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Mount Adams in a Day

“You’re going to climb Mt Adams in ONE DAY?” was the response I received whenever I told any of my adventurer-type friends about the plan Andy and I had to summit Washington’s 12,276’ mountain. I guess it should have seemed a little crazier to us but the idea of packing sleeping bags, pads, water, and food up to the 9,400’ lunch counter and finishing the climb the next day seemed even crazier. So, we let our climbing friends know that we would meet them at their campsite sometime around 6am, pitched a tent at the trailhead, crawled into bed around 830pm, and set an alarm for 130… AM.

The morning got off to a slightly slow start (we left at 220am rather than 2am) but hiking by headlamp on an empty trail and racing the nearly-full moon up the mountain was pretty magical. We chatted and sunk into a rhythm, stashing an extra few litres of water a couple of miles in. The darkness consumed our hike as we followed the well-marked trail for a couple thousand feet. Then, the trail disappeared. Suddenly the darkness became complicated as Andy pulled out his GPS and map of Adams so we could get our bearings. Deciding that we would eventually find the trail, we decided to keep hiking UP and ended up climbing up a field of mostly stable rock for a while before realizing that we should be on the other side of the snow in order to get back on track. CRAMPONS ON. My first time wearing crampons was great fun- I’ve never felt so secure walking on snow in my life! I guess that’s what they’re for ;)

Maybe an hour later, still not 100% certain we’re on the correct trail but certain we’re going in the right direction, we hear someone call “ANDY!” and realize that we’ve made it to the lunch counter, where our friends were camping. Phew! Walking toward them and checking our watches, we realize that we’re quite ahead of schedule and that it’s barely 5am. The sky is beginning to lighten as we wait for them to pack up their stuff and drink their coffee. We took this moment to layer up a bit since the elevation was beginning to make things a bit CHILLY. Headlamps were beginning to appear from the abyss around us and our fellow mountaineers were beginning to rise.

Coffee down the hatch, backpacks packed, Andy, Ty, Kristen, and I set our sights on Pikers Peak, aka, the false summit of Mt Adams. The sun began its march up the sky, chasing the moon away for the day and if we were beginning to feel any aches and pains from the climb, they went sailing away as the sky paraded a cascade of colors around us.

Once again, crampons are the best things ever and whoever invented them needs to be hugged and kissed and just worshipped because this climb would have been a bit harrier without them.

Although my legs were beginning to tire a bit as we reached and crossed over the false summit, and my brain was a bit loopy from the elevation, our goal was in sight and everything below us was breathtakingly beautiful.

Up and up and up we went, staying ahead of a rather haphazard looking group, rocking out to some tunes and smiling at each other every so often, our thin-air-inspired grins full of excitement.

And then… SUMMIT. In under 6 hours. Because we’re very fit adventurers.

Sulfur Mine

Ty + Kristen (this climb was part of their ANNIVERSARY TRIP!!)

We hung out on the summit long enough to eat some snacks, drink some water, and enjoy the view before starting the climb back down, heading specifically towards the glissade tubes we were psyched about.

Now, the glissading was sweet for the most part. I was slightly terrified by the time we were halfway down the first one though since not only had some random dude nearly glissading RIGHT ON TOP OF ME, but a grumpy old man rudely informed me that the alternative of walking down with crampons would be incredibly dangerous (Ty and Andy were already down the tube and Kristen was loading up at this point) and that some girl had just been life flighted off the mountain because she didn’t self arrest at the bottom and ended up on the rock pile at the base of a tube. So, I elected to walk down a steep section… stupidly. Having no clue how to walk down hill in snow without crampons, I was on the verge of tears after I slipped, fell, and self arrested with all of my might. Andy, savior of mine, coach, adventure partner, speed climbed up the slope to me and walked me through walking downhill in the snow. I won’t go into any more detail, but I was legitimately terrified until he got up to me and baby-stepped me through the process. He really is the best ever.

The rest of the climb was uneventful and we eventually made it back to the trailhead (where the beer was). For my first “real mountain,” Mt Adams was incredible. I feel so incredibly thankful/fortunate/lucky to have had the climbing partners I had with me on this trip and even more thankful to have had Andy there, patiently coaching me when I needed it, and playfully pushing me when I wanted it. I cannot wait for our next summit <3

Portland, OR, USA

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©2020 BY CORIE L. TRAYLOR. CREATED AT SEA LEVEL.