Mt Adams is one of the highest peaks in the North West. Our plan was to meet at the trailhead to the mountain and camp there.
I took highway 141 that runs parallel to the white salmon river to north. This road was paved, but it became a dirt road. As I drove more, the road was getting worse and I was forced to reduce my speed. There was still 30 miles more to drive, but it took me a long time to cover the remaining portion of the trip. It was ridiculous. I was down to 5 mph, and I was starting to doubt if I would even make it to the trail head. My car was a Honda CRX sports car and the road was covered with deep channels, perhaps from water flowing from the mountain. It was shaking like crazy, and I thought maybe parts of the car would fall on the road.
Camp site 1
Camp Site 2
Mt Adams is an endurance climb. And my car took its share from this climb. Well, we woke up well before the sunrise and geared up. There were about 12 of us, including our guide Doug Ironside and his friend Glen. Doug’s last name should have been Ironlegs because it seems like they never get tired. There was a long way we had to cover before we got to the point of gaining any altitude.
We were approaching the mountain from the east, and as the sky got a little bit of lighter so we could see better, I noticed that there were few others approaching from the south. We kept moving. As we moved, three distinct sounds repeated over and over and over: ice axe, left foot, right foot. It was hypnotic and rhythmic.
Now and then we took a break. And soon, one of the members of the team said he was too tired to go on. Doug asked him to wait for us at that spot, and we continued. One by one people were giving up. However, as we got higher and higher, it was not safe for them to wait at the point they gave up. At times we would have to climb up to a point where it is a safe place to wait, like by a huge rock to protect them from any downfall.
Nearly half of the team had given up. Everybody has a breaking point, and now it was my turn. I told Doug that I wanted to give up and wait. However, we were on a long steep climb with nothing around for a long time. He kept telling me that I had to wait until we got to a suitable safe place where I could wait. We kept moving higher.
Finally we came to a fairly flat platform, and Doug said I could wait there. In fact two people decided to do just that because they were too tired. However the problem for me was that now I could see the summit from there. It looked very close. I was energized again and I was thinking that if I came this far, it would be crazy for me to not get to the summit, unless of course I had a broken leg or something. It turned out that although the summit was visible and looked very close, it still took us close to another hour. This maybe because as we got higher into thinner air, it was becoming a struggle to take another step.
In the picture above I am at the Mt Adams summit. Great view from there, took a few pictures.
At the Summit Nev, Heather, Doug, Glen, ?
Here is the group picture at the summit. Other than Doug and Glen, only three of us out of 10 who attempted the climb made it to the top.
On the way back we picked up team members one by one. We glisaded down the steeper parts. I was already super tired, but it was a long way to the camp. By the time we got to the camp, it was getting dark, and my feet had blisters on it. If you remember the car trip from the introduction above, I was dismayed at the taught of driving that dirt road with cracks and holes everywhere and in the dark.
It was almost 10 PM when I got to a small town with a pay phone. I thought I should call home and let Lisa know that I am OK and I am on my way.
The next day I went to work. We had a meeting about some project before noon and I noticed that people were looking at me strange. When I put my hand on my face, it did not feel right, but it was not hurting either. As soon as the meeting was over, I went into the bathroom to look at my face. It was unbelievable. My face looked like a burn victim, my skin was peeling off like crazy. The rest of the day I tried to hide in my cubicle as much as I could. The reason for this much peeling of my skin was that while we were climbing the day earlier I had refused to put any sunscreen on my face like everybody else. Lesson learned.