Mount Adams, 12,276 Feet

North Ridge Ascent, South Portion Lyman Descent

Mount Jackie Adams lookin' fine indeed.

June 4th, 2004

Story By: Jason Hummel

WHO: Corey Bloom, Cyril Benda, Amar Andalkar, Sky Sjue, Jason Hummel, Sam Avaiusini

Mount Adams has a tendency to drum up dreams of laid back, relaxing afternoons followed by a peaceful slumber. Come morning though, the goods are cooking under a warm sun. This time unlike every other time I’ve been up to Adams, Sky called to tell me he was going up to the North Side on Thursday with plans to stay as long as the weather is good. Well, I decided to take Friday off and meet the misbegotten, physicist for a little experimental skiing up on the Lyman Glacier. My plan was for a quick in and out. Good lovin’! Last year Ben Manfredi and I discovered many wonderful, mind-boggling pristine turns on the North Portion of the Lyman Glacier. Corey and Sky followed our tracks down afterwards having missed us during their late night trod up to base camp. Our paths crossed but never collided. Somehow we missed them the entire trip. This time I was hoping not to be rewarded a switched scenario for the dubious distinction of ‘sloppy seconds’.

So, it’s one o’clock in the morning and Sam is knocking at my door. I figured it’s either those annoying birds dancing on my window sill or I made plans to go climbing. A quick glance at my alarm alerted me to the later. Sam took charge and made the grueling drive to the parking lot. There was a full moon and no clouds. So far, so good. By the time we reached the small dirt road our hopes were raising. Thoughts like, “Maybe we don’t have to hike,” paced hand in hand with hope. Nearly home free now, we see Sky and groups vehicles parked. With Sam’s Subaru in charge we charged the snow and somehow made it through the first obstruction. The next one we decided to dig, after which we were home free or trail free.

We loaded our packs and headed off. It was something like 4 in the morning and we were already beat. I left most of my food at home (way to go pedro), but figured I had enough to get the job done. With nearly four weeks of sporadically poor weather, I was getting out of shape. This sporadic weather happened to land on each of the last three weekends for guarantees that any excuse to sit and do nothing was sufficient enough for an excuse. Albeit, I felt pretty good all the way to high camp, which was just below where we expected the others to be and by others I mean Amar, Cyril, Sky, and Corey. Yep, a full house! We found them lounging and stuffing there faces at camp. I was jealous for sure. After greetings, I discovered a nice rock for a quick nap. Somewhere between stopping and going the wind ceased and the air temperature soared. Ah, just in time service. Now, where's my hovercraft!

Camp gangbusters.

We skinned the lower slopes up to the rocky ridge before packing skis. From that point on we climbed the lower 'boulder fields of dreams'. Another first for me was hiking this part in my Scarpa ski boots. I’d climbed in slippers and shoes but never clunky boots. Believe it or not I usually like this climb, choss pile bedamned. Well, my thrill was diminishing by the step. Ever hear of the law of diminishing returns? Well, for each additional boulder added my output decreased with each additional step forward. I was suckin’ it up in fine style. I caught up with the others and decided to take a nap. A persistent, erratic drip faked me out. I thought it was Sam, but it wasn’t. By the time I got up, I saw the last of our group climbing up and out of sight. Right on, I thought! I’ll catch them, but didn’t.

My pack takin' a break while I continue on.

We decided to stop at the summit cap. Sky ran down to say, “Come on Fatboy.” Reminding me of the days Benman would utter the same phrase to get me to kick it up a notch. Sky’s getting good at it. While stopping at the summit cap isn’t the top, I could care less. I’d been to the summit of Adams nearly 30 times. My priority was getting on the Lyman. We followed the upper bergschrund's to the top of the route. The upper headwall is somewhere around 40 degrees. Not bad under average conditions and, in fact, much easier than anticipated.

A side view of the South Portion of the Lyman Glacier.

Cyril checking the goods before gettin' down.

All the new snow that had fallen recently didn’t seem to be much of a danger. In fact, I wasn’t even able to get the slope to sluff. Everyone was taking photos of everyone else skiing. Again, like last year, grins were shared by all. We were having a blast! Of course, there was plenty to go around and we were all in search of the goods, but pretty much restricted to the glacier itself which is cleaved in two by a massive ridge. Comparative small but still truly awesome were the ice cliffs that guarded the edges of the glacier with menacing looks. Towards the bottom, I was looking for a photo for Sky. Of course I mention a shot lookin’ up at the ice wall. He skis around the serac below me and gets ready. Meanwhile I’m trying to forget how tired my legs are. Much of the way down I lazily carved downhill turns instead of tele. I didn’t really recognize my laziness until the bottom of the route. Anyhow, tangent complete, back to the ice fall. Sky was ready and I was going. One turn, two, a short hesitation before I commit to see if Sky is really ready, then? Do you remember seeing those nature films of boats in Alaska overlooking huge sprawling glaciers, chunks of which are calving into the ocean, well facsimile that scenario into a smaller show on the Lyman glacier and you got a bunch of jaws brushing the snow. HELLO! Sky, using his basketball ‘go for the hoop move’ played the ball around the back to the left hand with the mother of guards. Suffice it to say, he got the smack down and retreated to half court. An inch is as good as a mile as they say. Next time it occurs to me to snap a photo of an ice fall, I think I’ll remind myself ‘once – at the lyman glacier….’ Anyhow, I swooped in and snatched Sky’s poles before we skied the final 35-40 degree slopes to the bottom.

Cyril taking a break. Notice the hole in the background.

Sky skiing like a champ. Notice the look.

Corey bringing a little Alpental to Adams.

The ice fall came from the cliff above this and fell to the far right of this photo. The chute I was going to ski was between the ice cliff glistening above Sam.

I think Sky is right. Where is the angulation?

Sami boy swooping in for the finish. Okay your lookin' better here.

From the flats the North Portion of the Lyman looked like cake compared to the previous year. It just goes to show you how convoluted a glacier can become given a little sun. The South Portion is no different with certain years showing a much uglier face that we enjoyed today. I snapped a few shots of both glaciers before continuing the long traverse back to camp.

Sky, you're the man. I like the new yellow pack. If physics don't work out for you, you might consider modeling.

Sam and I parted ways with the others at the lake. We didn’t want to sit around and wait for them to pack, so we headed. This retreat back to the car isn’t usually a challenge, but with no tracks and a lot more snow that I’m used to, easy is relative. This necessitated me finding the trail. No problem! Sally ho to the forest we go, and into the forest we went. Soon I realized we weren’t going to find the trail. Way to go champ! I could hear the crackle of the hot coals already. “How many times have you been here?” My mojo was seriously being ruffled on this excursion. First I suck it up on the climb, then I try and tell Amar and Sam that their altimeters are wrong, and then I get us lost. By us, I mean the others who are going to follow my tracks. Oh yea, their in for a treat. After some thought, I figured I was in, on, and about Killin Creek, which will put me out on the road and that’s exactly where we crawled out of.

Some food and water, clean cloths and socks put us in the car and down the road. We honked the horn a few times and stopped where the others had parked. Somewhere about an hour after us they also crawled out. Sky had a grin and Cyril, a bigger one. The first words out of Sky’s mouth, “Way to go champ.” I could reply only with a laugh. Not long after the others found their separate way out via the creek.

"Yea, you knew right where you were!"

In a sputtering conclusion, this trip rocked. It was awesome to get out with a bunch of ski freaks on a great trip. I know they’ll eventually forget the schwacking and in hindsight, what’s a story worth telling without a bang of flavor at the end. I hear a lot of those plants we were busting through make for good eatin’. Gobble.


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