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idahonative
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Joined: 22 May 2007
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Location: Seattle, WA
idahonative
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PostThu Jul 12, 2007 11:02 am 
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I know many of you have done this snow scramble before, but I hadn't seen a recent trip report, so I thought I'd share our story.  This was my first time up Adams, and my first time above 10,000 feet.  This will surely not be the last high-alpine trip!

Hubby, Friend, and I left Seattle at about 5:00 p.m. and headed south.  After a not-so-brief stopover in Centralia for dinner (as far as we can tell, it's got the closest Burgerville to Seattle -- Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings are YUMMY) and last-minute food items, we finally made it to the trailhead/impromptu campground around midnight and were in bed by 12:30.  Ugh...the prospect of getting up in just a few wee hours wasn't so great, but we were all excited for the scramble the next day.  Given the rather warm temperature (maybe mid-50s), and the gorgeous starry sky, we chose not to pitch the tent, and instead just camped out under the stars.  WOW--what a gorgeous night for that.

We got up around 4:00 a.m., jammed our sleeping bags in the car, and started on the tail around 4:30.  We barely even had to use headlamps as we were getting enough moonlight at that hour, plus early twilight had already begun.  It was still really warm, even at that hour, so we knew the day was going to be a scorcher.  It was certainly one of the most interesting experiences to walk through hot and cool patches of air!  I should also note that there was not a cloud in the sky, so we hoped for continued good weather on the ascent.

Mt. Adams in the early a.m.
Mt. Adams in the early a.m.
Early morning light on Mt. Hood
Early morning light on Mt. Hood

There was pretty much no snow until the Crescent Glacier (scree and dust, blech). We skipped most of the glacier by climbing east up the end of the glacier to the ridgeline that continues straight toward the lunch counter.  At the top of the ridge we hit the snowfield below the lunch counter and put on gaiters and crampons (crampons weren't really needed, but it was nice to have that extra sure step on snow).

Dirty trail to avoid the Crescent Glacier
Dirty trail to avoid the Crescent Glacier
Crescent Glacier
Crescent Glacier

We took a break at the lunch counter (too long of a break in my opinion), and had some time to soak in the next leg -- 2,000 more feet straight up to the false summit!!  It certainly looks a little daunting from the lunch counter, but once we started up it, we made pretty good time (we also busted out the ice axes which were nice on the steeper sections).  It started to get pretty windy close to the false summit, and was even windier at the false summit, so we stopped quickly to put on parkas, but kept on moving.  Each step at that altitude was getting harder and harder (I noticed that above about 9,000 feet, I wasn't really winded, per se, but that each step was a chore).

Lunch Counter
Lunch Counter
Path to Piker's Peak (note the little black specks are other scramblers)
Path to Piker's Peak (note the little black specks are other scramblers)

Just past the false summit, we took another little break, donned our parkas and kept going.  After the final push, we had made it!  I think we sumitted at around 1:30 or so, not too bad of a time, especially given that we stopped for nearly an hour at the lunch counter (grumble, grumble).

Taking 'er easy at the false summit
Taking 'er easy at the false summit

We didn't spent too much time at the summit, unfortunately.  I could have stayed there a while -- what a view!  Hubby was feeling some of the effects of the altitude, and our friend said he was getting really hungry (Yikes!  Turns out he apparently didn't bring much food or water...not good).

Summit stick (which also happens to be on TOP of the old cabin up there...weird!)
Summit stick (which also happens to be on TOP of the old cabin up there...weird!)
St. Helens
St. Helens
First look at Mt. Rainier
First look at Mt. Rainier

We all donned some ridiculous glissade gear (and got several comments from other parties on what a fashion statement we were making).  I had on a completely yellow rubber outfit (a la sponge bob square pants); Hubby had on purple rain pants, circa 1986 (that I should note were just a wee too tight); and friend had on some green rubber shorts with suspenders!  We may have looked silly, but it sure beats ripped out the crotch of your expensive rain pants!  My only regret is that we didn't get a group photo of ourselves!  frown.gif

The glissade was fantastic -- certainly a highlight of the trip.  It's pretty amazing to slide down 2,000 feet of snow in just 20 minutes (that took quite a bit longer than that on the way up)!  It was also incredible because there were thousands of butterflies flying low over the snowfield on our way down -- something I didn't notice on the way up.  I had heard there were butterflies up there, but I hadn't expected to see that many!

Note the notch in the snow--that's the "blind" glissade chute from the false summit!
Note the notch in the snow--that's the "blind" glissade chute from the false summit!
View down the mountain
View down the mountain
St. Helens from about 10,000 ft.
St. Helens from about 10,000 ft.

The rest of the hike down was pretty uneventful, save for the Crescent Glacier (so far I've heard many parties getting foiled by this small, yet apparently formidable glacier...any others out there??).  We decided to try and traverse it back to the end of the glacier, rather than hiking down the rocky ridge.  In hindsight, I think I would have rather walked down the ridge.    shakehead.gif    The glacier wasn't great for glissading (heavily suncupped, and a touch too steep at the upper section).  We traversed a bit, which was tricky and not very much fun (I kept slipping and had a chance to practice self-arresting, successful on both attempts).  We eventually did glissade down a bit just to get it over with, and then quickly traversed to the end of the glacier.  From there, we trodded down the scree and the dust, which seemed like it would GO ON FOREVER...our legs were tired and we had been on our feet for 12+ hours.

Plodding down the snowfield below the lunch counter
Plodding down the snowfield below the lunch counter
View of Adams (and the Crescent Glacier) from the climber's trail
View of Adams (and the Crescent Glacier) from the climber's trail
Cairn to mark the way
Cairn to mark the way
Scree and dust!
Scree and dust!
Pretty flowers
Pretty flowers

We finally made it back to the car, promptly took off our boots (ohh) and cracked open some beer (ahh)!

This was a great scramble, a ton of fun, and I can't wait to do it again next year (hopefully, with a touch more snow)!
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payton
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Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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payton
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PostThu Jul 12, 2007 11:50 am 
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congrats on a nice trip.  That glissade sure is fun!
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ActionBetty
Im a dirty hippie!



Joined: 06 Jul 2003
Posts: 4808 | TRs
Location: kennewick, wa
ActionBetty
Im a dirty hippie!
PostThu Jul 12, 2007 2:21 pm 
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Congrats!  I will be looking forward to that same glissade this year.

I never made it to the summit last year, I got just below pikes peak..the glissade was the best part of the trip biggrin.gif

--------------
"If you're not living good, you gotta travel wide"...Bob Marley
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