Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt Adams Summit Bivy, Dec 7-8, 2019
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Eric Gilbertson
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2018
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Eric Gilbertson
  Top

Member
PostTue Dec 10, 2019 10:42 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Mount Adams (12,267ft) Summit Bivy

Dec 7-8, 2019, Eric

I needed to preacclimate for an upcoming high altitude mountaineering trip, so wanted to get as high as possible for as long as possible over the weekend. I considered climbing Rainier, but with bad weather forecast Saturday it seemed likely the road to the trailhead at Paradise might not even be opened. That decision wouldnít be announced until Saturday morning, so seemed risky. Mt Hood would have a reliably-open trailhead, but seemed like it would be crowded and not as high as Mt Adams. Mt Adams had zero red tape, had a crevasse-free route to the summit which meant soloing would relatively safe, and I could probably camp on the summit above 12,000ft.

The forecast was for precipitation starting Friday night and continuing through Saturday night. But Sunday would be clear, so I figured if I could tough it out Saturday and hike up to the summit through the whiteout, I would be rewarded with a nice sunrise Sunday morning.

My campsite on the summit
My campsite on the summit
The first light near treeline Saturday morning.
The first light near treeline Saturday morning.
Entering the whiteout above treeline
Entering the whiteout above treeline

The road to the south side trailhead on Mt Adams was reportedly driveable as of Tuesday according to the Gifford Pinchot forest service website. However, there was forecast to be up to 9 inches of snow falling at Paradise Friday night through Saturday night (at a similar elevation, around 5,500ft). So it was unclear if the road would stay open past Saturday, or get snowed over. The road to the south side trailhead is unmaintained, so once it gets snowed over you have to wait until May until the snow melts out.

Friday night I drove down to Trout Lake and up road FS 8040. There were many fresh blowdowns over the road that had very recently been sawed out. I hit snow on the road around 5,000ft and in several places the center was deep enough to bottom out the forester. I made it to the trailhead at 5,600ft, unsurprisingly the only one there. I stopped to decide on a plan. It seemed risky to park there for the next few days. If it snowed as predicted, I could probably barely make it down with an extra 9 inches of snow on the road. But if the forecast was a bit off and snow level was lower, I could easily get stuck. Just about then it started snowing very hard, quickly blanketing all remaining dirt patches on the road.

I reluctantly made the call to park 1,000ft below projected snowline to ensure I wouldnít get stuck. I drove back down to 4,600ft, just below a gate at the Morrison Camp turnoff. At that elevation the snow had turned to heavy rain. I parked on the side of the road, crawled in the back of the car and went to sleep.

My view for about the next 6 hours
My view for about the next 6 hours
My campsite Saturday evening on the summit
My campsite Saturday evening on the summit
Sunrise the next morning
Sunrise the next morning

The next morning a thin coating of snow blanketed the ground, but it had changed to cold rain. I scarfed down some food and starting hiking at 3:45am through the rain with all my overnight gear. As I got higher the rain changed to a heavy snow, and luckily I hadnít gotten too wet yet.

I reached the trailhead an hour later, trudging through deeper fresh snow. I put on my snowshoes then, following faint tracks likely from last weekend. The trail was pretty easy to follow up to the edge of treeline. Just as I emerged above treeline the sky was bright enough to no longer need my headlamp. However, it was becoming a thicker whiteout as I moved higher.

I managed to follow the intermittent wooden posts up to the ~8,000ft bivy sites, but above then it was basically navigating by GPS. I tried to follow rocks sticking out of the snow to have some reference points, but often just pushed up through the snow. Progress was pretty slow breaking trail solo.

Eventually I topped out on Pikers Peak, and then the wind and snow really picked up. The whole left side of my body (the windward side) was becoming plastered in thick rime ice. It took approximately 60 seconds for my goggles to ice over on the outside, so I was constantly scraping the ice off. I could barely see my snowshoes, and got a bit turned around in the flat area between Pikers Peak and the summit.


It wasnít actually that dangerous, though, since I was fully prepared to camp wherever I wanted with full winter overnight gear in my pack. The conditions couldnít really get much worse, I figured, so if Iím going to camp anywhere it had better be the summit so I can get the most acclimation.

Summit panorama
Summit panorama

By 2:30pm my GPS showed I was on the summit, though it was impossible to tell. I eventually stumbled across the wooden structure up there, which indeed verified I was on the summit. However, it was completely buried in snow except for a small patch of wood visible between the 3ft-long rime ice feathers. I managed to find a small region on the leeward side where the wind was a bit less ferocious, and quickly set about making a campsite.

I used my snowshoes to level out a platform, then carefully staked out the tent with my ice ax, hiking poles broken down, and deadmen anchors. I then crawled in the tent to insert the poles, and dug out a nice vestibule. I crawled in the tent and wouldnít leave for about the next 16 hours.

Over the next few hours I melted snow from the vestibule and put the warm nalgenes under my shirt. I also worked to peel the rime ice off all my clothes, and cooked up three packs of Ramen noodles for dinner. By 5:30pm I was done with all my chores, and pretty cold and tired still, so crawled in my doubled-up sleeping bag setup and went to sleep.

The wind and snow appeared to continue throughout the night, until about 3am when the wind intensified. I recalled
it was forecast to change from SW to NW, and the shift must have happened then. Thatís also about the time my pad had self-deflated enough for me to be resting on the snow and very cold. I reluctantly got out of my bags to re-inflate my pad. After 3am I never really got any more sleep, through a combination of the wind shaking my tent and me being very cold (despite doing situps). I regretted not just bringing my heavier-20F bag. It was definitely a good character-building experience though. I just hoped the forecast was correct for clearing Sunday.

Summit shadow
Summit shadow
Looking west
Looking west
Standing on the true summit a little bit to the east
Standing on the true summit a little bit to the east

By 6:30am I poked my head out the tent and the skies were clear! There was an undercast in almost all directions, with Rainier and Hood sticking out prominently. It was quite cold, and I really wanted to stay in my sleeping bag, but convinced myself to get outside quickly to catch sunrise.

I suited up, crammed my feet into my frozen boots, and braved the cold and wind to get some cool pictures. I soon retreated back to the tent and crawled back in the sleeping bag. Over the next hour I waited while the sun warmed up the tent and I warmed up my frozen toes.

By 9am I decided to head down so I could get back to Seattle at a reasonable hour. Iím not sure if an extra hour above 12,000ft would help with acclimation, or if the benefit really comes from merely being exposed to 12,000ft and returning to sea level to let my body recover. At any rate, I was moving down by 9:30am.

Navigation was infinitely easier this time, and I easily hiked down over Pikers Peak, then plunge stepped down the south slopes. I then crossed over some exposed rocks and switched to snowshoes as the terrain leveled. I descended down to the 8,000ft bivy sites and was surprised to see another group of skiers and snowshoers ascending. It seemed a bit late in the day, around 11am, but they said they were going for the summit. Hopefully my tracks helped.

Hiking back down
Hiking back down
Descending below the undercast
Descending below the undercast
Looking back up at the summit
Looking back up at the summit

I quickly descended back down through the trees and reached the trailhead around noon. Interestingly, much less than 9 inches of snow had fallen, and there were four hardcore trucks parked there. It looked like two of them were snowmobilers and the other two were from the group of skiers and snowshoers. In hindsight my forester could have certainly made it down in those conditions. But I think I made the right choice to minimize the chance of getting stuck there til spring. Itís much safer to drive up a road as high as possible in good stable weather than to drive up in worsening weather, and park while more snow accumulates.

I continued hiking down the road for another hour back to my car, which was almost exactly at the edge of snowline. I didnít even have to put chains on, and was soon driving back to Seattle.

Link to full report and more pictures
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian R
Member
Member


Joined: 10 Feb 2018
Posts: 284 | TRs
Location: Fircrest WA
Brian R
  Top

Member
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 12:50 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wow! Absolutely amazing. I've climbed it by six different routes, skied it, done a circumnavigation--but I would never have the b@!!s to do a trip like this. Well done.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Gil
Member
Member


Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 3795 | TRs

Gil
  Top

Member
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 6:40 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Beautiful summit images!

--------------
Friends help the miles go easier.
Klahini
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
thunderhead
Member
Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2015
Posts: 1037 | TRs

thunderhead
  Top

Member
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 8:33 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Legit climb!  What are you preparing for?  Aconcagua?  Some other Andean peak?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Blowdown
Clearing Trails



Joined: 24 Aug 2011
Posts: 290 | TRs
Location: On the Summit
Blowdown
  Top

Clearing Trails
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 1:00 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
It was definitely a good character-building experience though.

  Ya think?!?   biggrin.gif

When we climbed Kilimanjaro a few years back, the guides said that acclimation is most effective in the days leading up to the ascent, because your body adjusts back to the lower elevations fairly quickly. For prep, he said just doing lots of aerobic exercise is sufficient, and to leave yourself extra time before the climb to acclimatize. But I'd say that trip qualifies as lots of aerobic exercise!

Awesome work! Way to watch the weather!   up.gif  up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ski
><((((į>



Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 11141 | TRs
Location: tacoma
Ski
  Top

><((((į>
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 1:46 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
eek.gif

--------------
"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
reststep
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 4415 | TRs

reststep
  Top

Member
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 1:53 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks for the report.

thunderhead wrote:
What are you preparing for?

I was curious also on what is on your list that you are preparing for.

--------------
"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Eric Gilbertson
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2018
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Eric Gilbertson
  Top

Member
PostWed Dec 11, 2019 10:24 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
What are you preparing for?

I'll be trying to hit a few 20,000ft peaks in Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador (Sajama, Parinacota, Pomerape, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi).
For acclimation it's my understanding that it's very specific to the person, but one rule of thumb is the time spent acclimating is roughly the time it takes to deacclimate. Also, that the more times you expose yourself to altitude the faster your body will acclimate on future trips. (Reference: Training for New Alpinism by House/Johnston).

In the past I've done 3 days at Camp Muir (10kft), then 3 days in Seattle, then flew down to do aconcagua on a somewhat accelerated schedule (11 days) with no problem, so a bit of pre-acclimation might be helping me for these sorts of trips.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Michael Lewis
Taking a nap



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
Posts: 589 | TRs
Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
Michael Lewis
  Top

Taking a nap
PostThu Dec 12, 2019 2:21 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Way to go on the summit bivy!  I look forward to seeing your trip to SA. Hope you remember to bring the warm bag
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1917 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
  Top

High on the Outdoors
PostThu Dec 12, 2019 4:46 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Excellent! Enjoy Sajama. I wanted to run over and do it after Illimani but was done at that point. Next time!

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
thunderhead
Member
Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2015
Posts: 1037 | TRs

thunderhead
  Top

Member
PostThu Dec 12, 2019 11:54 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Nice... sounds like an awesome trip!  Ive done the Ecuador bit though Chimborazo's scary slide conditions turned me around early.

In the opinion of this climber, hanging out in Quito or other highland bars and restaurants is also a great way to acclimatize  cool.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Bernardo
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Feb 2010
Posts: 2096 | TRs
Location: out and about in the world
Bernardo
  Top

Member
PostThu Dec 12, 2019 7:45 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Very cool! Or should I say cold?  Nice and done safely too!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
iluka
Member
Member


Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 61 | TRs
Location: Seattle, WA
iluka
  Top

Member
PostFri Dec 13, 2019 1:50 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Lots of opinions and myths out there about how best to acclimatize ahead of a trip to high altitude but very little in the way of evidence to support most of the claims.

In regards to some specific comments made in the thread:

- Exercise training ahead a climb will help with performing physical work at high altitude and make exertion at high altitude more tolerable but it doesn't promote acclimatization in the sense that it will not prevent acute mountain sickness, HACE or HAPE.

- A single trip to 12K overnight well ahead of the planned trip to high altitude isn't likely to be of much benefit in terms of acclimatization. In the end, the utility of such trips depends on several factors including how high one goes, how long they stay there, how frequently they do it and how close it is to the eventual trip. A single trip to Muir or the top of Adams a few weeks before heading off to climb Kilimanjaro won't do anything. Spending two weeks hanging out in Colorado, climbing to the tops of the 14ers and then heading from there over to Kilimanjaro would be of more benefit.

Single trips up Adams like this won't really hurt someone (apart from the risk of getting lost in a whiteout, frostbite, hypothermia etc on this particular trip) but whether they promote true acclimatization that will provide benefit on a subsequent trip to high altitude is unclear.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Eric Gilbertson
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2018
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Eric Gilbertson
  Top

Member
PostFri Dec 13, 2019 9:39 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks for the feedback iluka.

Quote:
very little in the way of evidence to support most of the claims.

In fact, there is evidence for the claims I specifically made, which can be found in the reference I mentioned. The rule of thumb that the time to deacclimate is roughly the time to acclimate is based on the study in the reference of individuals living at 4,000m for 16 days, then going to sea level for 7 days, then returning to 4,000m and were found to retain about 50% of their acclimation.
Thus, the trip I mentioned of me staying at Muir for 3 days, then 3 days at sea level, then starting aconcagua would be roughly consistent with retaining a bit of acclimation. I agree if it had been instead a 2-week rest at sea level there would likely be no benefit.

I agree it would be difficult to rigorously test the idea that repeated exposure to high altitude helps acclimation in the long run. This concept is based on noted high-altitude mountaineers like Anatoli Boukreev who trained by doing many trips to 10,000ft - 13,000ft peaks during the year. Thus, doing as many trips like this to Adams and Rainier over the year would be consistent with Boukreev's training for high altitude.

The other claim that acclimation is very specific to the individual is based on my own experience. I have no problem going sea level to summit of 15,700ft peaks in the same day on multiple occasions (Mt Fairweather, Mt Blanc), though I know this is not necessarily normal.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
cascadeclimber
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Sep 2006
Posts: 1327 | TRs

cascadeclimber
  Top

Member
PostFri Dec 13, 2019 9:46 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Strong work, nice pics.

--------------
If not now, when?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt Adams Summit Bivy, Dec 7-8, 2019
  Happy Birthday One Day Wonder, Middle E, mbtigger!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy