We deemed them just steep
enough for a good glissade and couldn’t wait for our 4000ft of vertical descent on the way back.

There were actually two other people way above us, and I’m sure we could have beat them to the top if there were some sort of prize up there, but we decided to just follow their tracks and take our time up.

We climbed until about 11, when we reached the summit. Our two adversaries were nice enough to descend then, leaving it just for us. Amazingly there was some ramshackled wooden building up there that was completely full of snow. I have no idea what it was doing there, but I made sure to climb on top to make sure I was on the true summit.

We had a clear view of Rainier to the north and took some summit photos in front of it. To the south we could see Hood and Jefferson, and beyond them the Three Sisters in central Oregon. We could even see a distant mountain beyond the Three Sisters, which we later figured out was Mt Bachelor, 160 miles away! We couldn’t believe it. The visibility was absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately the snow was still pretty firm, so we spent about another hour at the summit to optimize our descent conditions.

At about 12:30 Bilal made the call that the snow was acceptably soft, so we began our glissadage. Matthew and I were of the stand-up-boot-ski school while Bilal was a fan of the butt-slide method. Both were about the same speed, which was a lot faster than walking. We even passed the two climbers that beat us to the summit, avenging our second place finish that morning.

We got back to camp by early afternoon and rested for a while as we packed up. I borrowed Matthew’s binoculars to scout out our next mountain to the south – Mount Hood. We were already planning an ascent of hood starting that night, and it certainly be harder than Adams. You can read about that trip in the Mount Hood report.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
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