mount adams - south climb (12,281')

My climb of Mount Adams south route started off on the wrong foot. The drive from my house to the south climb trailhead should be about 4 hours. But, I chose the wrong google maps route. Somehow, google maps took me through Cougar, WA, and along the back mountain roads. My 4-5 hour drive ended up taking over 7 hours.

My plan to make the trail-head by 11 pm or so failed. I was going to sleep until around 3 am in my car, and then start the long climb. Yet, when I arrived at the trailhead, it was 3:15 am. There was the sight of 40 or so headlamps packing bags and heading off into the night. After some quick thought, I decided sleep was of little importance and began to stretch. I resolved to climb Mount Adams South climb route without sleep. After all, I had my sleeping gear and I could sleep at the lunch counter.

While wandering the parking lot to warm up, I became privy to some information. According to others there was little if any camping available at the lunch counter. Determined still, I resolved myself to lower my pack weight. Sleep or not I was going to climb Mount Adams South route in one day. I removed all my camping gear, stripped down to food water, and a few emergency essentials. Putting my feet on the trail all I could hope was that nothing else went awry.

From the start, this is as straightforward as a big mountain can be. The trail is easy to follow much of the way to the lunch counter. There are the few rock fields that you will cross, but outside of this the trail is well marked. After lunch counter is Pikers peak, where the real fun begins. From below it looks like a mountain in and of itself. After the several thousand foot climb to lunch counter it felt unconquerable. Already running on zero I chose not to sit down and eat. I figured 5 minutes of sitting down and the lack of sleep would catch up.

Pikers peak is the hardest part of Mount Adams South Climb. The way it looks from the bottom isn’t deceptive. It is a straight shot up a 2000 foot hill that will not let up. It is exhausting and will take everything it can out of you.

About halfway up Pikers I heard some screaming from above. While I couldn’t discern what they were saying, I looked and saw a huge ball of snow hurtling toward me. I managed to dodge it in time. Then I got to watch it slide past three climbers below me. One of them was a foot from a hit by the 6-foot wide bowling ball. There is a lot of people up here and they may kick things down on you. Stay aware and stay safe.

After two hours on Pikers Peak I was at the top looking at the climb to the actual summit. The rest of the south climb route from here looks so close but so very hard to reach. It is another 1000 ft climb to the summit of Adams before you reach your goal.

Despite the air growing thin, my eyes growing heavy and my legs growing weak I was able to make the summit. It took me a little over 8 hours. Finally standing atop the snow pile on top of the old fire lookout I was gasping and ecstatic. Mount Adams South Climb was my first ever climb to any real altitude and it was addicting. Something tells me I won’t be able to give this up anytime soon.

There is no drug or adrenaline high I have ever felt in my life that can match that feeling. The feeling of a high summit with the world at your feet. Today I know what it means to conquer yourself.

**2019 Update – My climb of Mount Adams South Climb Route was the beginning of something great. I finally climbed all Washington’s volcanoes as of this year (Rainier, Adams, Helens, Baker and Glacier). This culminated in a solo climb of Glacier Peak. I can say the high does not go away, it gets more addicting.