July 26 (Friday) - Left Pullman at 8:30 AM. To approach the mountain we went over White Pass and turned left just past Packwood on forest road 21. At Adams Fork we went left on forest road 56 then right on forest road 5601. Just past Olallie Lake campground we went left on forest road 2329. We didn't see the Killen Creek trail head our first time past it and ended up on forest road 5603 before we realized our mistake. After turning around, we found a large parking area at the trail head.
We began hiking at about 2:30. The trail is used by horses and tends to be quite wide and gradual until it crosses the Pacific Crest trail. As we approached the mountain, the trail got a little steeper and was hard to find at times as we crossed patches of snow. Hi Camp was relatively clear of snow, so instead of camping on the flowering plants, we hiked above the traditional camp and arrived at the base of a large moraine at about 7:30 PM.
We dropped off our gear and scrambled up the moraine so that we could plan our route for the next day. We came back to camp, scraped out a flat spot in the snow and set up the tent. We heated up canned stew and chunky soup for dinner and went to bed at 9:30.
July 27 (Saturday) - We set the alarm for 3:30 AM, but I woke up at 3:00 from a nightmare. I dreamt that we had gotten up on schedule, and hiked around the moraine as planned. But on the other side of the moraine, we found a very busy Conoco station next to a major highway. I woke Eric up just before the alarm went off and we prepared for the climb.
4:30 AM - The sky was clear, and the full moon lit the mountain nicely. We could see our path clearly and soon rounded the west end of the moraine just like in my dream, only there was no service station, only a snow field/glacier that stretched out for about two miles. We hiked around a small lake and straight across the snow field to the south and stopped at a pile of fallen rocks at the base of Adams glacier for breakfast.
We started off again only to find that there were a few small open crevasses just ahead of us, so we fought a 20 - 25 mph wind while we roped up and put on our crampons. After winding through a couple crevasse fields, we climbed over a small mote where the North West Ridge met Adams Glacier. We turned left (east) and started up the ridge. We stayed on snow as much as possible and followed a narrow snow finger along the north face of the ridge. We had planned to traverse the north slope of the West Peak, but the snow got too steep, and a person who began to slide would have had very little time to self arrest before plunging over a one hundred foot cliff to the ice fall of Adams Glacier. So we changed our traverse and proceeded to the right (west then south) continually gaining altitude. The wind here was between 40 and 50 mph and the snow was hard packed and stable. We gained the southwest slope and headed straight up.
We reached the West Summit and walked the saddle to the main plateau. After dropping our gear we turned South and hiked to the main summit. The wind was so strong it was pulling moisture out of the air as it hit the top of the mountain, so we couldn't see anything from time to time, but the clouds cleared long enough to be sure we were at the real summit and let us look around for awhile. We could see Mt Hood to the south, St. Helens to the west and Mt Rainier to the north. The temperature at the summit was a mild 35 degrees, but with a 45 mph wind, we were comfortable in our wool pants and winter jackets and all the accessories as long as we stood with our backs to the wind. While we were at the summit, we saw two climbers coming from the South Spur route. One of the climbers was wearing shorts. By the time we left I think he got the idea that we thought he was an idiot.
We descended via the North Ridge. The way was gradual and all except for the upper thousand feet or so, was all on rock. The route was marked in the tricky spots and a light trail was worn into the ridge the entire way.
We got back to camp at about 8:30. The tent had been blown about 15 feet despite the 30 lb rock I had put inside it that morning. We were out of fresh water so we boiled some water from a little stream that emerged from the snow field near by and drank some coa coa and ate some sardines. We decided to sleep there a second night since the bugs were so bad down by the car.
July 28 (Sunday) - We got up at about 8:00 am and broke camp. We encountered dozens of people on the hike back to the car, both on foot and on horse back. Of them, we only saw one climber. He was on his way out after deciding not to climb for some reason.
Things that worked well:
Things that didn't work well: