Devo's Climbs

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Alpine Climb: Mount Adams

On Saturday I climbed Mt. Adams with my brother-in-law, Benjamin Robbins. Even though it is the second highest peak in Washington at 12,276 feet, I had yet to do Adams, but since I would be guiding campers with Tall Timbers' Rock & Ice Caravan up the mountain in July, I thought it would be best to get familiar with the route. Ben, hot off his first marathon, was all jazzed up to test his fitness against a big mountain. Ben can be quite energetic (conservatively speaking) and I was interested to see how well he stood up to the the challenges of high altitude mountaineering. Would be good to see him wheeze a bit. ;-) Our route was the South Spur: a non-technical route of mainly snow and rock, no rope required - a perfect intro for Ben.

We drove to the trailhead at Cold Springs campground Friday night, arriving (after a short "detour") at 1am. Along the way I realized I had forgotten my sleeping bag, so I ended up sleeping in my biv sack with just my clothes. I didn't sleep very well and got up at 6am. Then we discovered that Cold Springs lacked one thing I take for granted at campgrounds - water! We had two 1 liter bottles of Gatorade, but that was it. We were concerned. Thankfully the folks camping next door let us fill our Nalgenes and we were set.

We packed up and set out at 7:15am. Weather was perfect: clear, deep blue sky dotted with little fluffy clouds. We reached the Lunch Counter at 9,400 ft. around 10am and I felt good about our progress. The 2,200 foot slope to the top of the false summit came next. I settled into a good pace, Ben charged ahead. About half way up I noticed he was slowing down. He mentioned this was pretty hard and he was getting tired. I felt like Yoda with young Luke Skywalker ("Oooh, tired you are? Climb fast and winded you must be!"). I took the opportunity to introduce Ben to the rest-step technique. Once he mastered it, his progress was measured and steady. We still continued to gain on everyone ahead of us - no worries.

At the top of the false summit (11,600 ft.) we were greeted with a chilling blast of wind and we quickly threw on extra layers, afixed crampons, and snacked. Soon we set off for the summit. Many more rest-steps later, we were on top - by noon even! The thin air was readily apparent, but the view was perfect. Rainier was huge and St. Helens was belching large puffs of ash into the sky. We took pictures and I took a stroll around the large summit plateau. Rarely does one get the chance for leisure on high summits. All told, we spent 45 - 60 minutes on top.

Descending, we worked our way back down to the false summit and then did a sitting glissade down to the Lunch Counter. Nothing funner than sliding 2,200 ft. in four minutes. Wahooo! Snow was pretty sloppy on the lower mountain; we were glad to reach the trail. We made camp at Cold Springs by 4pm. After crackers, cheese, and sausage downed with a couple beers, we drove home. I was in bed by midnight and slept until 1:00 Sunday afternoon.

"Whoooooa! STOP THE CAR!"

Pictures of our climb are posted on: Devin's Mt. Adams album.


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