After a weekend of watching Steve skateboard in Hood River, it was great to get out of town!
We had been camping in the area for a couple of days, pretending to be civilized while we
hung around domiciled folks. We headed up toward Mount Adams, across the Columbia River,
after acquiring our Cascade climbing permit. We were also given "doggie bags," into which we
were supposed to defecate when necessary. We instead used them to carry toilet paper. Something
about depositing fecal waste into a brown paper bag just doesn't set well with me. It's icky.
It was Sunday when we arrived at Cold Springs Campground (5600 feet), near the toe of Adams'
South Spur route.Hundreds of people were there, packing up to go home after a busy weekend.
This place is a dusty ghetto, owing to over-use, but it sure beat being in Hood River. We made camp
whilst listening to Lucinda Williams on the car stereo. We'd discovered that for us to be successful
on big peaks like this, we had to approach it as responsibly as we would a real job, so we dutifully
packed our stuff & sacked out early. Come morning, we naughtily made waste like bears in the woods!
Naturally, we got a little bit lost, but with a volcano as big as this, we just kept heading in the general
direction of the hulking South Spur. I'd been on it ten years before, in a blinding Spring snowstorm, and
barely caught a glimpse of it then. Different this time. The closer we came, the more this giant squatted down
deceptively. Thinking we'd return the exact same way, I finished the water in my Camelback and hung it
on a tree (we weren't able to locate it on the way out). Glad I was carrying two more liters in my little backpack.
The left side of the South Spur - known by many different names - looked interesting. It was steeper,
and we thought it might be a little more challenging. Turns out it was first climbed in the 1960's, and mountain
skiers call it the 30-30 Chutes. Fred Beckey, the infamous guidebook author, referred to the route as
the Southwest Chutes. We donned our crampons and worked our way up and across numerous
sun-cupped snowfields. We were pleased to have bulging waves to negotiate along the way.
It was a beautiful cloudless day. We could see all of the behemoth Cascade volcanoes: Rainier, St Helens, Hood,
and Jefferson. Only a pall of ash obscured our view. Occasionally, we caught a whiff of sulphur, and once in a while,
we spied a fumarole smoking in the vast distances of this peak.
When we exited the Southeast Face, I was confused: we were alot higher than I thought we'd be. We were on a
sub-summit known as Piker's Peak. That left us only about 800 feet of elevation to the true summit! My mistake
was pointed out to me by a couple who were descending toward the South Spur. I remember that the final feet of
our climb seemed to drag on forever. Six thousand feet after we'd left camp, we stood on the apex of the
second highest mountain in Washington State. Its tiny summit rises off a broad plateau, an island in space.
Getting off of Adams is sheer delight. You run across the plateau to the slope that drops to Piker's Peak,
sit down, and slide to the next horizontal section. Then you run to the brink of the South Spur, sit down,
and slide four thousand feet to the foot of that ridge. Then, you hike your damp backside out to
Cold Springs campground, change your clothes, get in your vehicle, and drive back to
Hood River and get a hotel room, because you smell!
I didn't have the cash, but I had some plastic: we got a hotel room in Hood River. We needed to by then.
We'd been out for four nights, and Steve had been "showering" with OxyClean, and his supply was depleted.
Besides, Steve had some more skateboarding to do. And I had to videotape him...
Copyright 2011 EBBoykinJr
Steve Harris' photos Copyright 2004,
used with permission of
Steve Harris Photography
All Rights Reserved