Mount Adams Climb Itinerary
Day Before the Trip
Our trip starts in Seattle with a mandatory gear check at the Alpine Ascents office at 10:00 a.m. to ensure that everyone is fully equipped and prepared for the following two days. Rental gear is fitted and packed at this time. We’ll review the functionality of each piece of gear, packing methodology, wilderness ethics, and Leave No Trace practices. This orientation lasts about 1.5 hours. The drive from the Alpine Ascents office to our meeting location the following day is approximately four hours.
Skills highlighted today:
- Gear functionality & layering systems
- Leave No Trace Principals & wilderness ethics
- Packing methodology
- Route planning
We’ll meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Inn of White Salmon in White Salmon, WA. We’ll then drive to the Cold Springs railhead at 5,600′ and begin our approach. The approach to your camp is 3,650′ of elevation gain and takes four to five hours. Approach conditions vary from year to year and can even change significantly in a week. Some trips we will be able to skin from the trailhead, others we wear trail shoes and carry our skis and boots until we hit consistent snow cover.
Our climb will take us through open forest and into alpine terrain on our way to our camp, which is spectacularly situated at the “Lunch Counter” at 9,250′. From here, climbers can view stunning views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens to the south and the sunset to the west. Once we establish camp, we’ll take time to cover Leave No Trace principles.
A successful ascent and ski descent of a mountain like Mount Adams requires a diverse skill set. Depending on conditions, we may need to ascend the final push to the summit on foot instead of skinning, and all team members must be able to travel safely both in and out of skis/splitboards. To ensure we have these skills down, we will spend this evening learning safe and efficient steep snow and glacier travel skills, including crampon technique, ice axe usage, and self-arrest.
Skills highlighted today:
- Trailhead safety check
- Nutrition, hydration, pressure breathing, and temperature management
- Maximizing efficiency in backcountry uphill travel (kick turns, heel risers, and breaking trail techniques)
- Route finding
- Avalanche hazard recognition
- Camp craft
- Crampon techniques for boots as well as skis/splitboards
- Ice axe usage & self arrest
- Descending techniques for skiing/riding in the backcountry
- Efficient transitions
Summit day! Unlike summer ascents of Mount Adams where we get up pre-dawn to climb, our departure time will vary based on conditions. Warm temperatures overnight will necessitate an early start whereas cold frozen conditions on the upper mountain call for a later departure to get soft snow on the descent. After breakfast, we depart camp on skis and skin up a long snowfield to Piker’s Peak (11,657′) – a deceptive false summit. From here, it’s about another 800′ to the true summit at 12,276 feet. On a clear day, you can see Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Mount St. Helen’s – a veritable who’s who of the Cascade volcanoes. At a moderate pace, the summit climb should take three to four hours.
Once we’ve had our fill of the panoramic views, it’s time to rip skins and enjoy one of the nicest ski runs on any of the northern Cascades volcanoes – over 7,000′ of skiable vertical. A particular treat is a near-perfect 25-30-degree pitch for over 2,500′ from Piker’s Peak to Lunch Counter. In late spring, this stretch often has excellent corn snow – truly a delight. At Lunch Counter we’ll have a quick break for lunch, pack up belongings and continue our ski back down to the trailhead. Skiers can either overnight in White Salmon and take advantage of excellent après ski culinary options or make the drive back to home.
Skills highlighted today
- Our summit attempt allows us to implement and enforce all the skills we learned over the previous 2 days.
- Terrain selection
- Advanced ski / ride techniques
- Group management
It was outstanding in every respect. I really cannot think of anything that could be improved. I think John Hauf was a key strength – he made the whole thing work, but I also think the 1st class approach to accommodations, food, etc. was also important. I did not realize that your approach was different from the others in terms of guide, personal attention, support etc., so that was a pleasant surprise.