Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mt. Adams Splitboard Descent

Washington finally made up her mind and it's actually summer now. Thank GOD!

With a week and a half off from guiding work I had to get out for some fun. I rode the NFNWR (North Face of the NW Ridge) of Adams four years ago for the first time just after returning from Chamonix, ready to slay some steeps. 

It's an insanely intimidating line looking at it from the lake on the road in. It looks totally vertical. I honestly thought, screw that, we're probably not going to ride that line. You can spot the line the entire approach up the pumice ridge and it's not as steep as we thought. It ended up being an instant Cascade classic. Steep, exposed, fall line and perfect corn. One of the best lines I've ridden in the Cascades by far, obviously it had to be enjoyed again. (If you're a newbie, come take a splitboard course at American Alpine Institute!)

View from the lake. Green: approach, Red: NFNWR shred

Jason Hummel just finished the first successful American Alps Traverse with Kyle Miller but was still motivated to get out. Check this out, such hard men, so cool:

Jason's site: www.cascadecrusades.org

Juya, Jesse and I met up with him and camped in the parking lot that night. It's about a 3 mile approach from the Killen Creek trailhead. We intended on hiking in early and shredding the Diamond (seen behind us in this pic) or Stormy Monday, further lookers right of the Diamond. More moderate lines that are more easily accessible than the NFNWR.

Unfortunately a thunderstorm rolled in right as we got to camp at around 6,500 ft. Thunder, lighting, high winds, hail and rain ensued. This harsed our mallows (after this pic was taken) and we hung out at camp all day.

The storm passed and we got eaten by mosquitos. Jesse's face got so swollen I thought he was going to die... or turn into a giant man eating mosquito.

Turns out Juya had bug spray the whole time... we drowned our sorrows by the river with IPA and whiskey then watched this EPIC sunset! Rainier to the right.

We had a leisurely 8:30am start the next day. Ensued the chossy, pumice ridge climb to 11,000 feet in sneakers. Checking out the line (to the right of the Adams glacier) the whole way up.

Jesse, newly discovered ski model, on the last 1,000 ft to the top.

Juya about to drop. Juya LOVES steep, fast corn! St. Helens behind.

Jesse shredding the mellow bit at the top before the roll over.

Jesse shredding the mellow bit at the top before the roll over.

The snow was a lot softer than we anticipated. It was on the verge of being too soft for the skiers but perfect for me. Jason was sure the whole face was going to wet slide so Jesse and Jason both ski cut it before we dropped into the gnar. Just a few wet loose slides. I put my camera away and prepared for shred. It gets a lot steeper then the crux is a heelside, left traverse through a choke to another steep face. The snow was super fun, edge-able and shreddable. Just steep enough to get your adrenaline going but definitely still type-1 fun. We exited out to the skiers right through some crevasses, GS turns onto the Adams glacier and out.

We're "SO STOKED!" Great team and perfect descent, it couldn't have been a better ride.

Beware, if you ever climb the N side of Adams bring a GPS and BUG SPRAY! The trail is easily lost if you're unfamiliar with the area. People notoriously get lost on this exit. We didn't have a GPS or map/compass because Jason has been on the N side of Adams about 60 times and to our surprise he decided to stay up there another night, leaving us to forge our way out unguided. We got totally forest screwed and ended up bushwacking for almost 4 hours through endless dense forest, muddy swamps and meadows and the thickest willows and shrubs I've ever encountered. It felt like an eternal nightmare of mud up to our knees, swarms of mosquitos and fighting our way through cumbersome forest. I fell in something that looked like chunky, poopy tar then was immediately smothered with mosquitos. If there was a hell, this would be it.

It was pretty much like the picture below if you can imagine, only with bugs galore, big packs, unwieldy bush and with NO smiles, laughter or thumbs up.... Alas, we made it to the road with relief. We decided the NFNWR was totally worth it.

--Liz Daley, Instructor and Guide

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