Mt. Adams, South Spur, July 2009

Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Best way to describe the South Spur roue on Mt. Adams – a long, grueling grind.  I thought it would be a fun, easy (technically easy) way to gain 12,000+ feet of elevation.  I forgot about how boring mindlessly walking is.  Crevasses, placing pickets, and route finding really spice up a climb. The South Spur route on Mt. Adams is a non-technical climb that constitutes basically hiking up to the snow field, snow slogging it up the snowfield and then enjoying a 12,281ft summit with amazing views of Rainier, Helens, Hood and many other volcanoes, followed by an exhilarating and slightly terrifying 2,000 foot glissade in a massive glissade shoot and then an exhausting hike out to the cars.  It’s just a long freakin’ way from TH to summit.  And we were doing is sans skis and sans a lot of snow.

I decided to arrive earlier than my climbing partners so I could

So little snow! Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

get up super earlier and hike in before it go to hot.  Our weekend promised to be a scorcher and it ended up delivering.  My grand plans to camp at the trailhead were thrawted by the non-stop stream of people coming and going.  That place is busier than a bar on Saturday day.  At 3am, I ate a little food, packed up the remainder of my gear and began hiking.  Even at the earlier hours of the morning the trail was packed and the going was slow due to my heavy pack (I was carrying all my gear including stove, all of my tent, sleeping bag, and the kitchen sink).  By 10am it was already very hot and when I arrived at the Lunch Counter (9,000 ft) at 11am I was very happy to have done the hike in the morning instead of the heat of the day.

I set up a little home away from home – tent, stove, gear – inside one of the stone circles.  The Lunch Counter is a rock island amidst a sea of snow, it’s dotted with dozens of stone circles your tent in.  Sometimes there’s running water at the very back of the Lunch Counter, I just melted snow with my stove.

A lone sentinel. Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

At about 2pm my climbing partners, Mary and Spencer, arrived and we relaxed watching an incredible sunset over Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.  At 3pm we started climbing.  The snow is so hard at the wee hours of the morning that we needed our crampons on.  We climbed the 2,000 feet up to the false summit, which is as high as the summit of Mt. Hood.  Sadly, this was not completely uneventful for a climber and his partner thought it would be wise to glissade down the frozen glissade chute at 6am (everything was ice so there was no mistaking that this was a very bad idea).  They didn’t make it far down the chute before being catapulting out of it.  There was blood and injuries and damages caused by ice axes.  Luckily a party behind us were trained in something involving medicine and helped these two injured climbers.

Once on the false summit we headed across the flat plateau then

Mt. St. Helens. Photo taken from Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

up this steep sun-cupped section to the summit at 12,281 feet.  We had a gorgeous sunny day – able to see Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood, in addition to thousands of other peak.  After chilling at the old mining shack for a while we began the long descent.

The glissade shoot had soften up enough to make the glisssade safe and it turned out to be one wild ride.  (I love knocking out 2,000 feet of elevation in 5 minutes).  Then we headed back to the Lunch Counter, broke down camp and slogged it out in the unbearable heat.

Overall, Mt. Adams, South Spur, was an non-technical way to gain 12,000+ feet, but it’s a grueling slog with not much to see.  Next time Mr. Mt. Adams and I dance I have my eyes set on it being the North Side (which is glaciated) or the Mazama Glacier (which is also glaciated).

Heading up toward to the Lunch Counter. Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Mt. Adams. South Spur climb. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Me at in my little home way from home in the mountains. Mt. Adams. Lunch Counter, 9,000 feet.

Showing off my beloved Asolo AFS 8000 at 9,000 feet. These plastics were incredibly comfortable even though the route ended up being mostly dirt and rocks up to the Lunch Counter. Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

View from my tent (Mt. St. Helens). Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Sunrise as we climbed. Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Mt. Hood. Photo from Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Climb up to the false summit. Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

On the false summit, looking at the summit. Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Summit shot. Mt. Adams.

Mt. Rainier. Summit of Mt. Adams. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Spencer, Mary and I on top of the mining shack. Summit Mt. Adams.

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~ by Genevieve Hathaway on March 24, 2010.

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