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Flatlandclimber

Need help choosing route on Adams

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I am new to the cascades and will be heading there in the spring of 2012 to climb Mt Adams.

 

I purchased a book on Mt Adams by the A Falcon Guide.

 

I don't know which route to climb. I am debating between South Route, North Cleaver, or Mazama Glacier. I don't think I spelled the glacier right.

 

I am from the mid west where there are no mountains, but I climb occassionally and have mountaineering experience with crampons, ice axe, ropes, etc.

 

The south route seems boring, but I don't want to get in over my head on the north cleaver. Is there ever ice and snow covering the rock falls?

 

Help me make this choice please.

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So in the spring you may be looking at many many extra miles of hiking along the road no matter what route you choose. The road usually doesn't melt out to mid June or maybe late July like this year.

 

Based on your question it sounds like the south route is good for your first time out here. Its a lot of snow slogging but you will still find it fun.

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you know accessing the mountain didn't happen until around july 1, this year? And that has a long approach. Just, if you're here truly in the spring of 2012, unless we have a low snow year you're talking 10+ miles of snowy approach.

 

i can't answer the north cleaver. If doing a glacier route--will you have a partner? Otherwise I think the decision is made for you. south or cleaver. cleaver is better with snow but what kind of ice/snow are you looking for on the cleaver? you want some snow so it isn't a total scree slog.

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thanks for the replies guys.

 

I don't want to sound like a total noob. I've gone to the east coast and saw some gnarly shit on Mt washinton in New Hampshire, and climbed up Tuckerman's ravine.

 

I also have experience with ice screws, roping together with other climbers, belaying, and more.

 

They were all under instruction or with more experienced climbers. This will be my first attempt at putting those learned skills to work for myself.

 

I will be with at least 1 partner, if not 2.

 

On the north cleaver, I would feel more comfortable climbing it if the rocks were covered with a decent amount of snow and ice to prevent more rock falls and slides. That's why I'm maybe choosing spring for more winter conditions.

 

Is it covered during that time of the year?

 

Also I'm taking a week for this, so I'd plan on at least 3 nights out and don't mind the haul in.

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one more note, I think it's funny how much our perceptions and experiences have changed since long ago. the pioneers in the himalaya would trek hundreds of miles over rough and difficult terrain before even reaching the start of their treacherous climb.

 

now-a-days we warn weary travelers of a 10 mile approach hike.

 

lol...just sayin...

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there will be snow on most or all of the route through june I am sure, unless we have a low low snow year.

 

true point on the long approach. Thing is back in the day there was no alternative to a long approach. If you adjust your time there is no approach and other volcanoes await, along with more time high on the mountain. 10 miles along a road in snowshoes may get a bit monotonous after the first mile. i'd rather spend an extra day lounging up at a high camp, all things being equal.

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eesh, rainier seems like a different league, but I could be wrong. Plus it seems so hyped up and so over crowded, I don't know if I want to do that right away.

 

I considered it, but didn't know if I should do it without a guide, and I don't have the money to spend on the trip AND a guide.

 

So I digress...if you're suggesting Rainier, maybe the Adams glacier will be within my reach?

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Adams glacier is probably more advanced the emmons or dc on rainier. Have you ever done a long snow approach? You say you have experience with roping up but what about crevasse rescue?

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no crevasse rescue, yes roping up.

 

mazama glacier is right next to south route isn't it? Would that be easier so if the crevasses were very opened up I could always traverse to the south route instead?

 

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What about Mount Baker Coleman-Demming route? Or the Easton glacier on Baker? Both routes require roped glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills, but they are fairly moderate and offer good access during the late spring.

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FLC,

Please understand that with what I am about to say, I’m not trying to come off as an asshole or chestbeat. I’ve been on Mt. Washington in late December during several of its gnarly moments. The only similarity that you will find between your experience there and out here on the volcanoes is the wind and cold. The advice I'm about to impart to you comes from learning ice climbing in Huntington’s and Tuckerman’s Ravines over 25 years ago, climbing in the Cascades for the past 20+ years, and being intimately involved with Mt. Adams specifically through Mountain Rescue for the past 8 years. And with that as a preamble...

 

Everything that RBP and Water has said is true. Spring conditions on Adams will have you skiing and/or slogging for miles and miles of additional effort. It will be intolerably boring. You’ll surely hate it... You should seriously consider pushing your dates back to late June/early July, or early June at the earliest.

 

I would agree with you that Rainier may be too big of a bite to chew as your first volcano right off the bus, unless you’re going to hire a guide. We all do it without guides as they aren’t really necessary for us (I’ve never hired a guide, although I’ve climbed with them as friends), because we locals have the time to wait out shitty weather for the right window. From the sound of it, you won’t have this luxury. Lots of folks have been injured or even killed out here trying to force a climb through a crappy weather window because “we’re only here for a week or so.” Good weather windows for the volcanoes in spring are a crapshoot. You'll improve your chances for better weather the closer you get to the start of summer.

 

I agree with RBP that Adams Glacier is more of a commitment than the Emmons or the DC on Rainier, IMHO. You and your party will definitely want to be dialed in with your crevasse extraction techniques. You will be quite alone on the north side of Adams that early in the season, if you stick to your spring itinerary.

 

And now for some pros and cons of the routes you are considering...

 

South Route

While generally regarded as the most boring of all the Cascade volcano walk-ups, people still get lost, hurt, and killed on this route. Me and my buddies have hauled down all sorts of broken climbers from this route over the years. At other times, you can join in a volleyball game at the Lunch Counter or play Frisbee on the summit. Seriously! This would be my vote for your best chance of success and unbridled fun. It will be the easiest route to access the earliest, whenever that might be (June/July??). The road around to Killen Creek TH for the Adams Glacier, North Ridge, and other north side routes will be weeks behind the road to Cold Springs TH in melting out. The season for the South Route usually begins in very late May (hardier souls) to late June (the rest of us).

 

Mazama Glacier

While the Mazama may be “right next door” to the standard South Route approach, you are overlooking one major topographic feature... from about 7,500 feet to about 9,500 feet on the Mazama, you will be separated from your “bailout” to the South Route by the Devil’s Half Acre. It’s a steep cliff on climber’s left of the Mazama which, as someone new to glacier mountaineering, you would not want to have to climb and cross. The cliff is about 300-400 feet high, is made of shit rock, and effectively barricades you from accessing the South Route until you are at or even slightly above the South Route’s Lunch Counter, the standard camping area for a two-day ascent. So once you commit to the Mazama at Bird Creek Meadows, you’re essentially stuck with it until the Lunch Counter. You’ll have to deal with any crevasses you find where you find them. I would not go in there thinking that “I can always traverse over to the donkey trail.” That wouldn't be prudent...

 

Adams Glacier, Adams Glacier Icefall, and Stormy Monday Couloir

From your own description of your experience level, I would rule all of these routes out for now. The AG will be crevassed, the AG Icefall will be chunky and routefinding a bit of a test, and although the routefinding on SMC is straightforward, it’s in the same league of commitment as the others in this section. By your own accounting, I'd wait a while to get on these routes until after you've gotten more "face time" with our volcanoes.

 

North Ridge

I have never ascended this route, but have used it many times for descents from Adams Glacier, AG Icefall, N. Lyman Glacier, Lava Glacier, and Stormy Monday Couloir routes. I would not wish the ascent of this route upon my worst enemy. It is a hideous, tortuous, insufferable screefest of epic proportions, best avoided at all costs.

However, if you’re into mountain goats (for whatever reason... :hump: ), they abound on this route. :)

 

So with all of that, why all the jonesing for Adams? If you’re set on an early spring arrival, why not consider Mt. Hood? Lots of plusses here...

 

The road to Timberline Lodge and the climber’s registration room is plowed year-round. You can sleep in the parking lot prior to departure to be fully rested. The approach hike is, like, 10 meters from the lot. :laf: Hood is a full 1,000 feet lower than Adams, and there is no crevasse danger whatsoever on the standard south side slog. Sure, sure, there’s the ‘schrund, but that’s easily crossed in early season or skirted on either side if it’s open and too wide to jump. You should take a serious look at Hood if your schedule can't be modified.

 

Yes, it’s likely going to be more crowded than Adams, to be sure, but if you’ve got mid-week available to you for your climb, it’ll seem like you’re the only ones on the mountain by comparison to a weekend. You can even camp at Illumination Saddle if you’re set on camping at altitude.

 

Good luck and climb safe.

 

PS: Don’t glissade with your crampons on, and don’t let anybody else in your party do it either.

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What about Mount Baker Coleman-Demming route? Or the Easton glacier on Baker? Both routes require roped glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills, but they are fairly moderate and offer good access during the late spring.

 

+1 to baker and what sobo says

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thanks Sobo and all for the excellent advice.

 

I will head to Adams slightly later than planned for, and go in late June. Since the South Route is more straight forward, I might make a plan to do a two'fer and do Hood as well.

 

I need to do some research on Hood and it's location relative to Adams.

 

You mentioned, Sobo, that the south side of hood is the standard, safest way of climbing it with no crevasses, so I will look into that more.

 

thanks again!!!

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Hood and Adams are practically on top of each other, relatively speaking. If the roads are clear, you should be able to get from Timberline to the ranger station in Trout Lake in about 1.5 hours. Throw in some time to acquire your permit at the ranger station, get a condish report, and drive to the Cold Springs TH and the whole affair should easily take you less than 3 hours. Here's a little story for your entertainment and consideration...

 

Before I moved out here from the East Coast 20+ years ago, I took a trip one summer between semesters to visit a former GF from college. She had graduated already and was living in Portland then. My plan was to come out for a visit, "renew old acquaintances", and climb Hood, my first time above 10,000 feet, together.

 

She got overcome by the sulfur fumes in the Devil's Kitchen just below the Hogsback, so I left her to descend by herself while I went for the summit. I was successful, and was the only person up there on a bright, clear, Saturday morning in June (it was 1986 - you can be sure that won't happen anymore...)

FYI, this was just a couple weeks or so after the tradegy with the students and teachers from the Oregon Episcopal School.

 

Anyway, while on top, I looked to the north and saw Adams, although I didn't know what it was at the time. Upon descending, I caught up with Carol, and asked her what mountain it was that I had seen. She replied that it's Adams, and it's fairly close. I said that we should go climb it, too - today! So we wolfed down our packed lunch in the Timberline day lodge, motored her little VW Beetle over to the South Route TH, and embarked upon a climb of Adams that same afternoon.

 

We camped at the Lunch Counter that evening (I brought too damned much shit to move very fast - hell, I didn't know anything about climbing volcanoes then), summitted the next morning, got lost on the descent below the LC, but recovered and were back down to her car by noon on Sunday. So the point of all this is, if you're up for it, you can do a two'fer of Hood and Adams in less than a day and a half, car-to-car, drive, car-to-car, if you're schedule-challenged and the weather cooperates (another reason to delay your climb until at least June). Shit, you could probably do it even faster than my fat lazy ol' ass did it back then. :laf:

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