Mount Adams-Adams Glacier Route/ North Ridge Descent

I met up with Andy Johnson and Sergio Verdina in Federal Way a little past noon. Andy had agreed to drive, and I wasn't complaining. By 4:00PM we reached the Killen Creek Trailhead on the north side of Mount Adams. As it turned out, there was a NFS vehicle parked at the trailhead and we suddenly felt obligated to pay the $15 per person climbing fee although the only rangers we saw on the trip were more concerned with thier ski down than they were with our with our climbing permits... it's a rough job but someone has to do it, right? Unfortunately, I was the only one with cash ($15 per person, a check will work).

The Adams Glacier

We hiked the Killen Creek Trail from the Killen Creek Trailhead (c.4600', FST 113) for 3.1 miles to the junction with the PCT (C.6100', FST 2000) where we immediately crossed the PCT and continued hiking another 1.0 miles on the High Camp Trail that ends at c.6900 feet at the edge of the Adams Glacier moraine. We continued left up a shallow snow gully (the trail continues in this direction when it melts out) and located some comfortable bivy sites to the left at c.7100'.

After a sometimes drizzly night at camp we awoke to clear skies above but the clouds were just below and appeared to be threatening our attempt. As it would turn out the clouds would never pose a threat on the climb. I think I can safely say that we were all thankful.

We started out about an hour after we awoke and soon passed a party of three that we had encountered a the day before. Since they couldn't seem to figure out how the ice axe loops on thier packs worked I can't say we weren't glad to see them heading down rather than up. This wouldn't be the end of the unprepared climbers we would see on the route.

We continued up the moraine watching two rope teams of three slowing making their way up the glaicer. They stopped at a shelf at c.8500' where we assumed they were taking a break. We roped up at the glacier with Sergio in the lead, I volunteered to go second and Andy was the anchor. As we approached the shelf the two rope teams began heading down. As we passed the leader of the group aked if any of us were, "...intermediate leaders in the Mountaineers?"

Someone said, "No!"

We now had the route to ourselves.

We continued up the glacier. It steepened at about 8500'. After 700-800 feet we began traversing toward a ramp below seracs. It seems likely that we could have avoided the ramp and continued up in on a more direct line but Sergio was trying to make it more interesting.

Sergio traversing toward a ramp at c.9500'

Once across the ramp we cut back to the right and then up a short section of ice. After more snow Sergio started up a 45 degree ice slope which again probably could have been avoided by staying farther right. The ice was about 2 pitches in length. After about one pitch I heard Andy say something. He had broken a crampon. Expecting more snow than ice and trying to shave weight he had brought aluminum crampons. Our location now seemed precarious. I set my axe into solid snow and ice as an anchor since Andy now had both the pickets we had brought as he cleaned our running belay. Sergio set a dead man to back-up my ice axe anchor. I belayed Andy up to me as he cut steps. He had deemed his crampon to be beyond repair but I hadn't fully arrived at the same conclusion. I climbed up to Sergio then brought Andy up where I made due with our limited resources. I wouldn't say the crampon was as good as new but it was usable.

Andy's "repaired" crampon

We continued up another 200-300 feet to arrive at a large crevasse. It was obvious that we could not get across to the west so we began traversing east.

Sergio at the edge of the large Crevasse at c.10,800'

Andy near the edge of the large crevasse at c.10,800'

Me traversing below the crevasse

Finally, after traversing most of the upper glacier we spot a way across. We took a short break below a large serac before continuing. After a short step up then some moderate ice we were in the clear.

Sergio gets across and I wait for my turn

Above this we dodged a few crevasses below a massive ice fall then made an escape to the left where we took our first real break of the day. It was after 1:00PM and we were still only at about 11,200'. After our break we continue up on easy neve to the summit plateau where we dropped our packs and headed for the summit. We didn't stay long.

Finally on easier terrain at c.11,400'

Me, Sergio and Andy on the summit of Mount Adams

We descended via the North Ridge which is fairly straight forward. I have several reports that have details about the descent route. We arrived back in camp a little before 6:00pm and the trailhead around 8:00pm.

Cascade Climbers Guide, Volume 1, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 55, 60, 61
Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Volume 1; Jim Nelson and Peter Potterfield; Pages 25-27
Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Volume 2; Jim Nelson and Peter Potterfield; Pages 23-25