Mount Adams, Elevation 12,276ft

North Face of the Northwest Ridge, 40+ degrees

Spring 2000

2 days

Ben, Troy, Tygh

The North Face of Mount Adams from camp. The North Ridge ascent route is in green and our ski descent is in red. Notice the variation from Spring 99. The Adams Glacier is in the center and the NFNWR is to the right (that's what we skied). This photo was taken in Spring 98.


I said that I wouldn't do it again but I lied. I guess the first time didn't scare me enough (See Spring 99).

This was the second of two trips that I made to the north side of Adams, Spring 00. The first attempt to ski the NFNWR was called off because I got sick at camp. That was the weekend Josh, Jason and I tried to climb Rainier and Adams in two days. Josh and I made it to around 13,500ft on the Emmons Glacier (Rainier) before turning back due to high winds and poor visibility. We descended and met Troy in Packwood on our way to the north side of Adams. We made it to camp that evening. Josh and I hadn't slept in over 36 hours and had climbed over 12,000ft. Let's just say we were tired. I slept pretty well that night but I awoke with a sore throat. I wanted to go down and Troy, Josh and Jason weren't about to ski the NFNWR by themselves so we all ended up bailing.

A few weeks later Troy, Tygh and I decided to try again. Tygh drove us down from Seattle (long) and but we made it to the trailhead in less than 3 hours (fast). We were surprised to find several cars including a ranger vehicle. Tygh wanted to pay for a climbing permit but we convinced him not to. I think that it's a good system for those who are willing to pay but it defeats my purpose for going to the mountains. Tygh didn't have a parking pass either so we would be doing hard time if they did catch us. Yea right.

We hiked all the way to camp in tennis shoes. There wasn't much snow for this time of year. Staying on the trail helped as we made it to camp in a little over 2 hours. This was Tygh's first time up here so he was pretty stoked. The weather was perfect and the mountain was spectacular.


This photo was actually taken on our first attempt of Spring 00 but it shows the kind of weather that we had to deal with -- excellent.


We had plenty of time to spare so we decided to take a hike towards the glacier and check out the moraine. We left our skis behind because it felt so good just to run around in tennis shoes, t-shirt and shorts. The moraine is just behind the ridge that begins from the right skyline in the previous photo. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the glacier itself. We were surprised to find solid ice beneath the rocks. Crevasses were all around but we felt safe relatively safe because we could see them. Some of them had pools of water. We added a few rocks to the mix. We spent about two hours seeing who could make the biggest splash.

We cooked dinner back and camp and discussed the plan for the following day. We went to bed at sunset because we knew we'd be up before sunrise. Tygh managed to find one of the lumpiest spots to bivy so he didn't sleep that well. I couldn't stop thinking about the last time Charlie and I were there. I could only hope that things went as well.


Tygh on top of the lump (foreground). Troy enjoying the last rays of sun (center).


We got an early start the next morning. The weather was beautiful but it was chilly to begin. The sun finally hit us near the ridge where we stopped to put on sunscreen.

We decided to try something new this trip -- tennis shoes all the way to the top. The snow was firm so we didn't worry about our feet getting wet. It takes a little practice on the steep snow but you'd be surprised by how well they grip.


Sun at last and not a cloud in the sky.


We were making good time. Tennis shoes made all the difference. Our only true rest was about half way up the ridge where we stopped to check out the face. There wasn't as much snow as the previous year when Charlie and I skied it (see Spring 99) but it still looked doable. Besides, the snow couldn't get much firmer.


Halfway up the ridge. Our only rest.


The NFNWR. Our ski descent is in red.


We were on the summit plateau in no time. We were all pretty stoked to be ahead of schedule but the snow did not look very promising. There were a lot of suncups on the flats which made for difficult walking and treacherous skiing.


Troy and Tygh on the summit plateau. Tennis shoes at 12,000ft. The West Peak is above Troy and Mount Saint Helens is in the background.


It took us just over 4 hours to reach the top from camp. The snow hadn't even begun to soften so we ended up hanging out for awhile. We got tired of watching the ants crawl up the South Spur so we decided to ski over to the West Peak and wait there instead. The only thing that separated us was a half-mile of one to two foot suncups resembling a cornfield (not quite as deep). This was among the worst snow that I had ever skied.

A bit of hiking led us to the top of the West Peak. I wandered around looking for a good photo while we waited for the snow to soften. I couldn't help but notice Mount Hood peaking through the gap.


Tygh and Troy on top of the West Peak. Mount Hood is in the background.