Steep Terrain Climbing on Mount Adams
Scott, Brian and I left from Seattle on July 4th to attempt the Adams Glacier route on Mount Adams. As we approached the trailhead we found the road blocked by snow about one half mile from the trailhead. So we packed up and got ready for our 5 hour hike in to a great camp spot at 7,800 feet just below the glacier.
Camp below the Adams Glacier. Alan Rousseau photo
Our camp provided us with great access to a lower icefall where we spent the second day working on skills like fixed line ascension, steep ice climbing technique, multi-pitch transitions, and crevasse rescue. We went through skills that would be needed for our next day’s ascent as well as skills Scott and Brian will likely use on future adventures to the mountains. We wrapped up skills around 5 pm cooked up some mac n’ cheese, and got to sleep early to rest up for summit day.
Practicing ice climbing techniques. Alan Rousseau photo
The alarm woke me from a deep sleep at 2:30 am, as much as I wanted to go back to sleep, I knew we needed an early start to minimize our danger from rock and serac fall So I laced up my cold boots, put on a puffy jacket and headed to the stoves to get some hot water ready for breakfast. By 3:30 we were out of camp and headed to the objective. The three of us reached first technical difficulties on the glacier at around 4:45 am. We climbed up the first 65 degree ice step quickly and began moving together again up the glacier. After about 45 minutes on 40 degree neve we hit our next section of pitched climbing. This consisted of 70 degree ice for about 50 feet followed by a 40 meter stretch of firm 70 degree ice.
Steep terrain! Alan Rousseau photo
Taking a break. Alan Rousseau photo
Above this step we were able to walk together again for another 25 minutes before reaching what turned out to be a dead end! The labyrinth that is the Adam’s glacier had sucked me into a leg of the maze that did not lead us to the cheese. So we reversed back a bit and tried a couple other options. Eventually we found a weakness in a crevasse that offered us an exit via 8 feet of overhanging glacial ice. This turned out to be our final technical difficulty and we continued slowly but surely up the Adam’s glacier. At 11:20 am we topped out onto the summit plateau. After a short break in the high winds, and lowering cloud level, we headed for our descent route down the north ridge.
Alan Rousseau photo
On the summit! Alan Rousseau photo
After 2.5 hours we found a snow couloir that that dropped us down toward camp we pulled in right around 3:15pm making it just under a 12 hour day. Mission complete, great effort fellas, thanks for a fun and safe few days and I hope team “three men on a ledge” can get back in the mountains again.
~ MM Guide Alan Rousseau