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iClimb

Mt Adams

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Hi everyone,

 

I am new to Northern Cascades, but a fairly experienced hiker/mountaineer in New England. My current playground is the White Mountains. I have climbed Mt Washington in New Hampshire twice in Feb this month, and while it is only 6300 feet, it has some great alpine climbing and literally some of the worst weather on Earth which can rival the Himalayas.

 

My next step is to graduate to something over 10,000 feet.

 

After researching Mt Adams, Mt Baker, and Mt Hood, I have come to the conclusion that Adams will be the safest of the 3 to start with, since my climbing style is alpine, meaning I choose not to use guides, but instead do my research first to prepare for the climb.

 

It is my understanding that Adams' South Side ascent has little to no risk of crevasses, and that it is essentially a 6700 foot snow slog on reasonable slopes of 30 degrees or less.

 

Are there any objective dangers you all could tell me about, tips you could give me, or anything else? My plan is to climb this in late May or early June, probably next year because I have to wait for my frequent flyer points to add up for my free flight to Washington state (I'm from Maine).

 

thanks in advance, I'm excited to get lots of good information

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I would recommend waiting longer. The roads will be snowed in below 5000 ft that early in the year adding many miles to the approach.

The main hazards of the south side are weather and navigation. quite a few people get lost every year in whiteouts on the descent, but if you know compass navigation you should be fine.

 

Be prepared for winter weather. I climbed that route in mid August and it still snowed on me. Do you have any experience with an ice ax and crampons? They can really add to your safety if you have the proper skills.

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All you need to know in a technical sense is self arrest, how to use crampons, and how to glissade. Like Jeffrey said, wait for the road to melt out. You should be safe if you plan your trip for early/mid July. If its sunny you will want LOTS of sunscreen.

 

There should be no crevasse danger unless you get way off route and I personally wouldn't bring a helmet for rockfall.

Edited by RaisedByPikas

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Why is your next step to graduate to "something over 10,000 feet?" Mt. Adams is really boring, and it sounds like you already know how to walk uphill on snow. If I was going to fly all the way to Washington from Maine, Mt. Adams would NOT be my climb of choice, ESPECIALLY if I wanted to learn "alpine climbing."

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Adams was my first mountain. We went 2nd week in July and the road to the trail head had just opened a few days earlier. We used crampons and ice axe. Was a great place to practice basic skills. It was also the BEST glissading ever! Remember: don't ever wear crampons when glissading!! Have fun!

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thanks everyone.

 

Jeffrey - So it sounds like maybe late June would be a better time? Yes I have lots of experience with crampons, ice axe, some rope work, some technical vertical climbing in a mix of snow, ice, and rock, and know how to self arrest. I also have extensive experience in weather extremes. Out west you may not be very knowledgeable on New Hampshire's Mt Washington, but it literally rivals the Himalayas for weather - in the valley's it can be between 30 and 50 degrees, and above tree line it can be below 0. I climbed it twice this February, and the first time I was subjected to -20*F without the windchill, and with 80-100 mph SUSTAINED winds, we dropped below -50*F. Temps that night reached the lowest in years at -88*F.

 

Rob - boring is a subjective word. Thanks for the "advice", but I tend to be more conservative in my learning curve. What may be boring for you may be thrilling to me, and my first concern is safety. I'd rather learn on a safe, boring mountain before moving on to a higher level of difficulty, than try to learn on a more dangerous mountain and die leaving behind the life I love. There is plenty of VERY technical climbing here in the White Mountains, and if that's what I was looking for I would only need to drive 2 hours to find it.

 

RaisedbyPikas - you WOULDN'T bring a helmet? Is that because it's not necessary at all, or because you wouldn't feel that there is enough risk to warrant them? Any risk at all and I'd likely bring one - I'm young and strong and don't mind a few extra ounces.

 

 

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The biggest risk of hitting your head on anything is probably from tripping. I don't recall anywhere where rockfall was a danger and there weren't any areas on the route that had fresh rocks on the snow. There wasn't anywhere that I even thought a helmet would be nice. Both times I went was early or mid season, early/late July.

 

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"advice." Hmm.

 

I'm not advocating you do a "more dangerous" mountain, I'm advocating you pick an objective that will teach you something. It sounds like Mt. Adams is well within your abilities. It's an awful long trip and I'm just trying to save you some disappointment, but if you want to sound like an ungrateful, know-it-all prick to someone bothering to take time to answer your question, be my guest.

 

 

What do you think you're going to learn on Mt. Adams that you couldn't learn in the White Mountains? What interested you about Adams, other than the altitude? If you're going to come ALL THE WAY out here, there are better options.

 

But it sounds like you already have it all figured out. Cheers!

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well let's see rob - the other mountains I had in mind are more heavily glaciated and have crevasse danger. I have not taken a crevasse rescue course, and since I want to do this on my own instead of hiring a guide service to pull me up, I decided to go with a mountain that was already within my skill set.

 

Yes part of it is the altitude. Altitude plays a big part in mountain climbing, and since the highest I've got access to is 6300', doubling that height will be a pretty big deal in terms of endurance, and possibly experiencing AMS which I've never had the pleasure of encountering. The other options available may be great for you, but if they were great for me I would have asked questions about those instead. I am an educated individual who did my research first, which is why I came here with specific questions. Had I wanted suggestions for which climb to do based on your preferences, my post would have included that.

 

Here's a bit of info for you - there's nothing I could learn elsewhere on earth that I couldn't learn in the white mountains - world class rock climbing, ice climbing, mixed alpine mountaineering, extreme weather, and some of the best hiking in the country.

 

I thought the newbies forum was free of flaming? Don't get defensive just because I didn't salivate over your wisdom. If you notice, other people politely gave me the info I asked for, rather than trying to impose their "knowledge" on me.

 

I never put you on a pedestal. You put yourself on one.

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I have seen almost entirely climber/hiker related rockfall between lunch counter and pikers peak ONLY late season when there is a mix of snow patches and rock. And at that it was minimal. The likelihood of getting hit in the torso or extremities from this seemed much, much, higher than a head hit where a helmet would protect.

 

 

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P.S.

 

My mountaineering "teacher" where I took my first courses and gained much of the information which has led to me safely climbing and hiking in the Whites, was Mark Synnott Mountain Guides.

 

I suggest you look him up, along with his achievements, and maybe watch the video of his Borneo big wall climb. Your better option rock scrambling mountains might take a page out of his book.

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ok thanks pika, that's pretty reasonable. Sorry one more - what's the bathroom situation like up there.

 

I know a lot of bigger mountains can get pretty gross above tree line with feces - should I bring supplies to pack that out?

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I think you can also pick up blue bags for free at the ranger station. They are pretty nice and include a paper "target" along with kitty litter in a brown paper bag. Otherwise bring supplies to pack it out above the tree line.

 

Rob does have a point. If you can take a 1 day course to get taught crevasse rescue and basic glacier travel you will probably be ok for Baker or even Rainier as long as the weather is good. But if you are going solo then Adams (or Hood) is probably the best choice.

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If you are looking for alpine climbs with more altitude, but no crevasses, I would suggest looking at Colorado 14ers.

 

If you do Mt. Adams south side, it would be a shame not to take skis if you are a skier. Once the road to Cold Springs Campground is open you can do the round trip in one day if you ski down the same way you go up. 6,500 feet of vertical is nice payback for a long slog in the snow. Otherwise I think this will be an underwhelming experience for you.

Edited by pcg

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you get a sub-par quality 'bluebag' when you get your permit at the ranger station. Comes with kitty litter in a paper bag even. Personally think the bluebags on rainier are much better. Bring an extra grocery store produce bag or two to double wrap.

 

Doing it in a day is quite reasonable if the road is drivable to its terminus, though snow conditions could make it a long day.

 

Taking any of the emotion out of the back-and-forth with Rob, Adams has more glacier area and volume than Hood. Hood's south-side route (While a bit of a mill) and Cooper spur (June a bit late for my personal tastes on that) both offer a proverbial-glacier free (arguable around hogsback) route up a mountain that would likely provide more challenge than Adams while sticking within your abilities.

 

For reference I am originally from Michigan and the Whites were my first introduction to actually going up any mountains of decent size. Adams is truly beautiful and would be enjoyable, but in regards to your skills, would offer little apart from practice. Skill wise, chance are it would be a bit boring. My acrophobic fiance has made it up with hiking poles and microspikes. Yes, you will likely notice you get winded easier from pikers peak to the summit, but you're not coming out here to determine if you'll get slammed by AMS symptoms in the 3-5 hours you're above 10k, right?

 

Don't get me wrong, the climb will be beautiful, you can probably use your ice ax and crampons if you go for the alpine start from lunch counter, and if you wait until things soften up around early afternoon you'll get a bitchin glissade for 2000ft (bring some tear-up pants/cheapo rain pants for that). I took what rob said as a constructive challenge as from the skills you presented it sounds like your capabilities and motivational desire place you beyond the southside climb there. Take it as you'd like.

 

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thanks all - for the purpose of this climb I will be sticking with Adams. Hood was my runner up and I understand that it along with Baker and some of the rockies will provide more of a challenge, but I will be soloing this go around, therefore want to be confident in my abilities and skills for my first attempt at a 10K + mountain.

 

I can't stress enough that I am conservative in my climbing. I am 26 years young, have the financial flexibility to do more climbs in the future, and have time on my side - I can come back in future years, increasing my challenge, but for my first solo'd 12,000er, I'd like it to be safe.

 

 

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I'd rather learn on a safe, boring mountain before moving on to a higher level of difficulty, than try to learn on a more dangerous mountain and die leaving behind the life I love. There is plenty of VERY technical climbing here in the White Mountains, and if that's what I was looking for I would only need to drive 2 hours to find it.

 

there's nothing I could learn elsewhere on earth that I couldn't learn in the white mountains - world class rock climbing, ice climbing, mixed alpine mountaineering, extreme weather, and some of the best hiking in the country.

 

Are there any objective dangers you all could tell me about, tips you could give me, or anything else? My plan is to climb this in late May or early June, probably next year because I have to wait for my frequent flyer points to add up for my free flight to Washington state (I'm from Maine).

 

thanks in advance, I'm excited to get lots of good information

 

I am not trying to flame, I promise. You asked for "anything else" and "lots of good information". Maybe give us a little more than the arbitrary number of a mountain's height (as evidenced at 6300 mt wash can pack it's own punch) What are you trying to learn out here? How you respond to altitude? If you have the fortitude to do 6000ft~ of vertical in 1 or 2 days? How it is to start at the end of a forest service road instead of crawford or pinkham notch? What a glacier looks like from a distance? I realize you have set yourself for Adams 'for the purpose of this climb' and that is well and all, but you've said you can learn anything you need to learn (well I guess not in-situ glacier work, but you're not doing that here anyways) in your backyard and you want to be confident in your skills and abilities. Are you not now? What is the purpose of this climb? What are you coming out here to learn? And probably in 2012 which means you'll be practicing more in the Whites/Katahdin for the next year+. So ultimately it is to see what it is like to be on a volcano? On a mountain that doesn't have huts, observatory, and a road etc up and around it? To test your meddle with altitude?

 

Thats my final bit, same as rob. Promise not trying to attack, trying to see clarity in what you want to get out of it. Being safe is plenty smart. Nobody is suggesting a mountain or route where you cross a glacier solo. If you're planning this far out and planning on keeping up with the pursuit in the whites, you may want to have a backup plan in the wings. Does the Boott Spur plus a few miles and a few thousand feet under sunny skies what you want? A late June or early July day on Adams will likely feel quite tame compared to your recent forays in the presidentials.

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Young Luke - you have made the right choice, may the force be with you! I'm sure that you will enjoy the climb, as you say from an alpine aspect - it's all there! (and better than the walk-up on Hood, which can nail you). From your abilities and experience it will probably be a cake walk as the above have stated, but it's not one you'll get hurt on. It's obvious, but just be sure to fly into Portland rather than Seattle.

:yoda:

p.s. Always take axe and ponds to the "mountains". Check the latest road conditions before going, to save your trip.

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My dog Sam climbed Mt Adams and he didn't whimper and didn't even have booties or a ice ax. Adams is a good hike but I wouldn't call it a climb by the south spur route, no I would not. If you are coming out here to climb something, Adams is going to dissapoint you. Borrrrring.

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I thought the newbies forum was free of flaming?

Welcome to CC.com, where everybody (well most) flames everybody (and puts down their objectives) until someone gets hurt, then the are all like: be careful out there people the mountains are dangerous!

 

My advice: Spend the night and enjoy the views.

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iclimb,

 

on reflection I'd like to apologize if I sounded like an ass. not my intention. If you want to climb Mt. Adams because you want to climb Mt. Adams, there is no need to be attacked for that/defend that, especially since you sound like you have the experience to do it successfully.

 

it is incredibly beautiful and will be a very different environmental experience than going up washington. When you do consider something additional out here, there is the living, breathing, flaming, (and helpful) body of information available on the forums.

 

matt

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no need to apologize matt - im new here and expected to be treated as such.

 

I understand that there are plenty of greater challenges, but despite the skills I have acquired so far, I plan on honing them as much as possible before moving on to bigger things - for a couple of reasons.

 

Firstly, I would rather not use a guide service ever if possible. Secondly, I respect the mountains, their beauty, and their danger - I feel no need to rush myself into a mountain that may or may not be above my capabilities, just to get hurt or worse.

 

I will slowly move up the rung of challenge, and the whole way will do my best to stay close to my comfort zone.

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