Mt. Adams Southwest Chutes
June 27th, 2012
A 5 am start from Portland landed us at the snowdrifts blocking Forest Road 4080 and hiking by 7:30. I was joined by a skier who shall remain nameless, and Ryan, a Next Adventure gear guru. We set out up the dry road for a couple of miles, hiking in ski boots, until we reached snowline near the Wiki Creek Shelter. Shortly thereafter, we were skinning through nicely shaded forests until the timberline and Suksdorf ridge.
We skinned up to the large flat area known as the lunch counter and observed some fresh snow. The skier who remains nameless called it a day with an aching knee. Good thing because later in the day was pure misery for sore joints. Here is the Slagler portaging with Mt. St. Helens in the background
We were able to skin to the top of the false summit, only taking off the boards to bootpack the final ridge of rime ice. The new snow was boot deep and it was cold enough at the high elevations that it stayed somewhat fluffy, although we were still concerned with the possibility of a wet slide type avalanche.
It was very awesome all the way down to the bottom of the chutes. As the new snow faded out, premium corn snow filled the drainages. There were some extremely fun jumps and waves all the way down.
After the downhill came the traversing...and lots of it. I skied without skins, then with skins, then snowboarded, back to skis, back to skins, then to snowboard.... I am blocking these hours out of my memory from now on.
We somehow missed the climbing route on our traverse, and we were somewhat lost. It was getting dark. We discussed the possibility of an unplanned night camping in the woods with no shelter, sleeping bags, food or water.
After a bit more traversing, back in the opposite direction, we heard some voices. By 8:30 pm, we had found the route out. We rode it out to the snow line and started hiking the dry road back on down the mountain. The nameless skier left us a nice note.
It was quite a long day, we returned to the car around 9:30pm. We covered 20+ miles and 8,000 vertical feet of uphill climbing over 14 hours for one ski run, but but believe me, it was well worth it!