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[TR] Mt Adams - Mazama Glacier route 6/15/2007

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Trip: Mt Adams - Mazama Glacier route


Date: 6/15/2007


Trip Report:

I took my family up to Mt Adams on June 15-16th to do the Mazama glacier route. The group consisted of myself, Teresa (my girlfriend, brother Kirt, brother-in-law Colin, sister Alisha and father Dad.


The original plan was to head up the south spur to round-the-mountain trail and cut over to the Mazama glacier route. However, while waiting for the rest of the party to arrive, Teresa and I did some exploring. We took the Bird Creek road to see where it would lead, and found out it is gated about 3 miles from the Bird Creek Meadows trail head This seemed like a shorter and more direct way to go, so we decided on this approach.


On Friday, June 15th, we awoke to rain and a socked in mountain. We drove to the ranger station for an updated forecast. The forecast called for clouds and showers throughout the weekend. Taking our chances, we decided to at least go check out the trail and drove up Bird Creek road to the locked gate at 4800'. There is plenty of room off the road to park 2-3 cars.


We then hiked the road in the rain for 3 miles to the Bird Creek Meadows trail head, and headed towards the climber's trail along the ridge over looking hellroaring valley. The trail is mostly snow-covered, but by keeping to the ridge crest we stayed on route. It is about a mile from the trail head to treeline.


Once out of tree-line we were on snow almost the entire way. The clouds blew over and we had blue skies overhead as we traversed across the snowfields above hellroaring valley, and worked our way across the right side of lower Mazama glacier to Sunrise camp at 8300'. With so much snow and warm weather, there were streams everywhere and plenty of cold, clear water. The camp was melted out with about 6 rock-ringed camp sites and a nice stream flowing off the Mazama glacier. I could see a few open crevasses on the glacier and scoped out a route. It was a perfect cold and clear evening with not a cloud in the sky.


We got a 0330 alpine start under the stars, roped up and headed up the steep right side of the glacier We stepped across a few small snow bridges on perfect hard snow. At about 9400' Teresa was gassed and we left her on a rock ridge with a sleeping bag. The sun was just rising and she would have sun all day until we got back down. We finished crossing the gentler upper half of the glacier, seeing numerous cracks in the snow, but only a couple of crevasses had opened up. We hit the ridge joining the south spur route at about 10,000', and Dad was gassed. We left him at the top of the glacier protected from the wind by rocky ridge.


Alisha, Colin, Kirt and myself crossed the ridge and connected with the south spur route about a 1000 feet above lunch counter. South Spur was extremely windy and cold. It was about 0600 and hadn't warmed beyond about 30 degrees yet. About a dozen other climbers were already heading up the south spur. The snowfields were iced over and we trudged up to Pikers Peak at 11,600' and could see the true summit 600 feet higher and about 3/4 of a mile away.


Here Alisha and I began to feel the effects of altitude, but forced ourselves to the top. Kirt and Colin didn't have any problems. On top, it was very windy and cold and i was feeling quit sick. I stood on top long enough for a single picture, then went down. The more I descended, the better I felt. Clouds had also moved in, and appeared to fill the glacier route we left Dad and Teresa in. We were back down to the ridge at 10,00 feet around 1000 and the snow was getting soft and clouds were moving in and out, going from a mile visibility to about 100 feet, then clear again.


We gathered up Dad and I led the roped party in the fog towards Teresa, following wands we planted on the way up. The wands were invaluable as at one point all I could see was white, with the outline of the wand 200 feet in front of me. The snow was very soft at this point and I was worried about the snow bridges.


We reached one of the bridges, and I tested it with my ice axe, which sunk in right up to my hand. We scrambled on the rocky ridge a bit to avoid the several softening bridges, then shot straight down to Sunrise camp, getting there about 1400 as the clouds left and bathed us in sunlight once again. After breaking camp, we headed out, only to have the clouds move in and catch us in a windy, cloud snowstorm for about 45 minutes, before blowing over. Other than the sideways blowing snow, the hike out was uneventful and we reach the car around 1800.


All in all, it was a fun trip on a moderate glacier. The glacier had opened up quite a bit in the one day we were there, and I would suggest getting on this route in the next month while the upper snow bridges are still strong. We never say anyone else on this route, and had it to ourselves, compared to the estimated 40 people on the south spur.


Alisha took a ton of pictures, and is sending me the CD in the mail. I will post them when I get the CD.


Gear Notes:

Ice axe, rope and crampons needed.


Approach Notes:

The Bird Creek Meadows road is supposed to open by July 4th. Until then, it is an extra 6 miles roundtrip of roadwalking, but still worthwhile. There is snow from the trailhead to the summit, so routefinding skills are a must. The approach to camp is 6.5 miles and 3500 feet of gain. We left the cars at 1000 and reached camp at 1600.

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Nice job! Wow, only 40 people on South Spur? That's a ghost town for that route!

I did this climb last summer, but bushwacked our way from Cold Springs on where we 'thought' the Around-the-mountain trail most likely was....I like your way better.


Yeah, a lot of people underestimate how many crevasses lurk on Mazama, but believe me, if you've ever been up there in late summer, it's a wake up call....this is the best time of year on Mazama Glacier......would like to see some pics. I'm heading up North Ridge on Sunday, weather permitting......

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Needtoclimb, Nice TR. We're hoping to get up this route in the next few weeks. Your TR is very helpful. Thanks for posting it.



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