Less Than a Month Out from Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams

Just a few more weeks before heading to Portland and a short drive out to Mt. Adams. Plane tickets are in hand, car & hotel reservations shortly behind it. My gear is just about ready. My boots are in great shape. I’ve been wearing them a few times a week over the last month to get them broken in. What felt like potential blister-points the first few times now feel just fine. They’ve loosened up a bit as well, and walking has gotten easier. The super-stiff sole is still taking some getting use to, but that’s a relatively minor point. The primary goal was attained: I can climb for a few days in the boots without destroying my feet (or at least I think so here at sea level).

I still need to work a bit on the compression of my sleeping bag (once uncompressed the first time), otherwise I’ll be leaving it at the camp site before the final summit push (not my ideal scenario…then again the lesser weight is somewhat appealing).

Fitness wise, I’m pretty sure I am about as good to go as I can be. For the climb itself, the part the concerns me most is the 2,500ft or so of 30% incline glacier trekking between the Lunch Counter and Pikers Peak (false summit). I’ve recently purchased a road bike to add some variety into my workouts and to specially work on leg and cardio/pulmonary endurance for the next few weeks before the climb.  I wanted to do the bike thing earlier, but I let time get a bit away from me. Hopefully I can make a little improvement in the few weeks I have with it before the climb.

I’ve also been researching the potential need for Diamox (altitude drugs), given the relatively fast ascent we’re planning for the mountain. But most of the commentary I’ve heard from others is that I shouldn’t bother, that I should instead focus on staying hydrated and fueled (food)…and to bring some Advil for the inevitable minor headache from the altitude. I’m still looking at this, though, and I haven’t made a final decision. On one side, I think having it with me couldn’t hurt. On the other, if I can do this without it, that’s a big deal (to me at least)…as I’ve spent 99% of my life quite happy and content at or near sea level.

Speaking of altitude, here are the relevant heights that matter for Mt. Adams:

  • Cold Springs Trailhead: 5,600 ft – this is the trailhead where we’ll park and set off.
  • Lunch Counter: 9,000 ft – the end of Day 1. Per my understanding, we’ll get from the trailhead to the Lunch Counter (3,400ft) on day 1, hopefully as fast as possible.
  • Piker’s Peak (False Summit ): 11,700 ft – I believe it’s from the Lunch Counter to Piker’s Peak where we hit the 30% incline. We’ll get an alpine start from camp on day 2, so we’ll hit this long before sunrise (I assume)
  • Mt Adams Summit : 12,326 ft – our goal
  • Total Elevation Gain: 6,700 ft

As I’ve learned in the few climbs I’ve done thus far, the “Total Elevation Gain” and Summit height numbers can be very misleading. A taller mountain might be a much easier climb than a less tall one. It depends on a variety of other factors (weather, altitude, presence of snow/ice, incline, exposure, etc). Mt. Adams is still pretty huge in my book at least (so far…it’s a short book). Not only is the Summit the highest mountain I’ve attempted, but the total elevation gain is also the most’ve I’ve attempted.

To document the trip, I’ll have the same Canon S100 P&S as I did on my Mt. Katahdin climb, but with two extra batteries that will allow me to keep the GPS on the whole time (to get a consistent track of the climb). I’m also working to see if we’ll have cell phone coverage to enable live updating (when able and safe to do so) on the mountain.

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