Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mt Adams Lawton, WA

A volcano vacation. The next stop after Rainier was Mt. Adams, named after veteran guide of Skier Boyz Adam Lawton. He claimed the summit as a first ascent and the run a first descent for the organization. Of course he was lying because it was first climbed in 1854 and first skied in 1932. Washington's second highest volcano (12,276 ft.) is found above the Hood River Gorge Region, towering 6,000 vertical feet above the small town of Trout Lake and the ranger station. We had a good view of it from Rainier and had a see what Rainier looked like from over there.

Our guide, Adam chose to climb the Suksdorf Ridge and to ski the Southwest chute, so knowing we wouldn't be crossing any big glaciers we went a lot lighter on gear than we carried on Rainier. And our backs hurt. We made it to the trail head about 3 p.m. and decided to bivy on the mountain and get up early to summit before it got too warm. Trout Lake was 83 degrees when we left to drive to the trail head. Luckily we met some generous Sledder Rednecks who wanted to carry our bags in half of the way. Three Sledder Rednecks on sleds and six thirty pound packs. What a favor. Vrooom, Vroooom!

It felt so good to hike without our packs on, up towards Cold Springs Campground and the South Climb Trail. When we reached Cold Springs our packs were there with the now drunk Sledder Rednecks. We said thanks again and continued up the trail below the Suksdorf Ridge, now with our packs on and large grins across our faces because the scenery was getting wild and beautiful. When climbing Adams you get up above the treeline very fast and can look out and have excellent views of St. Helens, Mt Hood and Jefferson. The late evening alpenglow was illuminating the snow covered peaks and I couldn't be happier to be on a volcano like this one. Our ascent and descent came into view high on the mountain and I was excited for the next day to come. We set up our bivy around 6,000 ft. on a sandy ledge with plenty of flat plots to lie down for a quick nap before our early morning mission to the summitt.

The 1:30 a.m. wake up call came in a blink of an eye and everyone was getting packed up to leave. We stashed our bivy gear at our camp and made our way up in the darkness of early morning. By 4 a.m. or so we knew we were going to summit too early. We went lighter than Rainier, moved faster and it wasn't as challenging. We sat down for awhile and dozed off at "Lunch Counter", below the Suksdorf Ridge at 9,000 ft. and continued climbing about an hour later. Crampons were a big help up the ridge, a 2,700 ft 30-35 degree open slope that has great skiing. Pikers Peak is the false summit above the Suksdorf, only 700 ft below the true summit. We summited at 8:30 a.m., way too early for good skiing conditions. Luckily it was a dead calm 40 degrees out and we were able to rest comfortably on the summit for two and a half hours before we made our descent. When the conditions became more manageable we began our descent from the summit to above the Southwest chute. Being a little west facing the Southwest chute still had not warmed enough for ideal skiing so we relaxed for about another hour, then experienced a epic run. It started a little firm, but quickly softened to a inch or two of corn snow and it got goood! 4,000 vertical feet of a constant 35 degree pitch and so much room. To me it seemed steeper than that when I stopped to catch my breath and regain composure to finish the run in good style. It was an amazing run. A run of a lifetime. I could not believe how good a run it was and long. So long I stopped twice and still my legs were on fire by the bottom. It took about 5-10 minutes for each person to finish the run. Everyone was gitty at the bottom and we were all thinking the same thing. What a amazing line, better skiing than Rainier. It took a lot of traversing to get back to our beach bivy and out to the cars by 2:30 p.m. Our treat was a dip in the Columbia River by all the kite boarders, pizza, then four of us hit the road back to SLC while Bret, Adam and Topher continues the Ring of Fire tour with Hood and Shasta. I wish I could have stayed. JF Buf