Mt. Adams first solo


After a year of intervals and other painful training, I wanted to see how fast I could make it up a mountain. After going up the last few mountains with camping gear and lots of weight I decided to go as light as I could. I knew it was going to be warm and non technical, so I took a pullover, thin shell, rain pants, thin gloves, my new neck cover, hat and light hiking shoes with screws in the bottom for gription. In my pack I had 5 quarts of water, a pound or so of food, a small first aid kit, extra batteries, headlamp, SPOT and a camera. I didn't weigh it, but I'm guessing 15 pounds with water, 5 without.

I drove through the Gorge Wednesday night with beautiful light and sunset. I parked at the trailhead this time, not so many people during the week. I stood under the stars for a bit before sleep and was treated to a meteor leaving a puff of debris in the sky, backlit by the moon. That made the trip right there. I slept in until 2:30 and woke up to see others already on the way up. I forced down a bowl of cereal dotted by M-Ms that had lept into the wrong bag the previous day. By 3am I was on the way up the trail.

I tried to move as fast as possible without resorting to running. It was much nicer to go with a light pack and shoes than all of the gear from just two weeks ago. Light is right. I caught up to the previous group by the time we hit the snowfields. The snow had already melted out on the trail, quite a change from before. I got off route a bit by 7000' and ended up on the side of a scree field and had to downclimb/downslide the scree back to the snow. It's much more difficult to navigate in the dark. I passed another group putting on their crampons. It was cool to see a large group of blue headlamps on a ridge with all the stars shining.

I made it to our previous camp site by 5:15am. My slow math skills showed it took me a bit over 2 hours to make it all the way to Lunch Counter. I was really pleased with that speed. I had been unable to maintain a rhythm and still made good time. I stopped to put on my pullover as it was finally under 50 degrees.

I saw no one was above me on the hill up to Pikers Peak and held the hope I could be first on the summit, which would make 2 of my climbs such. I climbed as quickly as possible as I saw a few people getting ready from their camps to head up as well. My shoe/sheet metal screw combination worked pretty well until about 11,000 where they didn't gain much purchase in the icy snow. At the top Pikers Peak I looked at my watch and saw it had only taken an hour to do that section. Last year with Dan it took me over 2 hours, with comparable weight in the pack and a good nights rest. It was great to see training has paid off, halving my ascent time was awesome.

I paused to put on my rain pants and shell as the wind had picked up and the temperature dropped to under 40. I hustled over to the summit proper and went up as fast as my lungs would allow. I kept checking behind me to make sure no one was catching up, if anything they were further behind than before. I went up the last slope and saw I had the plateau all to myself. I looked at my watch and my climb clocked in at 4 hours 15 minutes from the car. I whooped at the wind and jumped around like a crazy person. It was awesome to make such a fast time (for me) and still feel strong.


I put on my go-pro for the pending excitment of glisadding. The first glisade was pretty tame but fun at over twelve thousand feet. I ran into the next group and chatted for a while before sitting down in the next chute. It was still early and quite icy and I found out my shoes were no good at stopping or slowing me down in the chutes. I prided myself in being able to stop easily with my boots, but the shoes would not dig for anything. So I got out of the glisade and walked back down to the false summit.

I sat on the false summit for a half hour, waiting for the snow to soften, eating a few sandwiches and drinking more water. It was quite chilly and windy, putting my light clothing to the test. The couple behind me stopped there for a bit as well, before heading down the first chute. Seeing them cruise down I went to the other chute and got in it, it's really like the hydro tubes in water parks. My shoes were no match for the snow and I resorted to using the axe to slow down. I ended up walking down a few sections as I was out of my comfort level being unable to stop with my shoes, unlike with boots that stop me quickly and easily.

Once at Lunch Counter I put away the axe and jogged over to the other slopes to get in more managable glisading. I made it back down to the dirt trail in about an hour, enjoying more fun slides. Once at the end of the snow line I saw if I made it back to the car in 40 minutes, it would have been an 8 1/2 hour round trip. So I tightened everything down and jogged back to the trail head, getting to the car 8 hours 5 minutes after leaving in the dark. Taking into account the hour of hanging out at the summits, it was about 7 hours roundtrip.


I was really happy that my fitness has progressed and allowed me to make it to the top in 4 hours. I was surprised I went up the 2000+ feet in under an hour, when last year it took over 2 hours. My shoe system was great on the dirt trails, but were to slippy in the snow and horrible in the glisade, which is more sad than anything. It was a great climb up and down, being able to move much faster than with a lot of weight slowing me down. Next year I will try a fast climb of Mt. Hood and see how that goes. Maybe come back to Adams and try to break 4 hours.