28 - 29 August 2007
Mt. Adams Sunrise Summit Hike

Don't forget about the two panoramas:
360 view of the Sunrise from the Summit of Mt. Adams
360 view from the top of Mt. Adams

Sunrise from Mt. Adams

12,276 Feet Elevation
South Climb at Night

5:30 pm
7:30 pm
10:30 pm
11:15 pm
Tuesday the 28th
Leave from home
State Trooper pulls us over for speeding
Missed turn due to non-reflective sign
Found correct road

12:00 am
12:30 am
1:30 am
2:30 am
3:30 am
4:30 am
5:30 am
6:20 am
7:30 am
9:45 am
1:20 pm
Wednesday the 29th
Arrive in parking lot of South Climb trail head
Start ascent
First break, in tree line
Second break, first snow patches
Reach Lunch Counter
On glacier
Reach Pikers Peak (False Summit)
Summit Mt. Adams (sunrise)
Took 2 hour nap on summit (roof of shelter)
Descend mountain
Return to parking lot

After a long drive to the mountain, that included being pulled over and taking a wrong turn, Derek and Michael arrived at the in the parking lot of South Climb trail head. 12 am was much later than we wanted to start so we thought about waiting until morning because we were already tired. We decided to stick to our original plan so we changed into the appropriate gear and started hiking at 12:30 am. Michael was ready to rock out to music on the hike until his iPod broke shortly after leaving.

At 1:30 we stopped to take layers off because it was too hot. This is when we decided we would take a 5 minute break every hour, on the half hour. After we broke the tree line we lost the trail somewhat but still knew where we had to go. We decided to climb straight up a slippery rock side to the top of the ridgeline.

Once on top of the ridge we began to see rock coves where campers could stay for the night. They looked very temping to sleep in, even if it was for just a couple of hours. Derek kept saying that we should “just keep going, we’ll make it”. When we reached snow at 2:30 am Michael was determined to reach the summit by morning, as planned. By this time Derek became very tired and even began to sleep walk parts of the trail.

We reached Lunch Counter (approximately 9,000 feet elevation) at 3:30 am, or 3 hours into our climb. Derek slept for 5 minutes and we both ate another “Chewy” granola bar, somehow that was the only food that was practical to carry up the mountain. Lunch Counter is about half way up the mountain but the second half is definitely more challenging.

With sunrise at 6:20 we knew there was no way we could make it to the summit in less than 3 hours. None the less we continued to climb. Michael was basically feeling good, although very tired, but Derek was experiencing bad headaches due to lack of sleep (We both stayed up the previous night to watch the Lunar Eclipse), essentially climbing with less than 5 hours of sleep.

4:30 am. We stop at after climbing a steep section and rest for a few minutes. There is a climber ahead of us by an hour. We can see his head lamp when he turns around. The rocks are the hardest to climb so we try to climb where the rock meets the snow; it doesn’t take as much energy and still gives us support so we don’t slip as easy. Now it is getting colder and we are approaching what appears to be the false summit. It wasn’t though. It was just ahead, so we continue.

Michael made it to the false summit (Pikers Peak, 11,700 feet elevation) first at 5:30 and watched the sky grow lighter as Derek followed behind. When Derek arrived we took one last short break and then began to cross the intervening divide to the real summit. It was covered with ice so we walked slowly, but Michael still slipped and landed on his right hip.

We were really close. The summit was within reach. By 5:45 we climbed with more effort trying to summit before sunrise. The climber who we had seen earlier was only a few minutes ahead now. We crossed another slippery rock side before the final climb in snow.

We reached the summit of 12,276 feet elevation just as the sun was rising over the horizon. We were exhausted, but the view was absolutely amazing. Mt. Rainier, Hood, and St. Helens were illuminated and Mt. Adams cast an incredible pyramid shadow in the west.

The 3 hikers who reached the summit 10 minutes before us had left the parking lot at 8:30, 4 hours before us. Somehow we had climbed Mt. Adams in 5 hours and 50 minutes, including breaks! No doubt about it we were tired. So we slept on the roof of a dilapidated shack, whose inside was actually filled with snow. When our bodies felt somewhat better 2 hours later we started the climb down and 9:45 am. This was the fun part. While descending we slid down the glaciers, making it back to Lunch Counter in 1 hour.

When we made it back to the car at 1:20 pm Derek cooked macaroni and cheese, and Michael set up the tent. We ate and then slept until 5:20. Once we packed up we began the drive home.

Derek climbing to the summit Michael and Derek on Mt. Adams summit

Derek Rowley has summited Mt. Adams twice before and once unsuccessfully. The first two attemps were successfull, while the third was not. Michael was attempting to summit Mt. Adams for the first time in 2003 when when bad weather forced them to turn around.

Mt. Adams Summit Hike #3