Ascent of Mount Adams on 2017-07-16

Climber: Harvest Mondello

Date:Sunday, July 16, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Adams
    Elevation:12276 ft / 3741 m

Ascent Trip Report

Ascent of Adams Glacier Icefall Route (AG III, AI 2.) Descent via South Spur (I). Carry over. The other descent option is the North ridge which is said to be a long scree slog.

Party of two: Brad & H. Our first time on this route. Swapped leads for route finding and ice pitches.

History: FA of Adams Glacier by Fred Beckey, Dave Lind, and Robert Mulhall July 1945. The Fred Becky Guidebook says 4-6 hours on glacier.

The Approach: Killen Creek Trailhead, 7-14, 6 miles, 5 hours & 15 minutes, 3,350 elevation gain.

Killen Creek Trailhead starts at 4,600 elevation. We passed thru gorgeous pine forest & beautiful flower filled meadows. It was 5 miles & 3 hours to High Camp (yes, that's the actual name of the camp) at 6,900 elevation. There's plentiful water running here and this would be an amazing camp for backpacking but is too low for a climbers camp. It was another 1 mile & 2 hours on a rugged climbers trail then cross country along scree fields to the base of Adams Glacier at what I'm calling "Camp Icefall", elevation 7,950. We camped in a protected area at the edge of the glacier with natural wind protection from rock outcrops. There was runoff water pooling here next to our camp. We saw an epic red sunset! The icefall sections would rumble during the early night as ice blocks fell until temps cooled enough for this to freeze in place.

The Adams Glacier Climb: 7-15, 15 hours, 4 1/2 miles walked (2 miles as the crow flies), 4,000 elevation gain on glacier.

2 hours of glacier travel to the base of the Adams Glacier Headwall. We went right up the glacier over crevassed snow bridges and my partner post holed into the first snow bridge up to his hips. No boot path. I suspect some of this bridges will be out within a week.

Around halfway up we encountered several un-passable crevasses which spanned the entire glacier. This is where we deviated from the Fred Becky FA route and turned to the icefall area. We went left over black glacier ice on to the Adams Glacier Icefall (that had recently been shearing off the evening before). Solid alpine ice; AI 2, 30 meter pitches. 17cm screws came in handy for anchors in the icefall section. 3 pitches thru the jumble of icefall and we were back on the glacier.

Later in the day several rocks fell off the NW ridge flying over our heads at high speeds.

The upper portion of the glacier had several more soft snow bridges which we protected with pickets on the right side of the glacier(another deviation from the standard route which stays to the left side of the glacier here). At least one bridge will be out with a week. We used up many hours traversing along crevasses looking for safe bridges to cross. The last show bridge of the day was wind frozen over nicely from sustained winds of 25 mph coming from the Southwest.

At this point we're over 14 hours into the glacier climb. We gain the upper lip of Adams Glacier where winds are 30 mph with 40 gusts. Here there's a 6 inch layer of alpine ice that breaks as you take a step so you post hole as you shift your weight each step. The last section was a type 2 suffer fest. 15 hours into our climb we pitch our tent for the night just before dusk at the false summit on the NW side of the mountain at 11,950 at what I'm calling "Higher Camp!".

The next morning we awoke at 10am to a warm windless day with everything in the tent frozen. We took our time relaxing and having breakfast while waiting for things to soften up and broke our camp at 11am.

Summit day and descent: 7-16 It was 30 minutes, 1/4 mile and 326 elevation to the summit in the morning. Naturally there was crowds coming up the South Spur Route.

Descend via the South Spur Route & out via Cold Springs Trailhead. I glissaded from the summit to the treeline! 6 miles out. 3 1/2 hours out to Cold Spring Trailhead.

Gear recommended: glacier rope, 4 ice screws (17's & 1 22), 4 pickets & 2 snow flukes per party of two.

Smoke from fires in the distance. No smoke where we were at.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7676 ft / 2339 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6676 ft / 2034 m
    Grade/Class:AG III / AI 2
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Glacier Climb, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Headlamp, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:7676 ft / 2339 m
    Route:Adams Glacier Icefall
    Start Trailhead:4600 ft / 1402 m
    Time:18 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:6676 ft / 2034 m
    Route:South Spur
    End Trailhead:5600 ft / 1706 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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