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Mount Adams: SW Chutes Ski Descent

June 5, 2017

After a series of long days on challenging-for-us routes, we decided to head up to Mount Adams for the first time since September of 2014 when we climbed Adams in a one-day push. The single-day push is definitely doable (especially on skis and with good snow coverage!) but doing it with an overnight at the lunch counter is certainly more enjoyable. The caveat here is that we didn't bring traditional, heavy overnight packs; we've been experimenting more and more with bringing our lightweight bivy set-ups, complete with Patagonia Hybrid Sleeping Bags. The forecast showed cool and clear temps and we weren't worried about overnight precipitation. The extra sleep and rest made the ski descent much easier and more enjoyable for the both of us with the bonus of watching a beautiful sunset at 8,600'.

 

We got our permit from the ranger station in Trout Lake easily and chatted briefly with the ranger about conditions and the number of folks that were up there for the weekend. She indicated that over 100 people had gotten permits that day. Yikes! Knowing that the road was still closed a few miles below the Cold Spring TH, we were surprised at how busy the mountain was turning out to be.

 

 Our skin up to the lunch counter was uneventful. We ran into quite a few folks making their way up and quite a few still making their way down (we left the TH at 4:15pm). We elected to camp at 8,600', a ways below the typical lunch counter camping scene since it was quieter and we found a sweet, flat wind-protected spot to lay out our gear. We made a delicious dinner, watched the sunset, listened to some jerk shouting loudly for no apparent reason for nearly an hour, and fell asleep with lightning crackling in the distance.

 

 In the morning, we were awoken early by the sound of a large team pounding pickets in as they made their way past our camp. It was 4:30am so we decided to go back to sleep, dozing sweetly in the growing morning light.

We were up for real at 7:30am, packed up our gear and skinned up to the summit, packing our skis for a short stretch up to Piker's Peak and until we reached the summit. Adams was a sea of skiers and the camaraderie was in full-effect. We ate snacks and huddled in the cold for a while, enjoying the clear skies and (mostly) windless view.

 

When we clicked into our bindings (at around 12:45pm), it was still prettttty darn bulletproof. We enjoyed an icy, chattery ski from the summit and into the top of the chutes (we entered directly skier's right of Piker's Peak). By the time we were 1,500' into the initial descent, we decided to traverse skier's left and take a nap in the sun, hoping the snow would soften up. 30 minutes later, we were skiing again, this time on nice, progressively softening corn snow. It. Was. Rad. The SW Chutes are absolutely everything they're cracked up to be and probably more. Sweet terrain, great views, and a less-touched aspect of a very busy mountain create an incredible experience for skiers and we recommend this descent whole-heartedly.

 

 

Stats

Start: 4,836'

End: 12,287'

Elevation Gain Day 1: 3,789'

Elevation Gain Day 2: 4,396'

Mileage (Car to Car): 15.8

Time: 11 hours

 

Trailhead to Camp: https://www.strava.com/activities/1022401677
Camp to Summit to Trailhead: https://www.strava.com/activities/1021694469

 

Equipment List

- 1.5 liters of water each

- Snacks/Lunch/Dinner

- SUUNTO Watches (GPS)

- Sunglasses

- Headlamps

- Skis, AT Boots, Poles

- Crampons (no Ice Axes)

- Sleeping Bags

- Bivy Sacks

- Sleeping Pads

 

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