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Monday, June 27, 2011

Mount Adams

It was the last weekend before our attempt on Mt Rainier - Scott, Eric, Jediah, Matt, Anders, Chris, and myself decided to spend it on Mount Adams. At 12,276 ft, Mount Adams is the second highest mountain in Washington. It does not get the traffic of Mt St Helens to the west, or Mt Hood to the south, but it offered us a chance to get more valuable climb and camping experience before next weekend. We decided to take the South Spur Route, which is the most commonly climbed route on the mountain. It typically begins at the Cold Springs Campground at about 5,600 ft, but due to high snowfall this year, the campground is currently under 8 feet of snow, and the road is blocked. We got to hike in an extra ~3 miles, and 1,000 vertical feet! Luckily we were blessed with wonderful sunny and warm weather for the weekend.
We departed the cars in the early afternoon and hiked along the road over snow and fallen trees. When we reached the campground, all we could see was the tops of the structures that were buried in snow. A few hours later, we reached a nice spot at about 7,500 ft where we could make camp. Some got working on boiling water, while others set up the tents. We had an amazing view while the sunset over the ridge to the west of us. We watched the sky light up over the peaks of Hood and Helens while we ate our freeze dried dinners and ramen noodles.
We left camp at 4:30 am, and started our climb guided by our headlamps, the snow hard from the freeze over night. Shortly after we started, the sun began to peak over the east edge of the mountain. One of the really cool sights was the triangular shadow of Mount Adams cast onto the floor of the valley below us.
At approximately 9,500 ft we came upon a large open slope we would be climbing 2,000 ft to the "false summit" at Pikers Peak. We took a brief rest, took in some great views, then continued on up to the summit at 12,276. From there, we could see many of the large peaks in the Cascades, as far as Mt Baker in the north and the Three Sisters in the south.
The most memorable part of the descent back to camp was the slope from Pikers Peak. Enough people have gone down that there was a well worn glissade path all set for us. What we had was basically a 2,000 ft bobsled run to shoot ourselves down. If the hike up didn't take so long, and if my legs weren't so tired, I would have loved to do that part again. We returned to camp, packed up, and hiked the rest of the way out, returning to the cars mid-afternoon.
Altogether the seven of us had a great time. It gave us more valuable experience climbing and camping, as well as a heck of a weekend of training. Now we have 5 days to recover and relax before our attempt on Mt Rainier.

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