John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Adams, south spur route on 1999-08-27/8
Location: Mt. Adams, south spur route
People: (including myself): Gene Obie, Joe Tarantino, Harry and Mary Plate
My Alt. Real Alt. Miles
Lake Stevens 5:00am (estim.)
Hood River 9:40
Ranger Station 10:30
Lv Trout Lake 12:10
Trailhead 1:00 5280 5560
Start: 1:45 5320 5560
Trail #9 2:30 5920 6280 1.5
Treeline 3:10 6360
Morrison Crk 3:25 6460 6800 3
Lunch Counter 6:30 8720 ~9200 4.5
Get up 5am
Lv camp 6:30 8680
Crampons 7:00 9140 ~9700
Pikers Peak 9:20 10840 11657 6.5
Adams Summit 10:35 11580 12276 7
Lv summit 11:00 11580
Pikers Peak 11:30 10880 11657 7.5
Lunch Counter 12:45 8600 ~9200 9.5
Lv campsite 2:10 8640
Morrison Crk 3:25 6420 6800 11
Trail #9 3:50 5920 6280 12.5
Trailhead 4:20 5300 5560 14
Lv parking 4:50
Ranger Station 5:40
Hood River 6:20
Lv Hood River 7:15
Lake Stevens 12:00
We met at Lake Stevens at 5am and moved our gear to Gene's Suburban. We
picked Joe up in Seattle 45 minutes later. The route was down I-5 to
Portland, east on I-84 to Hood River, across the Hood River Bridge (toll -
$0.75 each way), west about 2 miles to Alt 141, north to Rt. 141 and Trout
Lake and the Cold Springs trailhead. We stopped once just this side
of Portland for some breakfast and to change drivers. Besides a stop along
the way to pick up film, our next stop was the ranger station at Trout
Lake. There, we bought out climbing permits ($15/ea) and back country
permit and signed in. Then we made a tactical mistake. Wishing to get
some lunch before the climb, we went to Trout Lake's only (afaik) cafe. We
got there at 10:45 and despite the menu's claim "breakfast served till 11",
we were informed that they just started the last breakfast order and that
we'd have to wait for them to set up for lunch - a "15 minute" wait.
Thinking the wait would only be 15 minutes, we spent some time repacking
packs, filling fuel bottles, and changing clothes. It was about 45 minutes
before we could even order and even longer before food showed up. Finally
everyone's (except for Harry) food came out and was quickly consumed.
Harry ended up getting his to go and eating in the Suburban. All in all we
wasted almost an hour and a half getting a couple burgers. In the future
one should plan on getting their lunch at Hood River or bringing a bag
The drive from Trout Lake to the trailhead starts off fine, but quickly
becomes a heavily rutted dirt road. A high clearance vehicle is almost a
necessity to get to the trailhead. Be prepared for a slow drive with lots
of bouncing around.
At the trailhead we finished our repacking and changing of clothing, put on
sunscreen, took some pictures and started up.
The weather was warm but not hot - about 60 degrees - and sunny. We all
started off with shorts and short sleeve shirts. Joe and I brought poles,
the rest only brought ice axes (secured to their packs). Initially the
trail follows the route of an old road and is relatively flat and smooth,
though it gradually gains altitude. Part way down the trail we had to stop
for Mary to put on some moleskin. Somewhat further we had to stop for me
to put on some moleskin. I had plastic rental boots and the balls of my
feet were sliding around a bit.
At a mile and a half, the trail crosses the "Round the Mountain Trail"
(which is labeled "Trail #9"). Here the old roadway ends and the trail
becomes more trail-like.
At 3 miles the trail crosses Morrison creek. Here we stopped to fill up
water bottles. Joe hadn't filled his prior to starting and needed water.
I was almost down a quart by then and refilled my bottle too.
We started getting into snow after this and the trail steepened. Soon we
were predominantly on snow. We followed a trail that ascended up the
middle of the Crescent Glacier, passing through a basin with a relatively
steep head wall, which we ascended in a long traverse (this head wall was
trickier descending past on the way down). We then ascended a broad flat
snow field up the Suksdorf ridge to the Lunch Counter. During this ascent,
I fell behind, not climbing as fast as the others. At the lunch counter, a
large rocky plateau rose out of the surrounding snow. Numerous little
campsites had been made here, with short rock walls surrounding flat
tenting spots. A short ways away melt water runoff from the snowfield
provided convenient water.
It was still relatively warm with almost no breeze as we set up camp, got
water (I went through nearly 3 quarts on the climb up to the Lunch
Counter), and made dinner. It was a fine evening though it was getting a
bit hazy. We hadn't been able to see Mt. Hood on the way up, though we did
get a view of Mt. St. Helens as the sun was setting to the right of it.
We retired about 9pm, though Joe and Gene stayed up for a while playing
with the watches under headlamps, trying to figure out how to change the
altimeter from measuring in meters to measuring in feet. The tent site was
slightly sloped across the tent, with the result that Joe (who was on the
bottom) got squeezed between Gene (the middle) and the tent wall. I (on
top), spent the night fighting rolling down hill. After retiring, we got a
call from Harry and Mary's tent saying that they saw mice outside. This
caused Gene and Joe to get out and gather our food and bring it into the
tent. With three in the tent, there wasn't room for gear, so our packs and
shoes stayed outside, inside of plastic bags (in case of rain).
The night was pretty warm and still. I had to go outside the tent around
midnight to take care of some business (despite taking care of business
just before retiring) and found it comfortable despite being barefoot and
only wearing shorts. It helped that I was warm in my sleeping bag and had
a bit of a reserve of heat. During the night we got scattered showers
(good thing the gear was under plastic). A shower would go by and a bit
later the moon would poke through the clouds. The showers cleared up
before we got up.
The alarm went off at 4:30, but Gene and Joe slept through it. We finally
got up about 5 and made breakfast. As Gene had suspected/feared, our water
source had dried up overnight (with the cooler temperature, the snow didn't
melt as fast and the little stream wasn't there). Thus we had to melt snow
for breakfast and for the ascent. Due to the moon and the soon to be
rising sun, it was almost light enough to forego headlamps. By the time we
started up at 6:30 there was definitely no need for headlamps.
For the summit climb, I wore shorts over long polypro pants and a long
sleeved polypro shirt. I also wore my Gore-Tex hat for some protection from
the sun. Between the sunscreen and the hat I was successful in avoiding
A half hour after starting, near the 9700' level, the trail steepens and we
had to put on our crampons. It was Mary's first time using crampons and
the first time I've used them on ice. Not surprisingly, they really helped
climbing up the slope which was pretty ice in parts.
Again, the other four climbed faster than I did. I caught up with them
once during one of their breaks, but then didn't see them again till the
The way led up a steep (45 degree) and at times icy slope. It was possible
to ascend on rocks and dirt on the side, though the ice was easier travel.
At the top of this ice field we had to take the crampons off to negotiate a
stretch of rock/dirt that I found to be more tiring than the snow/ice.
After a hundred yards of this, we put the crampons back on for another
stretch of snow/ice (which, again, could be bypassed on loose rocks and
dirt). This snow/ice field led to the lower false summit called Pikers
Peak (11657). At the bottom of the second snow field we paused to put on
some sun screen as the sun was high enough to have effect.
Going up these slopes, I was passed by parties heading down. They started
up about 3 in the morning and had already summited.
On the way up I ate a little gorp and some Chex cereal. However, the
altitude really lowered my appetite. My stomach was queasy enough that I
even took it pretty easy on water on the way up, taking more frequent
smaller sips. After gaining Pikers Peak, I tried eating a granola bar. My
mouth was dry enough that I could barely eat one of the bars, tucking the
other bar in my pocket (which I later threw out).
After Pikers Peak, one traverses a relatively flat snow field till one gets
to the final ascent to the summit. This final ascent was along a
relatively well defined trail in the dirt and rock. It is only a bit more
than 600' higher, but with the thin air and after climbing 2500' already,
it was slow going and still took me an hour to gain the summit.
At the summit I found the remains of the old Lookout sticking up out of the
snow. Its interior was full of snow, but the snow had melted away from its
top side and its roof provided a convenient, dry place to rest a pack. The
rest of the team had made it up there about an hour before me. I called my
wife Pam on my cell phone to let her know I made it. Adams' summit is
relatively flat and rounded. It wasn't obvious what the highest point was,
but I went eastward of the old Lookout and found a USGS benchmark and
since that looked like about the highest place, I called that the
summit. The wind picked up a bit between Pikers Peak and on the summit,
and while on the summit I had to wear my fleece jacket. While there I also
managed to eat a bagel.
On the summit, the rest of the party met this guy who had been up there for
several weeks. He spends about 4 weeks on the top of various volcanos and
is working on a book about it.
When Joe and I returned to the Lookout, we found that Gene, Mary, and Harry
had already started back down. Thus we missed out on a team picture of all
of us at the summit.
Joe and I packed up our gear and headed down, too. Going down was much
easier and faster than going up, though Joe still out-paced me, soon
disappearing in front of me. The loose rock and dirt that was a pain
coming up was actually rather easy to descend. The sliding of the
rock/dirt with each step was working in our favor and sort of cushioned
each step down.
I left my crampons off crossing the snow field to Pikers Peak. I bypassed
the upper snow field by staying on the side and climbing down the rocks and
dirt. After crossing the band of rock and dirt between the snow fields I
put the crampons back on but found descending the snow field with crampons
to be more work then descending the rock, went back to the side, took the
crampons off, and continued descending the rock.
After descending the steeper portions of the slope I decided to glissade
down the remainder. Previous climbers and fashioned/worn a somewhat curvy
glissade track down the slope. For protection I put on a pair of nylon
over pants. I was somewhat apprehensive about glissading down the icy
slope w/out crampons on, but I was more concerned about catching a point in
the icy to wear them. The glissading went well. At times I had to push
myself along to keep moving. At other times, I needed to dig the pick of
my ice axe into the walls of the trough to keep my speed down. Sometimes
it was pretty much sliding down an icy chute, other times I was following
down a small mound of loose sliding snow. And at other times the trough
ran through slushy puddles. At some point I skinned my elbow on an icy
section somehow. It was a relatively fast and easy way down, though my
shorts got soaked even through the nylon over pants.
When the slope petered out I had to again start hiking, crossing the snow
slope to the Lunch Counter, arriving about quarter to one. The others only
beat me down by a half hour. While descending there were still copious
people on the way up still (either people who started later or lower).
We took a break to eat some more, change clothing (I changed into dry
underwear and socks and back into plain shorts and a short sleeve shirt).
We then broke camp just about the time that the crowds started arriving.
Doing the climb Friday/Saturday instead of Saturday/Sunday was a good thing
as there were considerably more people Saturday night than there was on
Friday. I wondered where they'd put all the tents.
On the way down the snow field from the Lunch Counter, I kept pace with
Harry, though Gene and Joe went on ahead. Compared to the steep snow/ice
going up to the summit, this snow was easy and fast to descend. We did run
into some trouble when we reached the steep headwall that we encountered on
the way up. Gene ended up doing a sitting glissade down it. I was wearing
only shorts and didn't want to do that and didn't think I could keep my
balance on a standing glissade (though I did see someone else doing a cool
standing glissade down the wall). Harry, Mary, and I ended up turning
around and kick stepping our way down the slope for about 15 feet until it
wasn't so steep.
After that it was a pretty routine hike down the Crescent glacier and out
the trail (which seemed longer than I remembered it :-) to the parking
The rental boots I had (size 10-1/2) did okay, though my foot was loose
inside the boot and I had to put moleskin on the pads of my feet to prevent
blisters. I also found that the rim of the boot wore sore patches on the
front and back of my ankles where they rubbed. I definitely wouldn't want
to go on a long hike in the rental boots.
Back at the parking area we changed clothes (again), packed up the
Suburban, and got our final group photo. Negotiating a way through the
parking area was somewhat tricky. There were considerably more vehicles
than when we arrived and they were stuck almost anyplace there was
marginally enough room to fit them. After leaving the parking area, the
ride down the road was equally as bumpy as the ride up, though we had the
added inconvenience of pulling over to pass vehicles coming up (it is a
We stopped for an hour at Hood River and had some pizza and then drove home.
What I brought:
short sleeve polypro shirt
long sleeve polypro shirt
long polypro pants
Gore-Tex shell (not used)
glove liners (not used)
Gore-Tex mitts (not used)
wool mittens (not used)
Gore-Tex hat (Seattle Sombrero)
down sleeping bag
snow wands (not used)
2 one quart water bottles
3 bagels (I ate 1)
2 granola bars (I ate 1/2)
M&Ms/raisins (I ate a little)
corn chex (I ate a little)
Mt. Adams from just below tree line. The large snowfield in the center
of the photo is the Crescent Glacier. The Lunch Counter is at the left end
of the flat ridge above and to the right of the Crescent Glacier. The
people are Harry, Gene, Joe.
Campsite with Joe and Gene at the Lunch Counter showing rock wall
Gene, Joe, and Harry at campsite at the Lunch Counter. Second day's
route visible behind.
Sunset from camp at the Lunch Counter. Mt. Saint Helens dimly visible
left middle of photo.
John half way up first steep snow field above the Lunch Counter.
View of Adams' summit from Pikers Peak. Trail to summit visible.
Benchmark on top of Mt. Adams.
John at summit (12,276') above benchmark (at base of ice axe).
The team after the hike: Joe, John, Mary, Gene, Harry.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015