South Spur

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 46.20280°N / 121.4894°W
Additional Information Route Type: Snow Climb
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk-up
Sign the Climber's Log


Start at the Cold Springs Campground (5,600') and hike up the South Climb Trail #183. This trail is very easy to follow and will take you to the Crescent Glacier where the route gets slightly more interesting. To the west are numerous rock shelters for setting up camp before Lunch Counter, however, most people will continue on by asending the ridge to the west and crossing the glacier east across to "Lunch Counter" at about 9,250' which is at the base of the main part of the South Climb, or Suksdorf Ridge at 9,400. While its easy to do the round-trip in a day, many may want to spend a night at "Lunch Counter" or earlier where there are many walled rock shelters have been built.



Route Description

This route is the most straight-forward on Adams and was regularly climbed by mules early on and by many dogs today. From "Lunch Counter," head north up either the main snow field or Suksdorf Ridge to the west. By July, many steps will already be present on the snow field for easy hiking. Once you reach Piker's Peak at 11,657', aka the false summit, continue north to the true summit at 12,276'.

Through July, the most popular methods of descent are glissading / skiing the south snowfield or skiing the Southwest Chute (connecting back via the "Round-the-Mountain Trail"). The glissade on Mount Adams is almost legendary with 4 or more glissades possible on the descent including the Piker's Peak to Lunch Counter descent of over 2,000 vertical feet! By July, glissade chutes are formed similar to the slides in water parks or bobsled chutes where you can swing your body into the turns. Both the South Snowfield and the Southwest Chute offer intermediate level skiing terrain.

Be sure to time your ascent and descent for optimal ski and glissade snow conditions. Often, you will not be able to get perfect conditions for the run from the summit to Piker's Peak and from there to Lunch Counter. A common trade-off is to leave the summit a bit early when the snow is still on the hard side but to make it to Piker's Peak for a good corn run down to Lunch Counter.



Essential Gear

Although this route is considered non-technical, crampons and and ice axe are recommended year-round. Bring an ice axe or ski pole for glissading. During the winter, skis or snowshoes may be desirable at "Lunch Counter" and above.



Miscellaneous Info


USDA FS Gifford Pinchot NF Route Description

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-4 of 4

millsb40 - Mar 27, 2006 10:54 pm - Voted 2/10

Route Distance

I have found several sources that state the South Spur Route is about 5.7 miles as mentioned in this description. However, I believe this climb is further than that. The trail to the lunch counter where we camped was 5.1 miles according to my GPS. From the lunch counter it was 2.4 miles to the summit (we did do a bit of switch-backing on the snow fields above the lunch counter). Someone preparing to make this hike should plan on 7.5 miles.

Victor151 - Aug 16, 2013 2:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Distance

My GPS said 6.1 miles one way to top from Cold Springs. This probably didn't include a lot of the traversing necessary, so actual distance travelled is greater, as mentioned previously. Also, people refer to the trip from the false summit to the summit as a gradual "saddle." Actually it is a short saddle followed by a steep 1000-foot climb to the summit. This last climb is very tough, as steepness combines with extra altitude. The final climb is as steep as anything on the south route.

Tony Jewell - Mar 10, 2017 1:52 pm - Hasn't voted


I wouldn't say that the Southwest Chute is intermediate terrain. I measured it at 40 degrees and it is about 3000 vertical feet! Awesome classic run in the right conditions!!


seancau - Aug 24, 2017 2:55 am - Hasn't voted

6 miles

Just did this hike, I was 6.009miles (or 9.67km to people from the rest of the world) from Cold Springs to the summit. I used my crampons & ice axe & went straight up Pikers alongside the glissade slides, most people took a route to my right which involved more switchbacking. I doubt any route would be much more than 10k even with switchbacking, 7.5miles would include camping well off the trail at Lunch Counter & getting lost.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4



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