Mount Adams

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 What:  This is a very popular climb for skiers, snowboarders, and others who wish to begin to learn about high-altitude mountaineering. The snowfields are challenging, but fairly safe even for novices. There are lots of fellow-hikers around to help, if you do have trouble. If you want to actually reach the top, which is fairly difficult, unless you are in superb physical shape, you must take this climb seriously. You must prepare for it and plan on 3 days of hiking. Do not expect to drive home on the third day. Allow 4 full days for this trip. Be sure to call ahead to the ranger station; new specialized permits are being considered, and soon the number of climbers may be limited. A good practice for this hike is Scotchman Peak, near Clark Fork, ID.

We planned and hiked for 2 months before going. We made it to the Lunch Counter on the first day of hiking, but it took all of our energy. All 6 of us had problems just getting our tents up, cooking a meal, and melting water for the next day. Our tents were behind 6 foot rock walls, but the protection was not enough to afford a good night's sleep. All night the winds buffeted our tents, keeping us awake listening for our tent stakes being pulled out. The next morning the wind was so strong we knew a summit attempt was doomed. We gave up, but had lots of fun glissading down the mountain in an easy 2 hours. For each of 3 people there must be a stove that functions well at high altitude to melt about 2 pans of snow for each person's day of hiking to the summit. There is a stream on the mountain, but it is near Timberline. You cannot carry enough water for 2 days, due to weight. Set goals for your group, but if you are not able to reach those goals, be prepared, and use good judgment to turn around before problems become serious. You will have so much fun just reaching the bottom of Crescent Glacier, that it is worth the preparation. The four main reasons you may not reach the top are: Injury, physical exhaustion, altitude sickness and/or weather conditions. If the wind is blowing hard enough to shake your tent at Lunch Counter, at the summit you will not be able to stand up, so it's best not to make an attempt. Understand that if you have trouble getting to Lunch Counter, getting to the summit is even more steep and difficult.

Staying the night at Lunch Counter should help with the altitude sickness problems, but if you experience headaches, nausea and dizziness, slide down the mountain about 2,000 feet. It took us 9 hrs to get to Lunch Counter from Cold Springs. It took 2 hrs to come down, glissading part of the way. Deciding when to use crampons is another major issue. Most people do not use them in real slushy snow, but if you are having trouble slipping, try them and they may help a lot. They are mainly used in icy conditions, but we used them almost all the way from Timberline to Lunch Counter when we were there. To learn more about crampons and the use of the ice axe, see the book Mountaineering. Another interesting phenomenon is that with all the snow fields, and the bright star light, it never really gets too dark up at Lunch Counter.


 Where:  From White Salmon on the WA/OR border, drive to Trout Lake. First you must check in at the Ranger Stn before 6pm on your first day (for example, Thurs) At the ranger stn, you must try to get reliable current conditions from the ranger staff. The most important thing to get, besides the 2 permits you'll need, is directions to Cold Springs campground, what the current preferred route up the mountain is, and how to find a good wind-protected campsite at Lunch Counter, because mild winds at ground level can be major windstorms on the mountain.

Thursday night, before dark, you will park at Cold Springs, and hike 2-3 miles to Timberline camping area. This is a hike on a mostly dirt trail, that is easy to follow, but do not combine it with the main hike the 2nd day, to Lunch Counter, because it may make you to tired at Lunch Counter to choose & set up a good campsite.

Your second day's goal is to get from Timberline to Lunch Counter. The ranger may ask you to go around Crescent Glacier, or straight through it, but do not expect a well-trod trail to lead you all the way. The sun melts people's tracks so you must get used to landmarks to guide you. This is not too difficult, even for your first time, but continuously, you must look back, to get landmarks for your trip down, or you very well could become lost in a large forest southwest of the mountain. To avoid this, once you get below Crescent Glacier, walk east until you hit the well-trodden trail around Timberline that will take you down to Cold Springs again.


 Cautions:  There is NO WATER at Cold Springs, Lunch Counter or the summit (except snow melt at the last two places) Bring water! You can melt snow on your stove & purify it with tablets or a filter. It would take too long to boil.
Be sure to practice a self-belay on your way up if you aren't familiar with using an ice axe to stop or control a slide. Usage of the ice axe is critical to learn. It comes very easily, but you need to watch someone who knows how to use it before you go up, so you will not make a mistake.
Make sure you know how to put your crampons on correctly so they will not slide off. Get the best mountaineering boots you can. You can get advice, and rent or buy gear from either Mountain Gear or REI in Spokane.
The weather can range from very hot to very cold in the space of an hour, so you'll need layers.

 List:  
Water purification tablets
Water for the first day
Cooking pan (for melting snow and cooking)
Stove, gas, lighter, wind shield
Small amount of food
Headlight for early morning hike
Shell upper/lower
2nd day layers (capilene top & bottom, polarfleece top)
Sunglasses
Sunscreen
Insect repellent
Camera
Gloves
Knife
Water container
Tent
Pad for sleeping
Sleeping bag
First Aid Kit
Compass
Crampons and ice axe
Pack
Toilet paper, pack out all eliminated solids and paper, Ranger Station mayhave blue bags for this purpose.
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