Good weather was supposed to last three more days so we hurried to Trout Lake to ski the South Spur of Mount Adams. The South Spur is a non-technical route up the long south ridge of the mountain. It is not glaciated and makes a good ski ascent/descent. When the road is cleared, the climb starts at the Cold Spring campground, at 5,600 ft. Even then, it is a 6,700 ft slog to the summit. When we climbed it, however, the road was still under snow. The jeep only managed to make it to 4,500 ft. This lengthened the slog to 7,800 ft. A two day climb again.
On the way to Trout Lake, we stopped in Hood River, the windsurfing Mecca of the Northwest. We had lunch at the local Mexican joint and ice cream at the outdoor ice cream parlor (the banana flavor is really good!). We also went to a couple of windsurf shops in the hope to replenish our stock of GU but we did not find any. We arrived in Trout Lake at about 4PM. After getting settled in at the county park campground, we went to the ranger station to obtain wilderness permits (self-issued and free until June 1st).
The next day we drove the Morrison Creek road as far as we could. We were stopped by deep snow 5 miles short the trailhead. We left the car at 9:30AM and skied up to 6300 ft, near tree line, where we set up camp. Most of the way was snow covered and we only had to take off our skis a couple of times. The weather was splendid - sunny blue skies. It was wayyy too warm. Once at camp, we both wore our Goretex bibs and jackets to try to protect ourselves from the sun but still managed to get badly sunburned! A fox visited our camp that afternoon so we carefully hung the food out of reach. After a long snow melting session and a quick dinner, we went to bed at 4PM.
After a good 8 hours of sleep, we got up at midnight. We left camp at 1AM. The night was clear. At 4AM, after making it through the "Lunch Counter" (9400 ft) we had a few drops of rain. Around 5AM, we were getting near the false summit. The weather was deteriorating rapidly. We started placing wands to mark our tracks. Not long after that, we were caught in a complete whiteout. It's always weird how you loose all sense of the slope in a whiteout. It is almost impossible to even tell which way is up or down. At 11,300 ft, things got so bad that we dug a small platform and waited for an hour, hoping for the weather to clear. We quickly got cold, and as the weather showed no sign of amelioration, we turned back. The section we were on was too steep to ski without visibility, so we walked down following our wands and ski tracks. At 10,500ft we put the skis back on and glided back to camp. As we were going down, the rain intensified and the snow became very slushy.
We packed our camp under a pouring rain and skied and hiked back to the car as quickly as we could (a lot of snow had melted since the day before, forcing it to carry our skis a lot more). The next morning in the bus, we woke up to beautiful blue skies... this s#@*s!
Mount Adams - South Spur
|Mt Adams (the day we arrived in Trout Lake). The South Spur defines the right skyline in the picture.|
|Our camp at 6,300 ft.|
|Waiting for the weather to improve in our snow pit.|
|At the "Lunch Counter" (9,000 ft) on the way down.|
|Taking a rest just below the clouds.|
|Eric skiing down the ridge.|
|Mt St Helens just below the cloud ceiling.|
|Lucie getting back to our campsite.|
|Back at camp, in the rain!|