Mount Adams – 12,276 ft
Second tallest mountain in Washington
Eric and Katie
October 22, 2016
We left Seattle mid day on Friday for the long drive south to Mount Adams, and after a small wrong turn eventually reached the trailhead around 8pm. The snow started a half mile before the trailhead, and was just deep enough to still drive through while scraping the undercarriage of the car.
We slept in the car that night, and got up at 4am to start the hike. There were a few other vehicles in the lot, but overall not too crowded. We hiked up the snowy trail by headlamp, and as we climbed a ridge and broke out above treeline the sun started coming out. We were the first ones up the mountain, and had to find the route on our own.
As the snow turned icy higher up we changed to crampons. We took a short break at the lunch counter at 9,400ft, before beginning the long, steep climb up to Pikers Peak. At Pikers Peak the summit looked really close, though still an 800 ft climb. We climbed past huge 4ft-long rime ice feathers on the ground, before reaching the summit at 12:15pm, well ahead of schedule.
The wooden shack on the summit was completely encased in rime ice and snow, so just looked like a white blob. We had great views of seven other volcanoes: Baker, Glacier, Rainier, St Helens, Hood, Jefferson, and Three Sisters in Oregon.
After a few minutes standing in the cold wind we headed back down. Unfortunately the snow was too icy to glissade, so the had to walk. Descending from Pikers Peak we met a few groups of skiers trudging up. They must have purposefully slept in to wait for the warmest time of day to ski down. I bet they were still skiing on rime ice and icy snow, though.
We reached the car at 4:45pm for a 12 hour round trip. It appeared there was enough time to drive all the way back to Seattle that night. Katie’s i-phone showed the fastest route as going on forest service roads through the national forest west of Mt Adams, so we decided to give that a try. Unfortunately 60 miles into the drive we encountered a big log across the road painted orange. I walked out to investigate, and the road was completely washed away on the other side of the log!
This was the only road through, so we turned around and ended up camping in the woods back near the trailhead. We made it back to Seattle the next morning via the conventional I5 route. Don’t trust Apple maps for navigating!