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| | |-+  July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
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Author Topic: July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams  (Read 2847 times)
ski_photomatt
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July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
« on: 07/11/03, 07:46 AM »

Predicted warm temperatures and reports of very good recent skiing in the Southwest chutes and on the Coleman Glacier led me to the north side of Mt. Adams.  I was eyeing the North face of the Northwest Ridge (NFNWR) but was keeping an open mind, should the snow conditions appear to be less than optimal.

I left the trailhead at 5am and quickly made my way to the meadows above the trail juncture with the PCT.  I was planning on beginning my descent sometime around 3pm so time was on my side.  As I started to climb the North Ridge, I slowed into a methodical pace, almost of an experiment to see how little energy I could expend while still making steady upward progress.  The North Ridge is essentially a long, boring, but quite scenic scree trail and the ascent gave ample time to consider descent options.

From the summit area, a skier doesn't have many options for easy descents if they intend to return back to the Killen Creek trail.  The NFNWR is steep and exposed;  the Adams Glacier is moderately steep, committing and requires a fair bit of navigation around crevasses and seracs.  Fortunately, the Northwest Ridge itself is relatively low angle and rarely exposed; by following its entire length, a safe descent looked possible (with one carry over what looked to be a scree field).  As I neared the top, the plan was to descend down the Northwest Ridge, keeping on or near the ridge line and evaluate the snow conditions.  Half way down, I could either commit to skiing the NFNWR if I felt completely confident about the snow, otherwise continue down the entire length of the Northwest ridge.

I reached the summit area at 2pm, and the first look down the Adams Glacier changed the plan.  I had also fully evaluated the glacier and memorized a line down on the way up.  The snow at the top was softening nicely (FYI - the summit area was covered in deep penitentes) and I left near 3pm.  The skiing and route finding around the crevasses were quite interesting.  The snow itself was far less than perfect - dirty, very suncupped and was frankly some of the poorest snow I've skied in some time.  I had been unable to make a positive identification on a route through the lower glacier and instead traversed out onto the lower NFNWR and then back onto the Adams Glacier at a crucial snow bridge.  A couple more crevasses to pass and I sailed out onto the flat lower glacier.

This is an engaging and elegant ski route and I think would be extremely enjoyable in good conditions.  After skiing the lower part of the NFNWR, I'm glad I backed off it - I could see the suncups from the North Ridge and simply didn't feel confident about the snow conditions.  If I had started down the Northwest ridge, I'm certain I would not have committed to the NFNWR and in choosing the Adams Glacier I got a more continuous, more enjoyable run.  Despite the poor skiing, this was a very satisfying trip.

I've never been to Adams before, and I must say I was impressed by the north side. It is quite beautiful with green meadows contrasting with snowy glaciers, but a bit unlike most places in the Northern Cascades. With the 30+ miles or so of flat log roads and the scenery completely devoid of any alpine character save Rainier, one really does feel as though they are on a big volcano. The only other people I saw were two hikers about a half mile from the trailhead on the way out. Complete solitude.
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wickstad
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Re: July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
« Reply #1 on: 07/11/03, 08:44 AM »

thanks for reporting.
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alpentalcorey
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Re: July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
« Reply #2 on: 07/11/03, 11:28 AM »

Nice trip report.  I had been wondering about timing on the N side, since I intend to go back myself for sure.  When we skied it on the 29th, the snow was much better than you describe, mostly smooth with little to no sun-cuppage.   But the pictures that Charles posted from early June seem to show the route in even better condition.  Out of curiosity, when is that TH accecible on average?
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skykilo
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Re: July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
« Reply #3 on: 07/11/03, 11:43 AM »

Suncups on NFNWR?  Is this right?  Just on the top?  I'm sorry to be questioning you, I am just surprised to hear of these suncups on a steep, north-facing slope.  I could imagine them on the lower-angle stuff near the top of the mountain, with more direct sun, but on the meaningful part of NFNWR??  

Feel free to call me a disgraceful idiot for questioning you, but I just had to ask.
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ski_photomatt
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Re: July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
« Reply #4 on: 07/12/03, 07:28 AM »



Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my trip report:  I didn't ski the NFNWR (except a tiny portion at the bottom) and instead skied the Adams Glacier.  The picture (the same photo Charles has posted on the main page, I hope it's OK to use it like this) shows my approximate ski descent in red.  The lower portion where I traversed out onto NFNWR is shown circled in blue.  The suncups here were huge, larger than any part of the Adams glacier.  Perhaps 1-2 ft across and fairly deep.  They were all filled with dirt.  I traversed out for one turn shown by the dashed red line looking for better snow but it was the same, so I traversed back and skied down looking for the crucial bridge to cross.  This lower section isn't quite as steep as the section just above it, but still approaches 40 degrees I think.  Perhaps steeper, I dunno.  From the north ridge, I could definitely see some texture on the upper NFNWR, of course can't confirm that it was large suncups like this, but I suspect so.  FWIW, the glacier was considerably more broken than in this photo.
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skykilo
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Re: July 10, 2003, Adams Glacier, Mt. Adams
« Reply #5 on: 07/13/03, 05:07 PM »

Thanks for clarifying.

I skied the Adams Glacier a week after that photo was taken, and I wasn't thinking of trying it again this year, but I  was considering another look at the NFNWR.  Hopefully with more beta, I will be able to find a descent with the LARGEST suncups possible, just to maximize my late summer skiing experience.

Soon, with fall, comes the much-sought-after water ice, and then a few more months to...

POWDER
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