Almost on a whim, Geoff, Brandon and I decided to road-trip down to southern Washington on Friday to tackle this 12,000+ foot volcano. It was a bit of a crazy trip... Here was our time-frame:
1) Crossed the border in Sumas at 6pm Friday
2) Arrived at the trailhead 3:30am Sat morning. All three of us napped in Brandon's Suzuki Swift for a couple hours, completely bagged.
3) Started hiking at 6am Sat morn
4) Summitted by noon
5) Back to the car by 4pm
6) Crossed back into Canada at 1am Sat night/Sun morning.
With gas and meals/munchies we each did this trip in under 50 bucks.
Summitting Mt Adams was not what I expected. I knew it was not a technical climb (via the southern main route), but I did not expect it to be so easy, nor for the mountain to be swarming with hikers. We were reminded of old pics from the Chillcoot Trail, Yukon, during the gold-rush days, with people lined in single-file, slowly trudging up the snow slopes. It was very crowded on the summit, and on the hike down it's no exaggeration to say we passed over 100 people heading up to make base-camp: the young, the old, the beautiful, the obese. I made note of a few bizarre things we saw which I didn't catch on film:
* people with crampons attached to running shoes, slopping through soft afternoon snow.
* a dude playing guitar on the summit
* a nice group from Tri-Cities who told us, "This is our first hike!"
* A group of three Mexican-Americans wearing the fanciest gear ever, but who were having a very hard time. The one fella's face was so white with sun-screen I swear he'd have survived a nuclear blast.
* people wearing shorts and jeans on the summit. (I was bundled up, and still chilly...)
* a dog on the sub-summit.
* a father with two young sons, all with their own ice-axes-- very cool.
So in a sense we were disappointed with the crowds and the ease of the hike. We were sort of hoping for more of a mountaineering experience. However, after telling the father and sons that there were almost 50 people on the summit, the father said something that changed my perspective: "Well that's 50 people that love the mountain." To me that captured the essence of why we were all there. Whether one had crampons unnecessarily attached to tennis sneakers or $400 mountaineering boots, or one's face was so painted up with sun-screen he looked like a Mexican-mime, or whether one was burning up in a tanktop with no hat, woefully unprepared, we were all there because we love being in the mountains, challenging ourselves to take another step towards the summit. In the end, Geoff, Brandon and I decided it was a great little trip, if somewhat of a whirlwind. Here's a few pics:
Mt St Helens at about 7am.
Mt hood appears to be floating off in the distance.
Nothing but a rubble heap...
Mt hood from the sub-summit.
Looking down from the sub-summit
Reinier from summit.
Myself, Geoff, and Brandon. Brandon brought the flag-- was pretty fun watching people wonder where the hell we were from.
Bumslide from Heaven.... A 1500+ foot bum slide drops from the sub-summit. I was behind Geoff, but the bloke in front of him stopped abruptly for no apparent reason, causing a traffic jam. Geoff almost ate my boots for lunch, and I whacked myself in the head with my pole while arresting.
So if you're looking to bag a big mountain, and don't mind a strenuous but easy slog, check out Mt. Adams. Bring your mule! Bring your tuba! Heck, bring your Uncle Muchacha from Whoknowswhere! Just don't bring others down....