Mount Adams – South Spur

We planned this hike as part of our training for Rainier. Having already climbed St Helens and Baker, Adams was the next WA volcano in the bag list. We were a party of three, and decided to do the hike in two days at the end of June.

The original plan was to camp at the Cold Springs trailhead on Friday and summit on Sunday, but the weather forecast made us shift our long weekend to Sat-Mon.

Mt Adams Ranger Station

We got to the Mount Adams Ranger Station in Trout Lake at 4:15, just in time before they closed for the day.

We bought weekend climbing permits and asked about the route conditions. They were still recommending the winter route, but we ended up taking the summer one because it is easier to follow and already showed decent traffic.

The road up to Cold Springs was a little bit depressing, with most trees having been burned in the 2012 fire.

Burned trees

 We just had time to setup our tents for the night when the rain started. Camping at Lunch Counter that day would have been a disaster due to heavy rain and strong winds. This is why I could not recommend NOAA enough. You can drill down to the location and elevation of your choice for very accurate information.

We started the approach hike on trail #183 at 8:30am with light rain and whiteout conditions, but were able to follow the tracks on the snow until the sun finally came out a few hours later.

South Climb Trail #183

When we got to Lunch Counter we found two great rock shelters to setup camp, and started the usual snow melting and cooking chores. It was sunny and the wind was nonexistent, so we stayed out in the rocks enjoying the view and planning the summit route until it was time to go to bed at 8pm.

Mount Adams

Woke up at 2am and with ice axes in hand started the walk at 3:30. We were the only ones that made an alpine start that day. Crampons were on when we got to the base of the steep climb, and made our way up in steady switchbacks, practicing the French technique.

Climbing Mount Adams

This was the first time I used a camera pouch attached to my pack with a locking carabiner for easy access, and I’m never climbing again without it. I love sunrises, so now all I have to do is stop for a few seconds to take a high quality photo, even if I’m on a rope team.

Sunrise on Mount Adams

The path is very steep just before you get to Piker’s Peak, but once you’re on it, you walk on almost flat terrain for about 15 minutes, making your way north towards the summit, which in this picture is the little bump on the center left.

Summit view from Piker's Peak

When we reached the summit the sun was shining brightly. We stayed there for half an hour, ate some snacks and started our way back. The snow was not ready for a glissade down to Piker’s Peak, but was better from Piker’s Peak to the base.

The hike back to the trailhead was full of glissading, but otherwise uneventful. One just has to be careful at 6200ft, because the trail seems to split in many different directions. Head west for about 50ft and you’ll find the trail again. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has a great online resource for more information:

Trail #183



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