Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mt Adams March 16th 2016

Mt Adams 38/48 NH4KW  

Last official Winter hike of the season (10 NH4K winter peaks left for next winter -  or the next). I had originally planned to try and finish the season near the end of the week with a overnight hike to the Carters and Wildcats staying at the Carter Notch Hut. However the forecast changed and the opportunity came up to do a president   with mild weather and little wind on Wednesday.

Again I drove up the night before and slept in my truck in Gorhams Walmart parking lot. Also found out that there is a 24 hour Irvins gas station near by. Very convenient for an early morning coffee and muffin and head call before the hike.

I had tried Mt Adams on Feb 28th but had to turn around at 5000 ft because of bad visibility and high winds. The peak is at 5800' and only about half a mile from where I turned back. That time I came up Valley Way trail which had less steep sections of ice than the more direct Airline trail.  This time I decided to go up Airline trail with crampons (sort of) and whack over to Valley if it got to bad.  It turned out that Airline still had very steep sections of solid ice,  but once I changed from micro-spikes to my Hillsound pro crampons I could trek directly up the ice flows with confidence. Coming down would have been more difficult so I descended by way of the still icey but not as steep Valley Way. Hillsounds aren't considered to be "full" crampons (2" spikes vs 3") but where fine for these conditions. I almost had the whole mountain to myself that day which surprised me because it was a perfect 1 day weather window. The only other sole I saw on the trails that day was this speed hiker whom started from the same trailhead two hours later than me but had climbed both Jefferson and Adams when caught up to me near Madison hut and said that he was going to knock off that Madison before heading down. He then passed me again an hour later after doing Madison. Said he was in training for some peaks in Perue.

Anyway this turned out to be a great day for doing a president. Winds where only forecast for 15-25 mph but I don't think they got higher than 10. I was down to shorts and short sleeves by the time I got above treeline. I did have to put a windbreaker on for a while when a cooler cloud passed over.

Like my hike to Cabot three days before, I went light for this hike with my summer pack, but with more layers packed than I did for Cabot, and based on recent reports again did carry snowshoes. What a difference that made over my previous attempt.


 Started about 1  hour before sunrise ~0530. This just as it got light enough to put away the headlamp. Icy trails but still manageable with micro-spikes.

More ice but too many rocks to consider crampons yet.

 I think I had crampons onby this time.  This is not one of the steeper sections.

 Just out of the scrub and into the alpine area. took off crampons here and bare booted for a short while, but then it got icy and changed back to micro-spikes for the final leg to the summit.
 There was a great rainbow descending down into Kings Ravine.

 Some undercast rolling in.
Mt Adams - still a good hike left
This is very near were i had to turn back on my last attempt.

 Looking back at Madison with Madison Hut in the Col between Madison and Adams

 Looking down into Kings Ravine. This is part of the reason I turned back last time. One step too far in the fog, or a push from a wind gust in the wrong direction and it would be all over.

 Mt Madison again.
 Just a thin coat of ice over the boulders leading to the summit from the freezing rain the day before. Just enough to need the micro-spikes.
 As I was working my way over the boulder field cairn to cairn, the sun was melting the thin ice and I kept hearing thuds were big sheets of ice was being shed off flat surfaces.
 Getting close but a lot of boulder hopping left.

 Finally at the summit. Just as I got there a cloud started rolling in and took away the views. Jefferson and Washington were already in clouds. but I had time to hang around the summit for ~30 minutes and grab a bite and enjoy views North  until the cloud started to engulfed Adams too.
 It was a little tricky going  from a cairn to cairn on the way down in the fog but not a big concern because I had good compass bearings if I needed them
 It started clearing again before i got to the start of Valley Way trail  near Madison Hut.
 View toward Gorham down kings Ravine (I think)
I started down Valley Way with micro-spikes then changed to crampons when I got to steep ice flows - then back to spikes when  the rocks started outnumbering the ice sections - then to bare boots when most of the ice was gone -then back to spikes after falling a few times on little ice patches hidden under mud. between stopping so many times for changing traction and for changing layers for temp control, I don't think I've ever had a hike that I've had my pack on and off so many times. If my GPS is correct, the hike took me  11 hours but only 6:10 moving and 4:50 stopped. 
Near the end of the hike, rather than take Valley Way all the way to the trail head, I took an alternate route that travels along the banks of a river with many sections identified as water falls (really more like rapids).  It was a great day to end the season.

I have 10 winter peaks to do next year or later.
Three Presidents: Washington, Monroe, and Jefferson
Three Carters and Two Wildcats that I still hope to do as a two day overnight hike like I did in October of 2014.  And two really long hikes because of roads closed in the winter. Zealand and Carrigain.   Being a fair weather hiker (relatively) this may still take more than one more winter but that's okay as long as my health holds up.

This will probably be my last post for a while. Being a shameless peakbagger  I may not hike any substantial peaks until next winter when i resume my NH4K winter list (though the NE111 list is tempting :) ). I plan on shifting my effort to get in shape for a 1.7 mile swim across Narragansett Bay in August as  1slowswimmer :). and doing things around the house (like painting it) that I neglected last summer while finishing the NE100.