Mount Adams, Elevation 12,276ft
Lyman Glacier (North Portion), 40+ degrees
June 28, 2003
Ben, Jason (Sky, Corey)
The North Portion of the Lyman Glacier. Our ski descent is in red. Part of our climb is in green.
Ben and I found ourselves contemplating what we should ski next. The NFNWR had warmed us up, but we required something else. While swatting numerous sweat bees a plan began to take shape. Climb Lava Ridge and ski the North Portion of the Lyman Glacier.
When morning rose I peeled off my dust covered sleeping bag and rolled it up with all my extras and nonessentials. At the same time, my pack filled up with what I would now need to get me through the day. Indeed, looking around, what a DAY it would BE! Somehow, our luck on Adams seemed unabashed with our yearly outings to its virgin slopes. Like craven, we tested our metal. This year though our familiarities with the mountain made us feel like locals and boy it felt good to be home.
Thinking we would see Sky and Corey, we moved out early and kept our eyes open. Neither wisp nor hair of them did we find, so we continued up the North Ridge until we reached the saddle at which point we eyed the route up Lava Ridge. With skis soon on, we traversed across the flat glacier until we were beneath a neat snow spur that presented us with efficient access to the ridge. Already the day was waking the Lava Headwall and by the time we were halfway up the couloir there was a river of debris continually raining down. This stimulated us to hurry and a few rocks prodded us when any resolve of our legs fainted weakness.
Ben begins the traverse from the North Ridge to the Lava.
Jason climbing a couloir to access Lava Ridge.
Ben climbing the couloir.
Scrambling up loose rock to a point that gave clear sight to the Lyman quickened my heart. Following Ben’s steps I traversed until the entire Lyman was seen spilling from top to bottom in broken disarray. Clearly, though, a path down was narrow but feasible. Grins were carried on our faces as we climbed the final few thousand feet up the Lava Headwall. This was never over 40-45 degrees with enough softness to allow us to easily boot up the face until we reached the large summit cap, intersecting at the same time with the North Ridge.
Jason scouting the Lyman from Lava Ridge.
Ben pulled out his shoes and I packed my crampons away before starting off. Ben soon caught me and we both arrived to the circus on the summit simultaneously. My eyes perused around to a man dragging his skis behind him, several others in brand new glittery gear, and one woman in crampons mysteriously fear struck as she downclimbed the 10-foot summit mound. No Sky or Corey though. Within 10 minutes we were striking out for the Lyman.
Jason skiing the relatively mild upper slopes of the Lyman.
Directions became less obvious as the slope steepened.
As the slope steepened, we began to feel the rush. The sun, the snow, the route, the views, the… so much, too perfect! Ice walls loomed, crevasses gaped hungrily, and the way became questionable as the slope rolled. Our grins were now permanently plastered in immortal gratitude to this mountain that granted us such a treasure as this. Photos will grant remembrance, but the ecstasy of each turn was enough to keep us enlightened to the dangers. Small steeply slanted snow bridges were followed until finally the way was clear of obstacles. Looking back made them look smaller, but still we were happy to have forged a new line. Without words, we both knew we would be back.
Jason dwarfed by seracs.
There came a time to turn…
Directions became less obvious…
but we found a reminder.
There came a time not to turn…
but it was short lived.
Following the steep gutted center, yet smooth slope to the terminus provided free, non-consequential and great swathing turns. We veered far right around the debris and then steadfastly raced across, all the while staring up. Not even an hour before we’d witnessed a rather large debris slide come to rest not far from where we were crossing. From that point on, the danger was gone. I lead the long traverse back to camp. Skins weren’t necessary and we ended up exactly where we wanted to be, just below the lake. After crossing a small field of rocks, we skied the last bit to camp.
Jason taking advantage of the smooth filling.
You can see the crevasse and debris we had to negotiate on the left and right respectively. This section offered a lot more vertical than the photo from below indicates.
The photo from below. Who could resist another look?
Instead of staying we decided to leave. The heat and bugs were beginning to annoy and the weather was supposed to deteriorate. Somehow this justified our leaving. Perhaps worried we might spoil the previous year's three-peat or the past two days of perfection. Really, I think we were content and the blazing sun did little to change our minds.
The meandering meadow.
As we drove the bumpy road back to Randle, we stopped to look at Adams. We tried to see if we could spot Sky and Corey’s tracks with binoculars, but no luck. For all we knew they never came. We later found out they followed our tracks down the Lyman and skied the Adams Glacier on the following day. No matter, we got our fill as did they.
Click here for Sky’s trip report.