Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
uww

Mt Adams for first AT trip

Recommended Posts

A group of us are planning to do the Mt. Adams South Spur route this summer, likely in July. Nobody on the trip has any AT experience, but we are all strong skiers/snowboarders- can handle resort type bowls/double blacks/sidecountry etc. Is it a dumb move to rent AT gear for this as a first trip with zero touring experience? Southwest Chutes looks like a great objective, and if we decide it's too much we can always go down the way we came. I'm not worried at all about routefinding and will be ready for a whiteout, but I figure we won't be alone on a weekend in July. I know the conditions are not likely to be the best- but figure it is more fun than walking down. 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As usual it depends.  If the south side is super firm then skinning up to Pikers can be challenging, let alone without practice with skinning technique.  I'd say you'd be much better served with some practice before.  Many AT boots/bindings can be difficult to figure out without experience with them, plus the potential issues of poorly maintained rental gear and boots that do not fit well.  

All in all I don't think I'd recommend it.  Adams in a day is pretty big day for a lot of people(myself included) and if you guys are planning on breaking it up with a night at the Lunch Counter then you're committed to carrying up and over to the SW chutes.  Skiing with a large overnight pack is also a lot different than at the resort with no pack or a tiny day pack.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll need ski crampons at a minimum and July is likely to be sun-cupped and challenging going up and down.  Spring conditions are often tricky for skinning, let alone your first time.  It really depends on how the spring shapes up.  Some years Adams could still be an OK ski, but others it might be terrible.

Typically, once July comes, I put the sliding gear away.   I actually think walking in July is more fun and not much slower, if at all (since you're traveling lighter on the way up).  If you can move the trip to late May or early June then it is a different story. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As JasonG mentions above  ... July is typically too late for descent skiing on Adams  ... go early in the season  ... watch for road reports on NF-500 and how close you can get to Cold Springs Campground, consider skiing the last mile or two of the road.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a great idea for a first trip, considering the caveats above... July is too late... best snow is when the road is open to at least Morrison Creek CG, typically between mid-May and mid-June. (somewhat earlier now consistently with the burn below Cold Springs)  I've skiied from Piker's several times in July and August for Turns-All-Year, but there was no corn snow and it was heavily sun-cupped, Type 2 fun. Still better than sitting on the couch!!  In something like 7-8 trips I've found the skiing between the Lunch Counter and the bottom of the Crescent "Glacier" to be the best (whether you go down Crescent or over by the lava dome). 

Regarding experience, I taught myself how to ski-tour. My second "real" tour was Adams, 2 days after skiing from the crater on Mt. Hood (after summiting). You've got to learn somehow, somewhere, and Adams is a fantastic training ground, just steer clear of the north side crevasses while you're there. 

Bottom line: 1. No one will recognize you as a Jerry/Gaper cause you'll blend in with the 100s of them. 2. Go earlier than July if you can! 

Pro tip: Get a steak burrito to go at Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon. You're welcome!! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, caverpilot said:

Pro tip: Get a steak burrito to go at Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon. You're welcome!! 

Yeah this place has great beer and food!

I've skied Adams a few times and the problem I've encountered is that the road isn't clear enough to make it to the trailhead while the snow is still good. It's a lot of work for terrible turns. I personally don't think it's worth it unless you have a sled to get in earlier in the season.

To answer your question yeah it really is a dumb idea if you have no experience for a number of reasons. I'm not sure where there TR is on here, but some guy got lost from his group in a whiteout on the summit, went down the SW Chute by mistake, fell and ended up breaking both his legs, and had to drag himself out on the PCT. South Spur is an "easy" route technically, I've literally seen someone in Tevas going up. But it's still a big mountain and people do get hurt and lost. You are much better off starting off with a smaller objective, heading up St. Helens or to Muir, and doing so in the spring when the snow is actually good.

That said I know that area hasn't gotten a ton of snow this year, so the road could potentially be open to the TH much earlier then normal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As everyone has said July is the wrong time of year. My suggestion is pick a nice day and join the masses and skin up from Paradise to Camp Muir on Rainer. That will give everyone some fun. 

 

Edited by ScaredSilly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First week of July is the latest you want to ski it. Typically the glissading crew takes over management of the mountain right around the 4th and the south side routes soon turn into a pock marked mixture of boot tracks and bathtub sized sun cups.

Skills honed at the resort will get you down the chutes no problem but that's only a few minutes of your day.Has anyone in your party done any volcano touring? There can be a lot of suffering done on Adams if you're not ready for it. 

Set your party up for success and try something smaller, earlier in the season and give yourselves plenty of time to futz around with gear and take pictures. If everyone enjoys that,  rinse and repeat on something bigger. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The OP said he wasn't worried about routefinding or whiteouts - not sure why anyone thinks Muir is "better;" (>5K elevation gain, same quality snow, just as many people) you have just as much of a chance of getting lost/falling in a crevasse there as you do on Adams. 

As far as post-July skiing on Adams, yes, it's terrible, but it's STILL BETTER than NOT SKIING. I've skied from the summit in August, meandering through bathtub-sized suncups and avoiding the nearly 3-feet-deep butt TRENCHES formed by the glissade crews. Still had a great time. And? I didn't have to battle Rando-bros! Sure, I had to hike with my skis all the way to the bottom of Crescent, but I've never had a bad day on my sticks. A lot of posters on here are part of the Turns-All-Year crew, and I naysay anyone who naysays skiing in the summer. :)

A bluebird July day could arguably be considered a better time to ski Adams than a potentially bad-weather day in May, especially if you're not familiar with the gear. (It's hard to work your bindings if your hands are frozen bricks!) Pro tip: The later you go, the more likely you'll need crampons / ice ax / whippets up high. 

Anyway, my two cents! We all know you're going to do what you want, regardless of what we say here. Come back and post about your experience once you do! 

Bonus? There  won't be any lack of rental equipment available! 

 

Edited by caverpilot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No reason Adams can't be skied enjoyably in early July. I skied it last weekend of June last year and it was still primo - carried less than a mile, skinned to the summit, SW chutes skied great. It likely would have lasted at least 2-3 more weeks in good conditions, longer with more hiking/more suncupped skiing.

I feel like I say this all the time to people starting out in mountaineering, but I believe Adams (and volcano/backcountry skiing in general) deserves a little more respect than it often gets. I don't know what your mountaineering background is - maybe you've got years of experience. If so, feel free to ignore my advice. If not, I think you should be at least a little concerned about routefinding - it's not terribly complicated, but simple mistakes can have big consequences on a big mountain. You should definitely still be knowledgeable and concerned about the potential for wet avalanches. They can still happen in summer - especially on steep terrain like the SW chutes. And you should be aware that the hazards of climbing and skiing a big mountain aren't the same as those of skiing in a resort, no matter how challenging the resort terrain may be. A week before I skied it last year it was an ice skating rink and several people took big, high speed slides with serious injuries. I don't say any of this to be discouraging - it's an amazing ski trip, absolutely one of my favorites, and you should totally have a go at it. Just give the trip the respect it deserves.

Also - no one else has really said it, but I know my feet/legs would absolutely hate me if I tried doing a 7k foot, 10 mile day as my first day ever, in rental boots no less. Maybe I'm a pansy, but a day like that still wears out my hip flexors and threatens blisters even in well-fitting, well broken in boots after I've put in 30+ days and 60k feet in a season. Skinning can either be a really efficient means of travel, or it can be extra exhausting, depending on your technique. I'd take some other folks advice and do a shorter, easier day a little earlier in the season to figure out the mechanics of things, then go out for a fun day on Adams in late June/early July.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never done this in July, but something no one has mentioned... I would plan on getting to Piker's Peak by noon. If it's too hard and icy to ski the SW chutes then sit down in the sun, have lunch, and wait for the corn to ripen. When your window arrives then drop in, knowing that it will be softer down below. This keeps you away from late afternoon sun when a wet avalanche is possible, as others have mentioned.  If you are in good shape (not just aerobically but also used to hiking uphill a lot) you can manage this as a fun day trip from Cold Springs campground with an early start. I prefer to take comfy lightweight boots/crampons for the steep slog up and load my AT skis/boots on my back. It's a real workout.

Edit: An altimeter is very useful for knowing when to start cutting back towards the trail you came up. I think you'll be sorry if you ski all the way straight down to the Round the Mountain trail that late in the year.  This is NOT a trip to do if there is a chance of a whiteout, despite navigation skills, as the terrain cutting back over to the south side is fraught with obstacles.

Edited by pcg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×