August 2nd, 2008After hearing that the fire restrictions were being lifted on Aug 1st, 2008 my friend, Sean, and I decided to hike up Mt. Adams. After doing some research right here on SummitPost we decided to do the South Spur route. We figured we would get up early on Saturday and day hike the route. Due to pure laziness we didn't get on the road until 0510. We hit the ranger station to get the volcano pass and continued on up to Cold Springs Camp Ground. Sean apparently thought I was driving too fast on the one lane dirt road but we made it unscathed. After parking we set off on the trail. Well, it turned out we were on the wrong trail and I had to use the GPS to get us back on the right track. After that minor set back we were moving pretty good. I think we covered the first 2.5 miles in about a hour. The trail was well marked and as soon the real elevation climbing began we were guided by rock piles with 4x4's sticking out of the top.
We continued up the volcanic rock which was steep but easy. There were some tents right at 8000 ft and we saw a group of about 6 ahead of us on the trail. At this point we were feeling good and encouraged to see some other people on the trail because we started to feel as though we started WAY too late. We hit the glacier zone at around 1030 and over took the group we saw earlier. I put on my crampons and got out the ice axe. Sean had decided to go on this hike even though he didn't have any gear. Needless to say, he didn't have crampons.(or boots, ice axe, gloves, etc.) I gave him my trekking poles so he could have some balance on the snow.
This is where the real uphill hiking begins. It's basically snow and ice with holes melted in for over three thousand feet. The angle varied between 15 and 35 degrees. Even on the steep parts a fall wouldn't have been too dangerous because of how the snow was melted with huge diviots in it.
We were passing people all the way up. I couldn't believe how big some of the bags were I saw people carrying up toward the summit. I would imagine a lot more people would have kept going up if they weren't carrying their kitchen sinks. Anyway, we wound up with three guys that were climbing about the same speed. Sean was having a really tough time without crampons and his legs were locking up. He sat down during a rest and said he was going to stop and wait for me on the way back. I gave him some advil and he drank some water and was suddenly good to go again. Another few hundred feet and we hit 11k and I started feeling like crap. A little nausea and a headache. I took some advil and pushed on. By the time we hit Piker's Peak both of us felt great. Advil is apparently a wonder drug. Ha. The wind was really blowing so we geared up and moved on.
We passed over some dirt and crossed a EXTREMELY annoying ice field with the final summit hill looming over us. I believe this ice area was one of the worst walking enviroments known to man. Well, maybe not that bad but it sucked. Every step was a real risk of a broken ankle or a nasty fall. Remember, Sean had regular shoes on. Ok, once that nightmare was behind us we started up the final hill. It's about 800 feet up through loose rock and soup mud. It was tough but we made it with two of our climbing buddies at 1357. We took some pics and looked around for the register which I found in a metal box on the south side of the hut.
Sean didn't have any gear and only low-top hiking shoes and a ten dollar jacket. It's pretty impressive that he made it up to the summit. As he was passing people that were "geared out" heading back down because it was too tough I saw that hiking/climbing is about doing what you want to do. Gear helps and is necessary sometimes but it's more about what you want to accomplish. Anyway, great job to Sean who was one of about 10 people to make it up that day. I'm guessing about 30-40 tried.
By this time we were both cold. Our thermometers read in the low thirties and there was about 30 kts wind. Time to go. After getting down the summit hill and crossing the devils joke (ice field) we hit Pikers Peak. This is where the fun began. We glissaded down from Pikers to the bottom of the glacier area at 100 meters at a time. I think we dropped about 3-4k feet in an hour. It was awesome.
[img:427860:aligncenter:medium:The last glissade of the day.]
When the fun was over it was another couple of miles of walking which we covered in about 45 minutes. The last half mile lasted forever. We arrived at the car at 1730 and prepared for our drive back to Hood River, OR. It was a successful day. We achieved the summit and stayed safe. The next day Sean was at REI buying gear for future trips!