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Backpacker Magazine – October 2008

Mt. Adams: Solitude On Ice

Test your self-arrest skills on Mt. Adams's 12,276-foot fractured glacier.

by: Charlie Wood & Casey Lyons

(Dave Schiefelbein)
(Dave Schiefelbein)

The Hike
The slopes of hulking 12,276-foot Mt. Adams boast enough snow and ice routes to satisfy every level of mountaineer. Most climbers hit the easy one- to two-day stroll up the South Spur route, but to put budding mountaineering skills to a true test, summit via the Mazama Glacier route. You'll spend a night at Sunrise Camp, 3.5 miles from Bird Creek Meadows trailhead, then on summit day work west through talus fields to the Mazama Glacier. Rope up to climb a 35-degree snow slope with crevasse hazards to a false summit at 11,657 feet. From here, it's a nearly level stroll to the true summit. Block out three to four days for this 12-mile roundtrip with 6,000 feet of elevation gain.

The Crux
Navigating crevasse-laden terrain.

The Key
On summit day, budget eight hours to reach the top, leaving camp by 2 a.m. in order to cross snowbridges before they weaken in the heat of the day. Stay to the right on the Mazama Glacier to avoid the most crevasse-perforated areas. Use wands to mark your route. Retrace it on the way down, but be prepared to descend the easier (and crevasse-free) South Spur if the weather becomes questionable.

The Way
From Trout Lake, head 4.5 miles north on Mt. Adams Rd. to NFD-82. Turn right and go six miles to the Yakima Indian Reservation boundary. Turn left here onto NFD-8290 and Bird Creek Meadows.

Plan It
(509) 395-3400; fs.fed.us/gpnf/recreation/mount-adams. USGS quads: Mt. Adams East, Mt. Adams West




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READERS COMMENTS

Steve
Nov 19, 2009

The "Most climbers hit the easy one- to two-day stroll up the South Spur route" remark, while not technical it is 6800 feet of Elevation Gain, divde by two and it is still a pretty good hike.

Michael
Jan 30, 2009

No way is it a nearly level stroll from the false summit (Pikers' Peak) to the true summit of Mt. Adams. It's flat for a quarter mile, then goes up steeply.

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