Mt. Adams South Spur climb and ski

After my debacle on Mt. Adams last June, I was ready for redemption on Washington's second highest peak and Kyle and Jared were itching to get up another peak after our fun on Hood 2 weeks ago. 

We all met at the Trout Lake ranger station on Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend after driving from Bend and Seattle. Permits in hand, we set off for the Cold Springs trailhead, I was a bit nervous about the condition of the road as I had remembered it being very rutted out and narrow. Last year I drove it in the dark and was happy to not have come upon anyone else on the way up. Thankfully today it was quite casual in the daylight and even thought we came upon multiple cars heading down, we all had plenty of space to pass without incident. 

By 6pm we had secured great parking spots at the trailhead, just across from the pit toilet, perfect for the morning! Fired up the stove and made burritos, washed down with Fremont Brewing beers and a nip of Trader Joe's finest canned Cab Sav. Met a few other skiers including Steve from Everett, who gave us some excellent beta on the approach and the famed SW chutes we were hoping to ski tomorrow. 


Kyle, jared, Karen, Burritos

Cold Springs TH, Washington

After supper, we took a leisurely stroll up the trail until we hit skiable snow, about 20 minutes, and watched the sun set over the distant mountains to the west. Kyle and I slept pretty well during our third Karen bivy and we got up around 415am.

I made oats and instant coffee while we packed our gear and watched various groups of climbers head out of camp. I was pretty determined not to leave too early as the snow was going to take a while to soften to acceptable corn conditions and I knew we would make good time going uphill. Finally, after several trips to the conveniently located toilet, we were all ready to go right around 6am. 


7k feet to go

South Climb Trail #180, Washington

As predicted we made strong progress, taking the climbers left approach toward tree line and skirting the obvious cirque toward the Lunch Counter. By the time we got there the sun was in full effect but temps were not too hot due to a strong wind from the east. After a welcome break to refuel we set off toward Piker's Peak, still on skis, making steady switchbacking progress to the false summit looming large on the horizon. 


Above the trees, mt. Hood watching 

Near the top of Piker's we cramponed up and boot packed the rest of the way to the summit. Some climbers continued to skin but it seemed their rate of progress was quite slow due to the amount of switchbacking required to maintain grip on the steep, icy slope. 


putting on crampons

Near Piker's Peak, Washington 

The wind, which had been moderate up until now, was very strong atop Piker's Peak and the true summit looked very far away! We put our heads down, kept walking with skis on packs, and arrived at the summit of Mt. Adams just after 11am. The wind was so strong we didn't want to spend much time there, so after a few pictures we transitioned and set off for the long ski down. 


blue skies, corn snow

Summit to Piker's was predictably firm and survival skiing, but we all made it down without incident and readied ourselves for corn farming all the way to the Lunch Counter. Now fully exposed to the sun and protected from the harsh wind, the snow here was outstanding and pure fun for 2,500 vertical feet of smeary turns. We took several breaks to rest our tired legs and share hoots, hollers, and smiles. Once past the Lunch Counter the snow turned a bit sticky but remained enjoyable as it was just a bit after noon. 


skiing on a grand scale

Lunch Counter, Washington

I managed to lead us down the wrong drainage on the final piece of the descent and we had to contour a sidehill in our boots in order to find the trail again. I did find a lone mountaineering boot full of forest debris and carried it back to the trailhead in case anyone needs a spare. 

Once back to the cars, we stripped layers and got out of there with food on our minds. Ended up at Full Sail brewery in Hood River for burgers, fries, and beers. Made the drive back to Bend a bit more tiring but well worth it!

All in all this is a great route that deserves a spot on the calendar every spring. One day soon I hope to tick the SW chutes as they are a bit steeper that the south spur and one of the top spring ski descents in the Cascades. Grateful to have such good friends to share these adventures with!

Have Fun and Stay Safe, 


Andrew Kersh