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North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Mount Adams, East Face

Mount Adams, East Face. On the July 4 weekend Mike Swayne and I left to explore this least known face of Mount Adams, stimulated by Dee Molenaar’s recent article in Summit magazine. Approaching via the Killen Creek trail, we crossed the North Cleaver at 8000 feet and contoured the Lava Glacier to the east side. We were completely taken by surprise by a spectacle of savage ice cliffs and crumbling volcanic walls. To find a route up the face, if there was one, would be quite simple: any route that ascended on the rock amphitheater and reached the summit without being subject to the artillery barrage of the immense overhanging ice cap. The right of the face appeared to have a break in the ice cliffs. We ascended to the ice-capped rock wall and entered the third ice-filled gully to the right. The névé below the rock wall was pitted with rockfall, and we noticed large ice blocks scattered about. Passing the bergschrund to the left, we traversed its very steep upper slope back to the right to the ice- filled gully. Here pitches of —IV (covered with ice) were encountered. I had a close call when a very large rock broke loose and came within a foot of my head after falling some 100 feet. We had a sudden moment of panic when a strong gust of wind brought a shower of ice particles from above, often a warning of impending ice fall. At the top of this rock gully we encountered a long steep névé slope. Approaching the ice cliffs, we saw that, though smaller than elsewhere, they had been above us all the time. We located a fairly wide passage through them to the left. The weather, marginal throughout the climb, created difficulty in locating the route down the North Cleaver, and we arrived at the car fifteen hours after starting. We feel that without the cloud cap which created very cold conditions high on the mountain and shielded the east face from the sun the climb would have been unduly dangerous.

Edward Cooper