American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Mount Adams, Mazama Glacier Icefall

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Mount Adams, Mazama Glacier Icefall. Just south of Battlement Ridge on the east face of this 12,207-foot peak, the Summit Glacier breaks off into two distinct icefalls. The icefall nearest to the ridge is that of the Klickitat Glacier. Farther south and separated from the Klickitat by prominent cliffs is the Mazama Glacier icefall; this was first climbed July 8 by Dave Mahre, Dr. Ralph Uber and me. From a broad, steep headwall it drops through a narrowing cliff structure resembling an hour glass, from which is spreads out into the gentle form of the Mazama. The route presented two basic problems. First was the icefall itself which, compressed by the steep sidewalls and by pressure from above, is torn and twisted into a maze of séracs and crevasses that presents to the eye a 1500-foot vertical pattern of chaos. The climbing here involved some airy bridges, some delicate maneuvers on unstable séracs, and lots of ice chopping. Hard hats protected us several times as icicles dropped from overhanging crevasse lips. Above the icefall is a badly crevassed transition, gentle in comparison, where the glacier gathers for its plunge. This is but a pause before the second problem, the headwall. We could have traversed left or right to turn the headwall but rather chose to tackle it head-on, an exhilarating effort on the front prongs of our 12-point crampons. There were some delicate snow bridges and the last 500 feet averaged 60°. It was with regret that I finished this good climb as we strolled from the plateau of the false top over to the summit. It had been 30 years ago almost to the

day since I first had climbed Mount Adams.

Lex Maxwell

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