American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington—Cascade Mountains, Mount Adams, Klickitat Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

Mount Adams, Klickitat Face*. Between the two cascading icefalls of the Klickitat Glacier on the east face of Mount Adams is a 3000-foot headwall of almost the same width. This 50° slope of lava, ash, and breccia is adorned by several ice remnants and a minor jumble of séracs, then capped by an ice slope and cornice. For much of the year, it would be an intolerably dangerous climb. The secret is to find a nice day with ample, well-frozen surface snow. Such a day was July first. Dave Beckstead and I had worked hard for this “first ascent”; some nine miles of the approach (and hike out) was a drudging snow-covered road. But to have postponed the climb until the road melted would have brought unsafe conditions. A windy night with a flapping tent gave us little rest. From a camp near the south lobe of the Mazama Glacier we crossed to the Klickitat, then zigged through crevasses to the central bergschrund. Once across, we cramponed as fast as our bodily functions would allow. The morning sun was already sending gushing slides down steep furrows. Assumptions that we could keep out of gullies proved correct: We kept moving, using our picks and points, then found colder conditions high on the wall. Though it was summer, the ice slopes leading to the false summit were a replica of February, with none of the usual dirty pumice dust. Grade III.


* Further information on these climbs in the Washington Cascades as well as lowland rock climbs and other routes can be found in the Mountaineer. It is hoped that detailed descriptions of all new routes will be published there, while a selection of these climbs, with less detail, is published in the American Alpine Journal.

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