After our great descent down Mt. St. Helens on Saturday, we drove over to neighboring volcano Mt. Adams, found a great spot to car camp, and slept in for 12 hours. The next day was mostly spent relaxing and fueling up on food next to the campfire, then at 4pm we set off with minimal camping gear in order to position ourselves better for the big 8,000 vertical foot ascent of Adams the next day.
By setting up a basecamp near treeline, we were able to knock off about 5 miles and 2,000 vertical feet from the approach (which was longer than usual due to the unplowed snowpacked road). Here’s a shot of Mt. Adams in the moonlight, 6,000 feet higher than the tent.
Though the mountain looks very steep from afar, we were actually able to skin up most of the way up the Suksdorf Ridge on our skis. We started the hike at 5am under perfect bluebird skies, but by the time we got up towards the top, some high clouds started moving in, adding a bit of anxiety and urgency to our hike.
The grueling 6,000 foot hike really started wearing us down towards the top. Due to icier snow up top, we switched to crampons for the final 1,000 feet and slogged up past a couple false summits until we were finally at the summit! The summit towered above all the clouds and we sat up there and enjoyed the panoramic vista, with Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood off in the distances, both looming above the clouds.
Scott McCurdy skis down Mt. Adams. The hard and bumpy ice-snow below the summit soon gave way to softer, smoother snow, and we were able to carve progressively bigger and smoother turns.
We descended into the clouds for a stretch, which cut down on our visibility but actually provided some really fun and interesting ski conditions, as the snow was smooth and there was enough light to see our immediate surroundings. This was some of the best “braille” riding I’ve ever done, carving mellow cruisy turns down the enormous face, through a dreamlike fog.
After 3,000 feet skiing out through the cloud down the main face of the Suksdorf ridge, we then left the normal route and dropped in to an amazing variation down the Crescent Glacier, which provided another 3,000 feet of perfectly smooth, soft spring corn down a series of huge mellow bowls.
And the line keeps going, and going, and going. By this point we were practically ecstatic, blown away by the seemingly endless descent and perfect snow. Wide open high speed carves were the ticket here.
All smiles at the bottom!
Unfortunately, after our Mt. Adams descent, a big Pacific storm was rolling in, and the weather forecast looked horrible for the whole next week, so we decided to cancel our Mt. Shasta plans and hightail it back towards Colorado. Although we didn’t get to ski all our goals, the two mindblowing descents we’ve scored over the last few days have convinced me to make the northwest volcano tour an annual spring tradition from now on.