Dumped On Mt. Adams
This was to be my 2nd summit attempt - after a successful Mt. Hood climb.
It was yet another mountain climbing class by Portland Parks dept and led by guide Greg Ironsides.
It's been a couple of years since Mt. Hood, but I did all the normal, conditioning and all. We started at the trailhead at Bird Meadows and climbed up to camp Sunrise about the 8,000 ft level.
There was the guide, me, two young ladies and a young man. All of us had done summit climbs before so there was little teaching done by our guide.
Our kick-off time was 2 AM. I was up and promptly ready, then just sat around for a an hour waiting for my mates to sack up. We started out over an hour late.
It was a beautiful climb in the darkness. Of course, I was slightly less than prefectly prepared. Not enough water, and I was missing my headlamp. I had a headlamp, but it was lost somewhere around my house... so I just carried a small LED flashlight in my hand. It seems to do just fine.
Our guide pushed a pretty hard pace, but I did my best, didn't complain. We climbed about 2,000 feet at this pace, until I reached the point my legs were turning to rubber. I KNEW the guide had to slow down, because I had so little strength in my legs. A simple mis-step would mean a serious fall for me because I had to little reserve to recover. So I spoke up, "Greg, either slow down, or I'm going to fall!"
He turned around - likely sizing me up. Much like he's dealt with the likes of my type before. On the next stop, he encourged me to drink lots of water. Wordlessly he resumed the lead and a slightly slower pace.
What can I say? I'm 56 and hiking with 3 other climbers half my age. Our guide led the team to a draw off to the side of the glacier and then found a nice hollow out of the breeze. And there, to my surprised - told me to stay put! He gave me his sleeping bag and told me to rest.
His pace had been quite brutal... 2,100 ft only 2 1/2 hours. (8,400ft to 10,400ft).
With tears in my eyes, I listened to what he had to say. He told me in no uncertain words - to stay put - no matter what - until they returned. he also gave me instructions where to go - IF - they didn't return. So... there I was... forlornly... watching my climbings climb away.
It was a real relief to fall asleep and recoup my energy. Yet a couple of hours later, I awoke and was bored. I hiked around a bit, but stayed close to where I was supposed to be. I watched climbers on the south route to the west. Finally a hour later, I spotted what I saw my teamates descending above me. I even saw my guide trip and fall. He slid quite a ways down the slope before stopping.
Once we rejoined together... we all roped up and headed down. Even on the descend, I could not believe the fast pace these people kept up. Anyway, I was happy again, happy to be with my group and happy to recount the scenic adventure. Happy for the memories. Happy that I tried.
I remember I carried a Superman shirt, that I intended to wear once I got to the top. But since I didn't make it, I put it aside for my next climb.
After writing the trip report for my companions... one of the ladies wrote back via e-mail: "Doug says that while you didn't make it, he could tell that you were not defeated."
I would attempt Mt. Adams twice more before I finally succeeded on a solo climb. Being able to set my own pace was critical to my success. Also I learned a valuable lession - to drink more water. Once you become dehydrated... recover is long and slow... too slow to finish the climb.
Overall, it did seem like an expensive climb - only to fail. From then on my motto was - "Any climb is a good climb - summit or no summit".
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