Hey Dad, Happy Fathers Day
At the summit of Mt Adams a slender hand comes out of its mitten and I hear “Happy Fathers day, Dad!” It is my 16 year old son, Tanner, who likes winter mountaineering as much as I do. He is on his High School snowboard team, so where there is snow, that’s where he is likely to be.
Dad, I am so excited, lets go!
So the snowboard is coming, right? Ten extra pounds on his pack and of course, he is willing to endure that. You don’t know how many times we got bonked on the head by his snowboard on the way up. It did make a fine cook table at the Lunch Counter.
Our crew includes two other dads, two of my dearest friends.
Trailhead for the #183 South Spur
The day started off at the Cold Springs campground, where our first glimpse of fun was a very neat little grey fox scavenging around a campsite. We snapped a couple shots of him and we hit the #183 trailhead, then we were on our way.
Chewin up the #183
We slogged up to the Lunch Counter (Suksdorf Ridge) where we busted out our tents and make camp. Before we got the water boiling, we noticed a goat across the snowfield on some rock. A mountain goat on Adams?
I thought goats didn’t like crowds. After Tanner ate 1.5 mountain house meals, we went to explore. My buddy Matt got within about 40 feet of this guy and we got some great pictures. A great way to end day one with the sun going down over the LC, just an amazing place to be.
Sun setting at the Lunch Counter (Suksdorf Ridge)
Sure is a lot of snoring going on at 7:00 am. Its Fathers day—where’s my breakfast in bed? Oh right, I am in a tent @9200 ft and only one of my children is with me and he is not getting up to make me breakfast. So I made him Backpacker Pantry Biscuits and Gravy.
Time to get everybody up and get ready for our summit push. We got no sleep on Friday, so we all agreed the night before to sleep in a little. At 8:00am we push off for Piker’s Peak. 30 degree snow climb? Huh. I didn’t take the time to measure, but it was steeper than 30 deg.
Cowsface on day one on the South Spur
It is not dangerous, but steep. We got up to Piker’s, took a long rest and started the trek to the summit.
400 feet below the summit of Mt Adams
On the summit somebody left the freezer door open as the winds kicked up and the temperature dropped way down. We put our glissade pants on here (I don’t know why we didn’t wait until Piker’s) and trekked back to Piker’s Peak where my son picked up his cached snowboard, then everyone took off for the 2200ft fun time. I haven’t glissaded in years and am real rusty, not to mention I would be a like a freight train out of control and might hurt someone if I got too much speed going.
Very happy group of summiteers, "splattski" style summit photo
So I invented a new technique. I call it Gliss-SLEDING. That’s where you plow down the mountain much like a glissade but end up with a 300lb snow ball between your knees and your butt crack. Refreshing!
Hey, what are those fast moving clouds and wind coming from? Hurry, pack up camp and our packs and let’s get out of here. Packed up in 30 minutes and we started glissading on our fannies, feet, plunge stepping, and sprinting for the Cold Springs Campground. It took us 50 minutes with a couple of five-minute breaks. We arrived just in time for the ice, hail and snow to start beating us in the face and vroom—we were outta there.
Did I mention I forgot to call my wife this day? I had cell service for most of it and just couldn’t find the right time. So back home, she was planning funerals, but wanted me alive so she could kill me again (for dying or not calling).
Despite the population on Mt Adams and the 400 mile approach from Boise Idaho, this was one of the greatest experiences I have had in many years. I have no regrets (well—besides not calling my wife or having her on the mountain with me). I was with my two dearest friends and my oldest son who was able to greet me with a “Happy Fathers Day” on the summit of Mt Adams.
Dan, Matt, Steve and Tanner