Ascent to Mount Adams-Pikers Peak on 2010-09-22

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Others in Party:James Robinson
Date:Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Adams - Pikers Peak
    Elevation:11658 ft / 3553 m
    Remaining Elevation:618 ft / 188 m (9% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Fantastic trip with James Robinson! We arrived at the TH Tuesday afternoon and departed about 5ish. We got to a spot around 8000'-8200' and to the west of the Crescent Glacier just before sunset and hastily set up camp behind one of many (very well made) wind-breaks. It got cold in a hurry, probably into the 20s and down to teens by morning.

The next morning we set out about day-break, getting to the 'lunch counter' area before the sun finally caught us. Interesting note: of the dozen or so people who were climbing around us, not one could say with any confidence which flat-ish spot was actually the lunch counter, although all were familiar with the term.

We made the shoulder of Pikers Peak at noon and had a clear view of the summit, which looked close enough to touch. Unfortunately I began to experience a crushing headache that was playing with my equilibrium. It was like reverse inebriation, as I could walk a perfectly straight line but I'd swear I was zig-zagging all over the place. The clincher was that I was starting to feel lightheaded. We were traveling unroped (like all other parties we saw that day), and I knew that fainting on the 40ish degree icy slope could be really bad news.

I let out a couple frustrated screams (which didn't help the headache) as James tried to encourage me on to the summit. It was a valiant effort on his part, but I knew that if I wanted the summit as bad as I did and still thought it was the right choice to turn around, then it really was the right choice. Blast!!! I think it was particularly hard for James because (a) he seemed to be doing fine, (b) we had enough daylight and ideal conditions, and (c) he hadn't turned back on an ascent before. To his great credit, once he realized I was adamant that it wasn't a good idea for me to continue - and that I should be getting to lower elevations as soon as possible, he made no complaints. The focus turned to getting back and devouring some huge, poor, unsuspecting burgers (our typical victory celebration).

We descended as quickly as our footing would allow, and my headache began to improve. James had a blast ripping of a few glisades as I plunge-stepped my way down behind him, and we made it back to camp at a fine clip. After a half hour we'd broken camp, re-arranged our gear, and were on our way back to the TH. We made it out in fine shape, my headache by now faded to almost nothing. After unloading and getting changed, we set off in pursuit of our burgers, not realizing that pursuit would prove almost as elusive as Adams' summit.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6178 ft / 1882 m
    Extra Gain:50 ft / 15 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Route:'Standard' south route
    Trailhead:Cold Springs Campground  5580 ft / 1700 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2, Grade
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cold, Windy
Alternating Clear and white-out conditions due to dense clouds.
Ascent Statistics
    Time:7 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: 2010-09 Adams (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1(Attempt) Mount Adams2010-09-22 a6178 ft / 1883 m
2Pikers Peak2010-09-22 b 
Total Trip Gain: 6178 ft / 1883 m    Total Trip Loss: 6178 ft / 1883 m

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