Mount Adams Ice Climbing Routes

Three intermediate-level, Grade II ice climbing routes on Mount Adams–Adams Glacier, North Lyman Glacier, and North Face of Northwest Ridge.

getting there

Drive  SR 12 and drive (17 miles east of Morton) to Randle. Register at the Randle Ranger Station and then drive south on Forest Road 23 for 32 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 2329 and drive 5.7 miles to the Killen Creek trailhead, ~3 mi from Taklakh Lake (4,584 ft).

APPROACH

Three routes on Mount Adams—North Face of Northwest Ridge, North Lyman Glacier and Adams Glacier—share the same approach, but choice of camp may vary.

Follow the trail past the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) (pay attention, do not follow the PCT) and towards high camp in the meadows at 6,900 ft. With heavy snow, getting lost finding camp is easy, so keep your bearings. Established camps have access to water and good views of the mountain and the route. A higher bivy on snow is possible, however this entails a detour on the descent.

ASCENT ROUTE

Adams Glacier

The start of route up the Adams Glacier is about 1-2 hr from cam. The exact choice of route depends on conditions. Most parties ascend the right side of the glacier about two-thirds of the way, then work left to avoid crevasses. Expect moderate angle snow and ice climbing, especially in early season. In July, negotiating crevasses and route-finding may be tricky to impossible.

Notes: This is a very popular and good first intermediate ice climb. Snowshoes may come in handy if there is a lot of snow.

North Lyman Glacier

Traverse from camp across lava fields and across the Lava Glacier and around or over the toe of Lava Ridge to the base of the Lyman Glacier at 8,000 ft. Climb up and diagonal left as route allows. Ascend through a chute at 10,000 ft to gain access to upper mountain. Moderate open slopes and a few large crevasses and bergschrunds must be negotiated to reach summit plateau. The summit is a long walk to the southwest.

Note: An early start is essential. The traverse from camp to the Lyman takes 1 hour. The crux chute at 10,000 ft can vary between 45 and 65 degrees, for about 50 feet, depending on the year.

North Face of Northwest Ridge

Climb to the base of the Adams Glacier. The North Face of the Northwest Ridge route is usually not accessible at its base due to a large bergshrund. Ascend the Adams Glacier and traverse onto the North Face route after crossing crevasses on the west side of the Adams Glacier. The North Face route is 2,000 to 2,500 feet of sustained 45° snow and ice climbing. The route eases as it nears the false west summit. Traverse east onto the summit plateau and proceed to true summit. Route finding is not a problem.

Notes: This climb is subject to rockfall in warmer conditions. In early season, a road approach from the northeast to the trailhead may melt out sooner. Check with the U.S. Forest Service for current conditions.

DESCENT ROUTE

Descend the North Ridge down loose scree and boulders. This part of the climb is long, tedious, sometimes dangerous, and universally described as the most unpleasant part of the climb by far. Consult Beckey’s North Ridge Route description for details.

Notes: While a carryover and descent of the South Ridge is possible, a long car shuttle from Road 2329 to Cold Springs is needed. But many parties are willing to go through a lot of trouble to avoid the infamous North Ridge. A snow finger on the Northwest Ridge has been suggested as an alternative descent. Hike down the North Ridge approximately a quarter of the way down and work left down climbing on loose rock to a snow finger. Be careful of rock fall down the North Ridge.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HR) ELEVATION GAIN (FT)
Seattle to Trailhead 3-4
Trailhead to Camp 3-4 2,400
Camp to Summit 7-9 5,300
Summit to Trailhead 5-8

EQUIPMENT

Ice ax, crampons, possibly second tool, screws, flukes, pickets.

NOTES

A very popular intermediate route, and a good beginning ice climb. Check on road conditions, and snowshoes may come in handy if there is a lot of snow. While a carryover and descent of the South Ridge is possible, a long car shuttle from Forest Road 2329 to Cold Springs becomes necessary. Some parties are willing to go through a lot of trouble to avoid the infamous North Ridge.

A snow finger on the Northwest Ridge has been suggested as an alternative descent. Hike down the North Ridge approximately 1/4 of the way down and work left down climbing on loose rock to snow finger. Be careful of rock fall down the North Ridge.

Climbing fee and trail park pass required at trailhead. Ranger station closed weekends.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
  • Elevation Gain: 7,700 ft
  • 12,276 ft
Map
  • USGS Mt Adams West
  • Green Trails Mt Adams West No. 366
  • Green Trails Blue Lake No. 334
  • USGS Mt Adams East
Activities

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Titles

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Mount Adams/Adams Glacier
  • Mount Adams/North Lyman Glacier
  • Mount Adams/North Face of Northwest Ridge
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