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| | |-+  June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side
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Author Topic: June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side  (Read 3745 times)
Charles
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June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side
« on: 06/19/06, 01:43 PM »

I'm getting good enough at interpreting the forecasts that I would have choosen not to ski during this period of "unsettled weather", but because I have to plan months in advance to get the time for a multi-day ski trip, I pretty much had to go. I didn't have any partners, but I'd been to the north side of Mount Adams three times so I figured I could have a good trip.

The 2329 road was drivable to close to the Takhlakh Lake CG spur (a little further with high clearance 4WD). A 20 minute walk brought me to continuous snow, and except for a short carry on the road before the trail it was all snow (though dirty and lumpy in the lower woods). I generally followed the route of the Divide Camp trail, which avoids the lava flow outcroppings which are bare by this time of year. The weather was overcast but not raining, but as I reached treeline I started to enter into the cloud layer. I got a couple of glimpses of the surrounding terrain and was able to find the spot where I'd camped twice before. By the last band of trees, with a nice little 500 foot run right above, easy access to the Adams Glacier, very scenic, but most of all with running water in a natural snow cave - at least on the two prior trips. The snow was piled up differently this time, however, and there was not yet any evidence of the snow cave or running water. Good thing I brought extra fuel.

Right about when I had decided on a location for my camp, it started to rain. I had not brought a tent, just a bivy sack, down sleeping bag, and one of those high-tech tarps from Ace Hardware (brown-green version of the blue tarp, 6x8 feet). I quickly set up the tarp from a near-vertical snow ridge, then dug in to make a sort of snow cave with a plastic, instead of snow, roof. I was able to get the place dug out without getting very wet, and there were some small trees in just the right places to pull the tarp out over my alcove in the snow. Given the following weather, I was happy to have been stuck in this relatively roomy shelter rather than some small tent, because I could sit, move around, cook, and even stand up in the shelter. During the first evening I was able to collect the water running off the roof at 1 liter per 10 minutes, and I quickly had my 6 liters of storage filled. I made continual improvements over time, like adding a snow block wall on the windward side, finding sticks to replace the ski poles, and gathering winter blowdown of small green branches to line to floor and keep my feet warmer. Here's a photo from an intermediate stage:


The rest of the trip was pretty much either rainy, foggy, windy, or a combination of the three, with the exception of the afternoon of the third day. In the morning of the third day there were brief hints that it might be sunny up above, but I didn't think I could risk getting soaked getting up to the sun. By the afternoon, however, it looked like I could get up to the sun near 7000 feet without getting wet, so I made a quick trip up and then skied back to camp. The snow was very nice, smooth and fast. The weather was still looking OK, so I packed up and skied up onto the central Adams Glacier. After all of the gloom it was wonderful to be in the warm sunshine, and the entire upper mountain was clear. I skied up toward the base of the Adams Glacier icefall, stopping around 9000 feet. Below 8000 feet the snow was perfect corn, an inch or less softened, but above the surface snow was airy and large grained, 4 to 10 inches deep. The upper mountain looked like it had gotten fresh snow, and, for those who are interested, the North Face of the Northwest Ridge (NFNWR) looked to be in prime shape:


I didn't want to head back down out of the sunshine, but around 8 pm I decided that I should. The skiing was great! Nothing very steep, but the snow was so fast and smooth that it didn't matter, even the deeper snow above 8000 feet. I stopped several times to watch the lenticular which had formed over the summit, and to photograph the sunset colors on the upper mountain. Here's the closest to a skiing action photo I could get, my tracks on the Adams Glacier:


My hopes were certainly raised by this trip into the sun, but that night it got even more windy at camp and started raining again. The next morning (4th day) it was again raining, windy, and foggy. Although I had a fifth day for the trip, I decided that by afternoon I would either ski up into the sun or ski down to the car. I ended up doing the latter, though the rain let up just at the right time for me to ski out and not get soaked.

A very disappointing trip, but I decided that it must have been payback time to the weather gods for all of the great weather and snow I've had on trips in the past year. Maybe we need a new sort of joy-o-meter, one that takes into account the amount of time as well as vertical and distance. Four days for one short and one long run, that's probably a personal JOM record for me.

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skykilo
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Re: June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side
« Reply #1 on: 06/19/06, 02:02 PM »

Sorry you got hosed, Charles.

Thanks for the great pictures of the north side, though; it's getting to be about that time...
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Jason_H.
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Re: June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side
« Reply #2 on: 06/19/06, 02:07 PM »

Looking good, and so is the next forecast  Grin

Thanks for the report.
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hipystix
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Re: June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side
« Reply #3 on: 06/19/06, 09:42 PM »

Thanks Charles for the report.  I like the idea or driving a car to Takhlakh Lake instead of an old snowmobile!
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Charles
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Re: June 13-16, 2006, Mount Adams, north side
« Reply #4 on: 06/20/06, 10:53 AM »

You are all welcome. Too bad this week wasn't my week for the trip, but I hope others can get up there and enjoy good snow AND weather.
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