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[TR] Mt Adams - Mazama Glacier Headwall 8/20/2012


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Trip: Mt Adams - Mazama Glacier Headwall


Date: 8/20/2012


Trip Report:

I have been wanting to climb Mt. Adams for a while now, but didn't want to do the south spur route. I have a really messed up ankle that has kept me from doing anything since my North Sister trip in early July, but it has been starting to feel just good enough to do another trip.


I had been looking into the Mazama glacier recently, and after seeing Ben B. post a heads up that the route was still in, I packed my gear up and drove to the Bird Creek Meadows TH on Monday the 20th. Hiked up the climber's trail to the Hellroaring Viewpoint, where I met a few groups of hikers enjoying the view as well.


Me at the Hellroaring Viewpoint:



I started up the faint trail from the viewpoint that quickly faded into oblivion. I knew that Sunrise camp was at the base of the Mazama glacier, but not much else about how to get there. After climbing up and over a steep scree moraine I ended up at a beautiful iceberg lake.


Iceberg Lake:



From here I traveled cross country across boulder and snow fields and eventually found the Sunrise camp. What an awesome basecamp. Flat, soft sand, fresh clear glacial water, and many nice boulder windbreaks built up to camp in. I found the nicest one and set up camp.


Sunrise Camp:




While chilling out and watching the mountain, I looked over to see 5 mountain goats passing by about 75 yards away. Cool!


Mountain Goats!



I ate some freeze dried spaghetti for dinner, then went to sleep. The crux of the climb came shortly after my alarm went off. My sleeping bag was warm and toasty, the wind outside was howling and freezing, my ankle was feeling crappy. I started to think about how I should just go back to sleep and not screw up my ankle any more. After all, it was pretty awesome just coming to Sunrise and camping. I layed back down, but damnit, I knew I would regret it and kick myself forever if I didn't at least get my ass up and make an attempt to climb after hauling all my gear up there! I forced myself up, ate a nutritious breakfast of strawberry pop tarts and twix, drank a liter, and started up toward the glacier in the dark at about 5:20 am.


Climbing Mazama glacier at first light, Ben B.'s tracks?




There was a cold wind that grew colder and colder as I climbed higher. It was very good as it kept the snow nice and hard for good climbing. I climbed up the far right side and passed all the crevasses on the right. After the initial 40 degree section, the glacier eased off in angle and was relatively flat. I paused to drink some water before starting up the next 45 degree section.


Hood and Jefferson in morning pastel colors:



Self Portrait:



Approaching next steeper section:



Heading up:



Nearing the thin strip section of glacier:



Upper Mazama glacier and Klickitat Icefall:



By now the wind was very cold, I was wearing all of my clothing, and my hands were frozen to the bone with midweight gloves on. Luckily this kept the snow nice and firm for the short but steep ~70 degree headwall pitch. I headed right for the steep headwall instead of going left on gentle slopes. I came up to the lip of a beautiful but large crevasse, and headed farther right to climb the headwall. I'm pretty sure I climbed up in the same spot as Ben cause I saw a solo set of tracks heading up.


Looking into the belly of the beast:



Climbing the headwall pitch, sketchy taking a photo here!



Looking up and left from top of headwall:



Looking right from top of headwall:



From here I decided the best option was to go immediately to the left and climb down into a crevasse, then traverse left through it until I could come out on Piker's Peak and meet up with the South Spur route.


Climbing into crevasse to traverse left:



Looking back after crevasse traverse:



I popped out on Piker's peak and saw a lone climber there who was surprised to see me. His name was Brian from North Carolina and he was back in his home state on a climbing trip. This was his last climb before his flight home. We headed off to climb the last portion of the mountain together.


On Piker's Peak looking towards real summit:



Looking south while climbing the final bit to the top:



Me on top of Mt Adams!



After taking pics around the shack on the west end, we headed over to the east to tag the actual high point, then quickly headed down. I was going to downclimb the Mazama glacier, but Brian had brought along an extra trash compactor bag and asked if I wanted to glissade the south spur with him. I have heard a lot about the famous Mt Adams glissade chutes, and I couldn't resist! What a good decision, not only was it infinitely more fun than downclimbing, it was very fast, and we were down at the lunch counter in no time. The glissade chute at the very beginning was 4 ft deep, I felt like a bobsled and was hauling ass! Fun as hell!


Brian in between glissades wearing his trash compactor diaper. I told him I wouldn't take any pics of him wearing it. I lied. :lmao:



With raw and frozen asses, we parted ways just above the lunch counter, and I began the leftward traverse toward the Mazama glacier. After crossing a never ending hellacious lava boulder field, I popped out by the glacier. Unfortunately I descended too far. Note for anybody wanting to do this in the future: traverse over to Mazama glacier between 9500-10000 ft.


Popping out on a snow shelf:



Traversed too low below ice cliff, must climb back up above it!



Back on Mazama glacier, looking back toward Hood:



Sunrise camp from above:



After traversing to the far east end of the glacier, I was able to foot glissade all the way down to Sunrise, what a blast!



I chilled at camp for a couple hours, drank water, dried my socks, then packed up and started back to the car. On the way out I was surprised to look up while concentrating on boulder hopping to see a group of goats 25 yards away!


Goats up close:



Cute baby goat face :)



More goats!!



I had a really great time on this trip, a very beautiful place and a fun route! Thanks for the beta Ben!


Gear Notes:

Used trekking poles,crampons, helmet for most of the route to Pikers peak. Used 2 ice tools for headwall portion only. Trash compactor bag for glissading south spur to lunch counter!


Approach Notes:

Bird Creek TH to Sunrise Camp in approach shoes

Edited by BrandonU
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That's the same dugout I used... It had the highest wall, and I built it up even higher. Sunrise is rad.. a destination in it's own.


Good job! It's a really scenic route, totally worth it. Long, big, steep, and even the approach is a treat all by itself- that's rare.


You got way more goats than me... they all must have been out for the weekend, when I was up there.

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When I got to Sunrise I dropped my gear and scouted out all of the possible dugouts, that was the best one by far with a nice high wall that blocked the wind nicely, thanks for making it higher lol! I couldn't get over how great Sunrise was while I was relaxing and watching the mountain...


The approach was definitely fun and extremely scenic, and not knowing exactly how to get there was part of the fun ;) I was hoping to see at least one goat, and I was very surprised to see so many, that made the trip for me--cool as hell. The route itself was also great, so cool being on a scenic glacier like that. When you put it all together, it just rocks :rocken:

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Great trip report ~ thanks for sharing. Enjoyed the pictures too...though it seems they never quite do justice - especially portraying how steep that climb actually is.


Glad you decided to wake up and get after it - I'd have thought the exact same thing (knowing I'd kick myself later if I didn't make an attempt). Way to go!



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The difference between the 'regular' and 'headwall' route is only a small section of the route, otherwise they are mostly the same. The 'normal' route veers left on milder terrain to meet up at the false summit, while the 'headwall' version heads right to tackle a short but steep section to the false summit.


This pic was originally posted by CraigA. 'Regular' route in blue, 'Headwall' variation in red:



This is my pic from the upper glacier, showing the approximate route I took (red) and the regular mazama glacier route in blue:



denalijacob, thats too bad about the impassable conditions on the glacier. Sounds like a crazy trip though with a forest fire evac!! :o Bet you have a cool story and pics.

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