Mt. Adams - Mazama Glacier

Saturday–Monday, July 27–29, 2013
Leader: Sue Sullivan
Climb: 11.4 miles, 6300 ft

Most climbs of Mt. Adams are made from the south side approach, with a high camp at the Lunch Counter, around 9000 ft elevation. The popularity of this route makes the climb anything but a wilderness experience. On a typical weekend day more than two hundred people may make the ascent by this route. We opted for the Mazama Glacier route; this route starts on the lands of the Yakama Nation, and involves a drive over many miles of rough dirt roads to get to the 5700-ft trail head. However, the rewards of this route make the drive worthwhile; the hike to high camp is through beautiful alpine forest and meadow terrain, and we shared Sunrise high camp (8300 ft) with just two other parties – one of which had already climbed and was spending another night at this scenic camp before heading down.

John and I came from Bend and met up with the rest of the group at the trail head late Saturday morning. Actually John decided to go on ahead, expecting to be slow to high camp. I figured on starting with the others and staying back with him once we caught up with him. Turns out John was faster than anticipated and we caught up with him just before reaching the high camp in mid-afternoon. A plan was made for a 3AM start and all made preparations for the day to come. Some thought was put into a plan for negotiating the crevassed area just out of camp, and as the sun set everyone settled in for some shut eye before the 2AM wake-up call.

John had planned on staying at camp on summit day, and after some deliberation I decided it would be best if I stayed back as well. Maryanne, the assistant leader, agreed to lead the summit effort. The six summitteers got out of camp at 3 AM as planned, and were roped up, cramponned up and on the glacier by 4.

Maryanne’s report from the summit effort: “The Mazama Glacier route was a true alpine experience with crevasses, a blue purple red sunrise and only our team climbing. Once we joined the standard route, we fell into the conga line of climbers and made our way to the top. Of the 6 of us, 4 had never made it to the summit of Adams. We all enjoyed the view of Mt Rainier when got to the top, then hunkered down for some serious snacking. We started our descent around 9 AM and were back in camp by 12:30 PM.”

Meanwhile, in camp, John and I watched for the return of the climbers. We could spot them very soon after they left the false summit, and by the time they returned to camp we were ready to replenish their water supply for the trip out. We headed back out and were at the trail head by 4 PM, and in Trout Lake enjoying hamburgers an hour after that.

Members: Sue Sullivan, Shellie Robertson, Maryanne Reiter, Steven Johnson, Marge Huseman, Dave Beardsley, John Mowat. Nonmembers: Justin Johnson.


This goat chewed his cud and watched us from the ridge above camp.—photo by Sue Sullivan
click here for more photos from this trip


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