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Ski the Southwest Chutes of Mt Adams
GPS Data: Map, Track, Waypoints
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GPS Stats and other info:
7/1/06: My first time skiing the Southwest Chutes on Mt Adams
Word is just out that the forest service road to Cold Creek on Mt Adams is
free of snow all the way to the trailhead. I and Jim, Yanna, Al, Dina, Tammy,
Heather and Erich decide to join a couple hundred of our favorite backcountry
friends and climb it. Our goal is to ski the south west chutes. It'll be the
first time for a few of us, me included.
Getting there is half the fun
I meet up with Jim and Yanna in Bellevue at 3:30pm and we head out of town on
Friday evening of the July 4th weekend - traffic sucks, forcing us to get
creative. Avoiding I-5 at ALL COSTS our plan is to take back highways and roads
to Randle and then FS-23 from there to Trout Lake near Mt Adams. We've been
fighting traffic for an hour when the rest of our group (5) is finally leaving
town in two more cars. They're planning on driving I-5 to Portland, then east.
It'll be interesting to compare arrival times. After another half an hour I call
Dina certain they're sitting in a parking lot but no... traffic isn't bad and
they're cruising... maybe we made the wrong decision.
Mt Adams seen from FS road 23 (looking east). The Southwest Chutes are on the right.
The town of Randle is southeast of Tacoma. From there, FS road #23 winds its way to Trout Lake, just south of Mt Adams. It is definitely shorter than the I-5 route, it winds, it's slower, and it's sometimes gravel but it's also an incredibly beautiful drive through the forest plus it offers some absolutely awesome views of Mt Adams from the west.
Being there is the other half...
It's after 10 when we finally arrive at the Cold Creek camping area which is a
zoo of parked cars and packing climbers. We backtrack a bit and pick a spot to
park Jim and Yanna's van. I search out a flat spot in the forest as far as
possible from the chaos to pitch my bivy tent. It's 11 PM when my head hits the
pillow. My alarm is set for 5:30.
Jane! stop this crazy thing!
Again around 4 AM I'm awaked. "Jane!" loud and urgent a young woman's voice
sounds like it's right outside my tent! Her footsteps head right for me, then
stop - oh! NOW she sees me - and then she heads off in a different direction.
for the next 20? minutes she wanders the camping area waking absolutely everyone
yelling... just... "JANE!" I drift off and reawake hearing her only in the
distance, thank god. Again I drift off just to reawaken once more to her cries,
again right outside my tent. This time her friend answers. I'm privy to snippets
of their heartfelt reunion as they finally walk away. GAAAAAAAKKKKKK! Later I
hear that her friend had walked into the woods to answer the call of nature and
never came back. I feel so much better knowing the situation was life
At 5:30 I rise to find Al + Dina's Van parked next to Jim's. There story is a
sad one: Shortly after we spoke on the phone yesterday at 9pm they had a tire
develop a "bubble". Changing the tire took a while... They stopped for dinner...
Al is certain this string of events is proof that the mountain doesn't want to
be climbed but Dina says bad things come in threes and they are done.
Oh yah, the skiing
Tammy, Jim, Al, Dina, Heather, (Erich)
We're at the trailhead at 7 AM. It's a glorious day, no clouds, warm... the
trail is pretty much bare of snow till about 6100 feet. our party of 8 is (I
think) the last one on the mountain... though we pass several parties that don't
summit and gain on others that do. Some of our party skin most of the way and I
think they make better time than those of us who carry. The views of Hood and
Saint Helens are great. I bring up the rear, the last of the last and arrive at
the false summit at 1:20. I was interested in continuing to the summit since
I'd never been there, Heather too but it's clear that conditions for the chutes
look good and sitting around for another hour in the warm won't make them any
better. After a rest we elect to head down at about 2 PM.
The most prominent peaks as seen from the top of the chutes
The skiing is incredible. Great corn snow all the way except for a slower,
slushy section near the bottom. I turn, turn, turn, stop, breathe, repeat,
repeat, repeat... and feel like I've only made a dent! This run goes on forever!
Heather, Jim, Al
Mt St Helens
We pause again to exclaim what an incredible day
this has been before beginning the hike back. There are tracks here that
Gifford Pinchot National Forest site http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/recreation/
Gifford Pinchot National Forest road conditions http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/recreation/current-conditions/roads.shtml
Weather (zone forecasts for SW Washington) http://www.atmos.washington.edu/data/zone_report.KPQR.html
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