About two months ago, while having a few beers my buddy Tim, he told me he was planning a trip to climb Mt. Adams, and asked if I was interested. With my courage shored with by a few cold Dos Equis I said I'd love to join the group. The plan was to drive to Trout Lake on the first day and hike from the parking area to "base camp" around 9000ft. There we would set up a camp eat sleep and prep for day two. The second day would include a pre daylight excursion and climb for a mid morning summit then head back to base camp pack up and head to the truck for a night of camping BBQ'ing and drinking.i
We met Saturday morning to lay out all our gear and determine what was needed and try and eliminate duplicate stuff. We had done a pretty good job of getting our stuff lined up but we still needed a last minute trip to REI and the grocery store. We met at my place Sunday morning at 6am and headed to Trout Lake Ranger station to register for the trip. It cost $15 for a weekend pass. We were told the snow level was very low and we would have to park 2.5 miles below the trail head at 4400 ft, which was great because 15 miles didn't seem like quite far enough to walk! Since it was Sunday morning there were quite a few cars parked on the road to the trailhead but we found a spot and headed up the mountain. Thanks to the low snow level the hike had a nice little warm up of 2.3 miles to the trailhead. The snow was pretty consistent at the trail head and made the walk much more difficult.
Setting up camp for the night was super cool. We were at about 8900 feet, well above the tree line and the place looked like the moon. No life anywhere just big volcanic boulders snow and a few small sheltered areas that had been dug in by previous hikers. The common place to stay is called Lunch Counter by the professionals we were about 600-700 feet below that but as I said before, we were gassed, and seeing 2 small nooks for the tents among the rocks was a life saver! We pitched our tents and set about unpacking and cooking dinner... That is melting to snow to make enough warm water to cook our MRE’s. The selection of MRE’s is pretty good and you can have just about anything, some good some bad. In my limited experience, keep it simple. If it is normally dehydrated it’ll taste better ie. dehydrated noodles and rice - good... dehydrated Chicken breast with Mashed potatoes - bad.
We were settled in about 9pm and pretty much ready for bed. I put on a fresh pair of socks which was better than ___ (I’ll let you fill in the blank), then threw in a packet of Via coffee kicked my feet up and watched the sun set over Hood, St Helens, and the entire lower Columbia Basin. Very Cool! About 10:30 I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore (even though it was still daylight) so we turned in for the night. We were a little worried because it was about 28 degrees with a 20mph wind, but in the small tent and our bags we slept like babies and there were no reports of anyone getting cold.
We set the alarm for 5:00am, a Little later than we originally thought, but after talking with several people on the way way up it was determined we didn’t need to start so early.We were all up before 5 and never heard the alarm go off.
Hot breakfast (dehydrated granola in milk for me) another cup of coffee and we were off! We started walking about 6am. The Summit is 12,300 ft so we had approx 3400 vertical to climb today. The ascent to the false summit is massive and intimidating, but I found it to be easier if you just don’t look up... Everyone I had talked with warned me to be ready for the surprise of how much farther we had after reaching the false summit, and they weren’t kidding! I was the first of our group to reach the false summit so i had time to watch a ventricular cloud formation blow over the summit and completely white out the view. By the time the rest of the guys got there it was pretty menacing looking. We decided to trudge on and see what the mountain would bring!
The hike after the false summit went surprisingly quick. Before we knew it we were standing on the top of the world... well higher than any of us had been except for in a plane. It was about quarter to ten and we had made it! I remember trying to determine if the altitude was affecting me, I didn’t feel like i was starving for oxygen but in retrospect i do recall feeling a little “drunk” for lack of a better term. i remember fine motor skills like zipping up a jacket or putting on gloves seemed to take more concentration than normal. Other than that the 45 minutes we spent on the summit was incredible! The view is un-describable, Mt St Helens, Rainier, Hood, Sisters, the ridge to the east of Rainier which I think is called the Razorback all surround you and all above the clouds.
The biggest bummer of the trip was that the clouds that were covering the summit that day prevented the snow from getting slushy, this made Glissading suicide... If you aren’t familiar, Glissading is sitting on your butt and sliding blissfully at the speed of your choice to the bottom of the mountain. We were forced to walk down a couple thousand feet before we could start Glissading.
The walk back to the truck was so much easier! Slipping sliding and glissading downhill is so much better than 8” steps uphill! All in all The trip was so cool... I’d say if you don’t want to start climbing don’t do it once! I will be doing it again. I would like to climb Adams a few more times then maybe move on to anther mountain.