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John Guilford's Hikes

Mt. Adams, south spur route on 1999-08-27/8

Date: 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.)
Seattle		5:45
Portland	8:45
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
Retire		9pm
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
Seattle		11:00
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 lunch. 

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. 

[ PIX1 ] 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).  [ PIX5 ] 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.  [ PIX4 ] 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.

[ PIX7 ] 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 any sunburn. 

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. [ PIX9 ]

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 summit. 

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). 

[ PIX8 ] 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.  [ PIX6 ] 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.  [ PIX3 ] 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 area. 

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.

[ PIX2 ] 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 one-lane road). 

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
fleece pants
nylon over-pants
fleece shirt
down vest
Gore-Tex shell (not used)
glove liners (not used)
Gore-Tex mitts (not used)
wool mittens (not used)
knit hat
Gore-Tex hat (Seattle Sombrero)
thermorest pad
down sleeping bag
extra socks
tent/ground cloth
sit pad
ice axe
trekking poles
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)


[ PIX1 ] 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

[ PIX4 ] Campsite with Joe and Gene at the Lunch Counter showing rock wall windbreak.

[ PIX5 ] Gene, Joe, and Harry at campsite at the Lunch Counter.  Second day's route visible behind. 

[ PIX7 ] Sunset from camp at the Lunch Counter.  Mt. Saint Helens dimly visible left middle of photo. 

[ PIX9 ] John half way up first steep snow field above the Lunch Counter. 

[ PIX8 ] View of Adams' summit from Pikers Peak.  Trail to summit visible. 

[ PIX3 ] Benchmark on top of Mt. Adams

[ PIX6 ] John at summit (12,276') above benchmark (at base of ice axe). 

[ PIX2 ] 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