Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount Adams/South Spur

Good snow conditions, plenty of tent sites at Lunch Counter on a weekday.

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • Good snow conditions, although the glissade chutes were too icy in the early morning. Route was easy to follow, and we opted for the summer route, which still has plenty of snow.

Our group of six met at the Trout Lake Ranger Station to get permits on Thursday morning. Our two drivers did a great job navigating the rough road to the trailhead (I would not want to take a small car there), and we started hiking by noon. The first couple of miles are easy, on the trail with a gentle ascent, but it was a hot afternoon, especially when hiking through the burned forest (I later learned that this was the 2012 Cascade Creek burn zone). We took our time on the approach and took frequent breaks, getting to Lunch Counter by 5pm. On a Thursday evening, there were only two other tents in the area, so we had our pick of sites. We found some great ones around 9,000ft, free of snow and with good stone walls for wind protection. 

There were strong winds predicted for the summit on Friday, so we decided to make an alpine start and started climbing at 2:30am. The snow on the slope to Piker's Peak was hard but not icy, and we wore our crampons the whole way. There were some steps to follow, but not many and not always very useful, so we mostly found our own way, trying to stay right to avoid the steepest parts of the "waves." The route from Piker's Peak through the saddle towards the summit is wanded, and it was easy to follow. We were on the summit by 6am, and since it was getting windy and cold we headed down around 6:30am.

Unfortunately, an early start meant that the famous glissade chutes were too icy to be of any use: one other strong, competent climber tried to glissade, changed her mind very soon, and one member of our team helped her put her crampons back on while stuck in the glissade chute. We got lots and lots of practice cramponing down the steep slope, and made it back to camp by 8:30am. After a well-deserved rest and nap, we packed up and headed back, looking for more glissade chutes - only one was worth it, in the end. We'll just have to go back and experience the famous glissades another time! A great trip with a strong, supportive group.