Mt. Adams (South Spur) - July 2000
My second attempt at climbing Mt. Shasta.
FeedbackBy Preston Hunt, 18 July 2000

I used to have my pictures hosted at Zing, but they went out of business. I'll have the pictures back up once I get my new photo album software written.

7/15 - Saturday, 9:00am. Leisurely departure from Portland. Climbing crew consisted of me, Brian Montalto, and Judson Cole. First stop was the Mt. Adams ranger station, where we purchased climber's permits for $15 each. Met a guy outside the ranger station passing out literature on why you should never, ever buy a Northwest Adventure Pass (the new fee pilot system started this year in OR/WA, ostensibly for the good of the forests), as it actually promulgates the "Disneyfication" of our national forests. Two excellent web sites from the literature include and, the latter of which has a placard you can print out and stick in your windshield to avoid getting a ticket for not having the pass (something along the lines of you're there for religious reasons, so you don't have to pay).

11:00am. Left ranger station and proceeded to drive up the incredibly bad and poorly maintained road to the trailhead. We were all thrilled that our cumulative $45 in "climbing fees" was obviously being put to such good use :-( Arrived at trailhead around 12:00ish and found tons of cars (each of which has also paid $15 per person to drive down this wonderful road).

12:25pm, 5620 ft. Departed from trailhead. Paucity of snow made travel quite easy. Beautiful weather, mild temperatures, and abundant wildflowers made the hike up to the snowline memorable. Took a 20 minute lunch break at 6670 ft. and then proceeded until we caught up with a group of about 15 people at the snowline. Motored right up the side of a gulley, up and over a cornice, and onto some talus, where we regained the trail and proceeded to hike up the spine to the Lunch Counter. Along the way, we passed our campsite from our trip earlier in May. (In May, the climb to 8000 ft. took us 8 hours due to fresh powder and unplowed roads; on this climb, it took only 3 hours! What a difference a month or two makes in mountaineering!)

4:00pm, 9100 ft. "Broke" camp, by which I mean we plopped our tent down in the center of the most perfect camp site I have ever seen. The ground was perfectly level, devoid of snow, soft and springy, and free of large or pointy rocks. Countless travelers had constructed an excellent 3 ft. high wind screen entirely out of stones. The snow melt generated a small stream right next to our campsite, which was the source of our water for the evening and the next day. The place we camped was a little bit off the beaten path (far to the left side of the mountain) and was recommended by a man who was heading down as we were heading up. He gave excellent advice, as the views from the camp were outstanding (more to come on this).

After pitching camp we decided to lay our thermarests and enjoy a quick nap in the warm sunlight. Normally while mountaineering, we pull into camp with barely enough time to eat before the sun's rays wane away to nothing, so this was a rare treat. We napped, snacked, enjoyed the gentle mountain breeze, and beheld the panoramic views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and the myriad mountain ranges in between. After napping and watching some monkey pitch his 4-season mountaineering tent, bust out his shovel, and proceed to spend the next hour preparing his campsite on the snow (oblivious to the fact that dozens of easy sites just like ours were ubiquitous), we replenished our water supplies, ate dinner, and got ready for bed.

At dusk, the views only got better as we were treated to an incredible sunset and an alpenglow explosion on every glaciated peak in site. I thought things couldn't get any prettier until I turned around to head to the tent, and took in the full moon, risen and extremely bright in the mountain air, framed perfectly by Adams' shadow cast against the sky on one side, and the delicate sunset hues on the other. After witnessing this, I convinced myself that now I couldn't possibly see anything prettier, so I hit the sack (approx. 9:15pm).

7/16 - Sunday, 5:30am. Alarm went off, woke up, and languidly got ready (e.g., put in contacts, apply sunscreen, eat breakfast, wait for sun to warm up the air a little before leaving the safe confines of the tent). My thermometer read 38 degrees F inside the tent, and it had obviously been pretty cold outside overnight as the snow outside was nice and crunchy. Put on my crampons and took out my ice axe right away, shouldered a considerably lighter pack (20-25 lbs. now versus 40-45 lbs. on the way up yesterday) and left camp at 6:27am.

7:15ish, ~9800 ft. Stopped at the base of the "second infinite snowfield" (so christened by Montalto), which coincidentally happened to be where we finally hit sunlight. Up until now, we had been climbing in the shadows, which was a little chilly. I ditched everything except my polypro shirt, donned a pair of sunglasses, and prepped myself for the long slug ahead to the false summit.

7:40 - 7:52am, 10610 ft. Last break before the final punch to the false summit. Hoovered down 2 powerbars and several handfuls of gummy bears, and caught my breath. Making really good time, we passed several groups of people who had left before us. I felt really strong, easily able to sustain a pace of 25-30 feet per minute (1500-1800 ft/hr) without burning out my lungs or my legs (I was using a modified rest step, varying between 5 and 11 steps between rests to regulate my speed and not climb too fast or slow. I also wiggled my toes at the end of each set of steps to keep my feet warm.)

8:33 - 8:42am, 11,600 ft. False summit. Quite a few people resting here before taking on the final ordeal to the summit. Hardest part was over now, and we were feeling strong, so we didn't linger for long, hoping to get ahead of some of the dilly dalliers.

9:25am, 12200 ft. Summit! My first time successfully reaching the top of Adams. I got a huge surge of energy for the last 200-300 feet and clocked in at 45 ft/min for the final part of the climb. Upon gaining the peak, I was immediately rewarded with a view of Rainier (looking extremely big) to the north. The summit of Adams is huge, so there was plenty of room, even though there were 20-30 people up there. The weather was exceedingly nice and there was almost no wind, so we shed our packs, grabbed some food, and meandered around, exploring the summit and hanging out.

10:52am, 12200 ft. Descent starts. Because we spent so long at the summit, the sun had finally softened the snow sufficiently to make an incredible glissade chute. This was some of the best glissading I have ever done. Innumerable freeze/thaw cycles and the lack of any new snowfall meant that several excellent (and long!) "luge" chutes had formed to help speed our descent. I was able to get going fast enough to catch air several times when going over bumps.

11:25am, 9640ft. Incredible glissading comes to and end. We had dropped 2560 ft. in about 30 minutes! It would have been faster, but I had to stop several times because my butt was tingling from too much sliding across the snow!

12:08pm 9100 ft. Arrived at camp, packed up, refilled water, quick snack, and got ready to head out. Right before leaving, saw one of the most amazing natural phenoma, second only to a "moon rainbow" I saw last year down in Bend. This time, an effervescent rainbow formed right before our eyes on one of the little puffy clouds in the sky. The rainbow started out as indigo/violet only, but gradually morphed to encompass the entire color spectrum. Words and pictures can't do this justice, but check out the pictures anyway.

2:56pm 5750 ft. Arrived back at the car and headed home.

Trip summary: Gorgeous weather and views, great snow conditions, felt super strong, easily climbed 20-25 ft/min on average. Total elevation gain approx. 6500 ft. in 6.5 hours, with quite a few breaks in there. I may head back before the snow melts too much to try a one-day summit and try to break the 5-hour barrier.

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