June 5, 2015 – Mt Adams, Avalanche Glacier Headwall

Conditions were shaping up just right for a trip to Mt Adams, and with both Morgan and Joe game to give the Avalanche Glacier Headwall a try, I knew it would be a great trip.  Joe and I left the Southern Willamette Valley on Thursday afternoon just in time to hit rush hour traffic through Portland, but eventually we made it through and found smooth sailing east bound on I-84.  We worked our way to the town of Trout Lake, grabbed a couple of climbing permits, and headed for the South Climb trailhead.  The mountain had been shrouded in clouds for most of our drive, but did pop out for a view as we neared the trailhead….

The mountain on the drive in

The mountain on the drive in

The parking area at Cold Springs was relatively quiet, and we found a nice place to camp for the evening.  I enjoyed a fresh salad from the garden for dinner, along with a cold beer.  While waiting for Morgan to arrive, we met fellow splitters Jeff and Kelly, and enjoyed their company around the campfire for a couple of hours.  Kelly even made smores.  Morgan arrived around 10:00 pm, and we hit the sack around 10:30, hoping to get on the trail the next morning around 6:30 am.

I was up at 5:30 am on Friday morning, and after a power breakfast of cereal and a banana, Joe and I hit the trail right at 6:30 am, with Morgan shortly behind.  After a mile and a half or so, we reached treeline and started up below the Crescent Glacier.  The views back to the south towards Mt Hood weren’t too shabby either…

Mt Adams & the Crescent Glacier

Mt Adams & the Crescent Glacier

Looking south at Mt Hood

Looking south at Mt Hood

We continued climbing, and worked our way up to climbers left of the Crescent Glaicier, following an old somewhat melted out bootpack.  Morgan caught up with us before we gained the ridge, and the three of us continued up the slopes below Pikers Peak.  Looking west, the snow coverage on Mt St Helens looked more like late July than early August…

St Helens

St Helens

Around 8500 feet, I switched to skins, joining Morgan who was already sliding uphill.  Joe continued booting.  Around 9200 feet, it was time for a quick rest and some lunch before tackling the 2000 foot Suksdorf Ridge below Pikers Peak.  As we climbed, the completely blue sky started to develop a few whispy clouds.  By the time we were nearing the top of Suksdorf, the clouds had thickened considerably, and were threatening to ruin our visibility.

Hiking below Pikers

Joe hiking below Pikers

Morgan climbing Pikers

Morgan on Suksdorf Ridge

As luck would have it, we topped out on Pikers in a whiteout around 11:30 am, so it was time to chill for a half hour to see if conditions improved.  Morgan drank the beer he was hoping to drink on the summit as a sacrifice, and soon a sucker hole formed so we packed up and skinned off towards the summit.  Of course the clouds rolled back in, and most of the climb to the top was in limited visibility.  The clouds did break periodically however, affording excellent views down onto the Klickitat Glacier and back towards Pikers…

More Klickitat

Looking down onto the Klickitat Glacier

Looking back at Pikers Peak

Pikers Peak from below the summit

Around 1:45 pm or so, Joe and reached the 12,276 foot summit of Mt Adams.  Morgan elected to turn back partway up and checkout our line to ensure it would go rather than fight the clouds.  A really nice window in the clouds around 2:00 pm let Joe and I rip corn from the summit, and we rode down towards Morgan, who was ready to rip the headwall of the Avalanche Glacier.  When we met back up with Morgan, we discussed our line and proceeded to drop in to rip 3000 feet of steep corn.  Morgan dropped first, and made big smooth turns on the lower angle slopes above the headwall…

Morgan dropping in

Morgan dropping in

We stopped briefly at the rollover, and then cranked out dozens of turns on the 45 degree face.  Morgan shredded while I fired pictures with the camera….

Ripping the headwall

Ripping the headwall

Morgan

Morgan

Joe dropped next, and skied the line like a knife through butter, making effortless turns down the perfect pitch.  Once Joe was down, I put the camera back in my chest pouch and enjoyed perfect turns down the face for nearly a thousand feet.

Joe

Joe cruising on Mt Adams

Joe

Skiing the Avalanche Glacier Headwall

The line kept going and going, so we kept shredding.  Morgan found some nice turns on the northerly side of the headwall, and proceeded to rip while I captured the below shot of him in the sun and shadows….

Morgan

Morgan

Looking back up the headwall

Looking back up the headwall from halfway down

We rode the lower half of the line with the camera put away, just enjoying the excellent June turns.  At the bottom, we traversed across some avalanche debris and discussed our exit strategy.  Looking back up the slope, a good chunk of our line was still in view at left….

The Line

The Line

Joe

Joe headed down and out

More turns followed on the lower Avalanche Glacier, and then it was time for the final traverse out. I snapped a few more pictures of the guys before we departed….

Morgan stoked after shredding the headwall

Morgan stoked after shredding the headwall

Heading out

Morgan & Joe

Joe and I skied down as far as we could to the round the mountain trail, and were able to link turns down to around 6800 feet.  Morgan headed back around the mountain to pick up his trail shoes, and the three of us met up later at the trailhead.

Headin' home

Headin’ home on the round the mountain trail

By 5:00 pm, we were back at the car enjoying a cold beer, stoked after a day of climbing 7000 feet and riding around 5600 feet in a really poor snow year.  Joe and I wolfed down dinner, finished our beers, and bid Morgan farewell, heading out to spend a couple of days on Mt Jefferson.  As expected, Mt Adams delivered, and I’m already looking forward to a return trip.  Here’s a parting shot looking down at the large cracks of the Klickitat Glacier…

Mt Adam's Klickatat Glacier

Mt Adam’s Klickatat Glacier

 

 

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