American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Mount Adams, North Wilson Glacier

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1962

Mount Adams, North Wilson Glacier. As Dee Molenaar recently pointed out, the broad expanse of the great east face of Mount Adams is so extensive that several new route opportunities still exist. As soon as the road was opened, Herb Staley and I drove to Killen Creek, hiked to timberline, and camped. In the morning we crossed the north ridge and began a long southward traverse of the flanks of the Lava, Lyman, and Wilson Glaciers. It was so hot as we gained the crest of an 8800-foot ridge late in the morning that we feared both avalanches and rockfall danger on a spiked ridge we had first considered as a route possibility above the South Wilson Glacier. From photographs, and from this excellent vantage point, it was evident that there was still one major unclimbed glacier and icefall on this face of the mountain—the North Wilson, which was wedged tightly between lava cliffs on the south and a cleaver between it and the Lyman Glacier on the north. From below we had serious misgivings about our chances of getting through the major ice cascade of the glacier as it plunged steeply between two parallel rock walls at about 10,500 feet. There appeared to be further crevasse problems up to 11,000 feet, then the glacier widened to allow more mobility. Once on the main cascade, however, every ice wall encountered seemed to offer a good route solution. Our crampons bit well as we zigzagged a tedious but steep courseup serac walls, ice bridges, and fragile crests. We did some step chopping, but did not need our ice pitons. Once above the cascade, route finding was the only problem, and several times immense crevasses forced us into long detours. We reached the summit two hours before sunset and immediately set off for a quick descent of the north ridge.

Fred Beckey

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