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B Deleted_Beck

[TR] Mount Adams - Mazama Glacier Headwall 8/19/2012

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Trip: Mount Adams - Mazama Glacier Headwall

 

Date: 8/19/2012

 

Trip Report:

I did the Mazama Glacier Headwall over two days, from 8/18-8/19.

 

The "climber's trail" from Bird Rd TH starts out a very defined, runneled, cairned trail, but the higher you go, the less so... slowly becoming more of a pick-your-own-path thing till around 6,700ish feet, and eventually becoming nothing more than the occasional boot print in the dirt/snow... So be prepared for route-finding, and more importantly, make sure you look back periodically to aid in finding the trail again on descent. Two pieces of beta that'll be useful- go above the first rock band, under the second.

 

Goats!

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Camp Sunrise is pretty awesome- nice big flat, clean piece of land with 15 or so solid dugouts, glacier spring water running through camp (seasonal!), and is better protected from the wind than you might expect. I had some minor t-storm activity and could hear wind screaming overhead a few times, but the spot, and my dugout wall, kept it down to a minor ruffle of my tent.

 

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The route runs straight up the glacier in front of you, 40 degrees at the top. Watch for crevasses- beta pics I've seen show the glacier more crevassy than not, so you know it gets bad sometimes. I skirted all (4 or 5 big ones) to the right.

 

The slope mellows out for a few hundred yards as you veer right around the moraine and toward a steep field (the headwall?). Slope jumps from 20 degrees to 45, so it looks huge and super steep as you approach, but it's nothing. At the top, you can go left or right around a moraine- I went right, for views of the Klickitat icefall and such.

 

100_3983.JPG

 

Once above, you'll see the glacier narrow into a thin strip running up the outside edge of the Suksdorf Ridge. Coming up through this, you get to chose which variation you do... and this is where some arguing I've seen comes from on slope- if you exit the route to the left, you join the South Spur route and climb the south side of Piker's Peak. If you go right, you climb a steep face of snow and top out on the east edge of Piker's Peak... 60-75 degrees for about 40'. I see some TRs where people have claimed these slope angles and been ridiculed by others who claim to have climbed the route and experienced nothing worse than 40-45 the whole way... well, that's 'cause they went left.

 

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Going right:

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I don't know which is THE route. I went right, and topped out on a huge crevasse that I had to climb down into and find an exit to the left, which was easy enough, if on super shitty snow... if the snow had been better, I could have just scrambled across and climbed straight up the other side.

 

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And then you come down the backside of Piker's Peak with the line of hikers coming up South Spur, chose a path up the summit hump, and the geographical high point is the big mound to the east (everyone likes to converge for pics and celebration over the shack on the west end- that's not the high point).

 

Descend the climbing route (minus the wall thing at the top, which is easily avoided on descent).

 

 

Gear Notes:

I took two tools, expecting the route to be much more aggressive, for some reason. A basic ax is all that's required until you get to the upper headwall thing- if you aim to climb it, I'd suggest having an extra tool on the pack. Otherwise, the whole thing can be done with nothing more than trekking poles and crampons.

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Awesome trip report Ben! :rocken: I took off early Monday morning to climb the route as well after seeing your post in the mazama glacier thread saying the route was still in--thanks for the beta! I had a great first trip up Adams, what a cool place. I'll get my TR up shortly....

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