A writer, a photographer, a doctor, and two brewers set out to climb Mount Adams
It sounds like the setup for some kind of a joke, but it really was just the climbing hodgepodge we threw together on short notice for an early September run at the summit of one of the Cascade’s grandest peaks, Mount Adams. I’d gotten the invite from my friend, Tim, the photographer, while on my way to Mount Hood’s Cooper Spur with the kids, which itself has a stunning view of Adams to the north.
While I consider myself an enthusiastic climber these days, I’m not the avid one I used to be for all kinds of grown-up reasons. Still, I love getting out into the big hills around here and, if at all possible, climbing to the top of at least one of them every year. Mount Hood, St. Helens, Adams, maybe throw in an occasional South or Middle Sister here and there. Something.
But by the first of September, with the school year just around the corner from Labor Day and with an annual summit attempt nowhere behind or in front of me, I’d pretty much come to grips that 2012 would likely go down without me having made it all the way up anything of real alpine worth. Sigh.
Tim’s call changed that, however, and just two days after returning from Cooper Spur, we were on our way up Adams’ classic South Spur.
Because it was mid-week of the first week of school, we essentially had the mountain to ourselves. Because it was early September in the Northwest, the weather was fantastic. And because Christian, one of the brewers, has some close ties to Hopworks Urban Brewery, we had some ideal refreshments — naturally chilled — for camp at the Lunch Counter.
The next morning, bright and early, climbing conditions couldn’t have been sweeter. Cool enough to refresh at sunrise and keep the snowfield solid for crampons, bright, sunny, calm, and warm enough to make it feel like the height-of-summer day it was. A perfect time to be in the mountains.
I’ve been in these summit shots on the 12,276-foot Mount Adams six times now, four after climbing the South Spur, two from the Mazama Glacier. The earlier images remind me of the initial thrill and bite of climbing; others capture trips where we watched paragliders soaring off the false summit or listened to a guitar and mandolin duo strumming from their campsite up top. This most recent one makes me glad that I got my head in the right place, that I worked late at night to make up for the lost time, and that we all got a real summit in for the year.