Mount Adams, Elevation 12,276ft
North Face of the Northwest Ridge, 40+ degrees
June 19-21, 2001
Ben, Jason, Josh
Ski descent from the top of the West Peak. Day two.
I'd been out of school for over a week, watching the weather move in and out, itching to get out. The Hummels just got back from their 3+ week fishing trip in a last minute effort to raise some cash. We spent the first few days kayaking the NF Nooksack and Upper Suiattle to relieve our stress. The forecast called for several days of good weather so we decided to head to the North Side of Adams for my annual hit.
The Hummels had never skied the North Side of Adams except for some cheap turns off the North Ridge. I skied the North Face of the Northwest Ridge each spring for the past two years. Spring 99 with Charlie and Spring 00 with Troy and Tygh. It's definitely the best ski that I've found. The Hummels have suffered in envy.
The tales of steeps and exposure are mostly exaggerated. The steeps are quite pleasant under most snow conditions and the exposure is nothing to worry about as long as you don't fall. I've lucked out the past two years with good weather and decent snow. I wasn't sure what to expect this year with the low snowpack.
We left Seattle Tuesday afternoon. The Mazda was packed full with ski and kayak gear, most of which was ditched in Morton. We stopped for groceries and sunglasses along the way. It was a long drive but we made it to the trailhead with more than enough daylight to reach camp. We started hiking around 5pm after an hour of wasteful packing. Jason managed to forget his ski pants. That wasn't that big of deal but watching him try to stuff 3 days worth of food and overnight gear into a daypack (Dana Design Bomb) was very frustrating. I spent most of the time reading the numerous permits and swatting mosquitoes. What an annoying way to begin a trip.
We hiked about 3 miles before hitting snow. The views and weather were encouraging. We stopped for a drink before climbing the slope below camp.
Josh and Jason on the slope below camp.
We made it to camp around 7pm. The NFNWR looked doable and the Adams Glacier looked even better. There were no people so we decided to take an easy camp near the stream. We laid down our heavy packs and fixed a quick dinner. Jason wandered around filming while Josh and I headed towards the glacier for a short ski. We reached the rocks at the foot of the Adams Glacier after 20 minutes of hiking. The sun was beginning to set so we wasted little time switching over to ski gear. I took a quick photo as we headed back to camp on open slopes with corn snow. It felt good to be back.
Josh carving the corn at sunset.
My alarm rang at 5:30 the next morning. I didn't sleep that well except for the morning hours when it was time to wake up. Oh well, there was good skiing to be had.
I packed my boots, skis, crampons and axe and we were on our way by 7am. We followed our tracks from the previous evening and continued across the Adams Glacier to the North Ridge. We passed a solo climber camped near the ridge and he followed a short ways behind. We made it to the ridge in just over an hour where we stopped for sunscreen and a bite to eat.
Break on the North Ridge.
Tennis shoes invited us to continue. We were able to stay on rock most of the way which allowed for an easy scramble up the broken ridge. Our only difficulty was trying to keep our eyes on the trail as the NFNWR and Adams Glacier provided a constant distraction. We stopped a couple times to check it out with Josh's binoculars.
The NFNWR and Adams Glacier from about halfway up the North Ridge. Our ski descent is seen in red.
We made our final push from about halfway up the ridge. The climb was more or less over when we reached the summit plateau. This was the Hummels high point from a few years back when the wind was so bad we could barely walk. Now it was a simple stroll that gave the snow some time to soften up. We reached the top around 11am. 4 hours and 20 minutes from camp for myself. Not bad.
There were several other climbers and skiers that came from the South Spur. Just enough to feel welcome but not enough to be disturbed.
Josh, myself and Jason on the summit looking north towards the West Peak and Rainier.
We were all anxious to get going so we skied north towards the West Peak. A quick hike led us to the top where we chilled for another 30 minutes before dropping in.
Jason hiking towards the West Peak.
Jason and Josh on the West Peak with Rainier and the Goat Rocks in the background.