Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes
        Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
  Lassen Peak
  Mount Shasta
  Medicine Lake Volcano
  Mount McLoughlin
  Pelican Butte
  Crater Lake
  Mount Bailey
  Mount Thielsen
  Diamond Peak
  Newberry Volcano
  Mount Bachelor
  Broken Top
  Three Sisters
  Mount Washington
  Three Fingered Jack
  Mount Jefferson
  Mount Hood
  Mount Saint Helens
  Mount Adams
  Goat Rocks
  Mount Rainier
  Glacier Peak
  Mount Baker
  Mount Garibaldi
  Mount Cayley
  Mount Meager

| View of Mount Adams looking northeast
from Trout Lake in early summer
(photo by Amar Andalkar)   <click to enlarge>

Mount Adams
    12276 ft (3742 m) .
Major Peaks:
Main Summit:     12276 ft (3742 m)
The Pinnacle:     12080 ft (3682 m)
Pikers Peak (False Summit):     11657 ft (3553 m)
Location: Cascade Range, southern Washington,
75 miles (120 km) NE of Portland, OR
Lat / Long: 46.2° N, 121.5° W
Volcanic Type: Stratovolcano complex
Volcanic Status: Active, fumaroles at summit
First Ascent: A. G. Aiken and party, 1854
First Ski Ascent: Hans-Otto Giese, Hans Grage, Sandy Lyons,
Walter Mosauer, and Otto Strizek, 1932
First Ski Descent: same
Skiable Vertical: over 8000 ft (2400 m),
perhaps 10000 ft (3000 m) is possible
Timberline: 6000-6500 ft (1800-2000 m)
Administration: Gifford Pinchot National Forest / Yakama Indian Nation
Protection Status:   Mount Adams Wilderness
User Fees: $15 climbing fee ($10 Mon-Thurs) required above 7000 ft
from June 1 to September 30. ├ŁNorthwest Forest Pass required
for parking (Sno-Park Permit from November-April)

Mount Adams is the second highest peak in Washington State and the third highest in the Cascade Range. It is a broad volcanic massif which towers above the surrounding hills about 30 miles north of the Columbia River. The summit is covered by a large icecap, and over a dozen glaciers pour down its flanks, most via massive and treacherous icefalls. However, the South Rib (Suksdorf Ridge) route is crevasse-free, providing one of the easier climbing routes and nicest ski runs on any of the northern Cascade volcanoes. It has over 7000 ft (2100 m) of skiable vertical in the spring, including a near-perfect 30-degree pitch for over 2500 ft (800 m) below the false summit. An even better descent is the Southwest Chutes variation, which drops for over 4000 vertical feet (1200 m) from the false summit at a consistent 35-40 degree pitch.

Route Ratings Starting
Quality Effort Ascent Descent
Summit Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
South Rib
  (Suksdorf Ridge)

5600 ft
(1700 m)
6700 ft
(2000 m)
12 miles
(19 km)
This non-technical summit route is one of the true Cascade classics. The slope below the 11,657 ft false summit (Piker's Peak) holds a consistent 25-30 degree pitch for over 2500 vertical ft, often with superb corn snow in late spring and early summer. The entire route is crevasse-free, although the section above the false summit ascends the glaciers of the massive summit icecap, and it is relatively easy to ascend the entire route on skis. A downside is the extremely nasty "road" to the trailhead, often blocked by fallen trees and snow at low elevation through late spring, and really more like 5 miles of streambed when snow-free. (See my ski trip reports from June 1997 and July 1998.)
Southwest Chutes
  from False Summit

5600 ft
(1700 m)
6700 ft
(2000 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
A variation of the previous route, with even better ski terrain. The chutes drop SW from the false summit at a 35-40 degree slope for over 4000 vertical feet. Can climb either the South Rib or the chutes directly. If done after late spring, the traverse back to the climbing route from the bottom of the chutes may be snow-free.
Mazama Glacier
5600 ft
(1700 m)
6700 ft
(2000 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
Another (somewhat circuitous) variant of the South Rib, which avoids that route's crowds at least below the false summit (the routes merge above). Moderately crevassed, this route also a fine long, steep pitch as it drops SE from the false summit.
Avalanche Glacier -
  White Salmon Glacier

5600 ft
(1700 m)
6700 ft
(2000 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
A moderate glacier route which avoids the crowds of the South Rib. The upper part of the White Salmon Glacier is somewhat steeper and crevassed, and exposed to rockfall from rotten cliffs nearby. However, in August 1997, a massive debris avalanche covered the lower Avalanche Glacier in 5 million cubic meters of debris, about 90% snow and ice. This was the largest avalanche in the Cascades since 1963 (not counting the landslide of Mt St Helens' 1980 eruption).
North Face of
  Northwest Ridge


4700 ft
(1400 m)
7600 ft
(2300 m)
16 miles
(26 km)
This steep face falls from the Pinnacle (the NW summit of Adams) for nearly 3000 ft of 40-50 degree terrain. The route is snow in early season, but hard neve and ice later on, making it unpleasant and risky for skiing, although it is a decent intermediate-level alpine ice climb. No crevasse hazard on the face, but the lower part of the route joins the heavily-crevassed Adams Glacier.
North Ridge
4600 ft
(1400 m)
7700 ft
(2300 m)
17 miles
(27 km)
This is the second most popular climbing route on Adams, and the first ascent route in 1854. Mostly moderate and easy terrain when snow-covered, although there are a couple of narrow and exposed sections above 9000 ft. This route is a notoriously unpleasant scramble on the descent after the snow is gone, but that shouldn't be a problem on a spring ski trip.
Lava Glacier /
  Lava Ridge

4600 ft
(1400 m)
7700 ft
(2300 m)
18 miles
(29 km)
This steep route reaches 45-degrees on the upper part of the headwall. Not sure if anyone skis it, but in the photo on page 62 of the Cascade Alpine Guide it looks like a fine steep skiing route. Early season and a deep snowpack would be required to avoid hard neve (on the glacier headwall) or rocky sections (on the ridge).
Other Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
Gotchen Glacier
  via Aiken Lava Bed

3800 ft
(1150 m)
4200+ ft
(1300+ m)
14 miles
(22 km)
A very gentle low elevation route which follows the massive 4-mile long lava flow of the Aiken Lava Bed. The Gotchen Glacier is a small cirque glacier fairly low on the SE flank near the South Butte. This route is also an alternative early season access to the South Rib, since the Smith Butte snow park at 3800 ft is plowed out while the road to the South Climb may be blocked by snow as low as 3000 ft.
Crescent Glacier
5600 ft
(1700 m)
3000+ ft
(900+ m)
6 miles
(10 km)
The Crescent Glacier is another small cirque glacier filling a basin low on the mountain. The South Rib route goes past the western edge, so this makes a good alternative if poor weather prevents an ascent to the summit. There are numerous short but steep pitches around the cirque.

Upcoming additions: Topographic map showing all ski routes.
Full page descriptions and photos of South Rib, SW Chutes, and North Ridge routes.

| Mount Adams from the NW in July, with the Adams Glacier at center
and the North Face of the NW Ridge dropping straight down
from the Pinnacle, the highest visible point
(photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

| The western face of Mount Adams in July, with the three main summits of
(left to right) the Pinnacle, the true summit, and at right the false summit.
The Southwest Chutes angle down and right from the false summit.
The White Salmon glacier drops from the gap to right of the Pinnacle.
(photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

Useful Web Links:

Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Home Page
Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Recreation Reports
Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Trail Reports
Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Road Reports
Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Mount Adams Climbing Info
National Weather Service Office: Seattle, WA
The Weather Channel: Trout Lake, WA, Forecast
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Mount Adams
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Mount Adams 1997 Debris Avalanches (photos of huge slides!)

List of Guidebooks:  (detailed references on the bibliography page)

100 Classic Ski Routes in WA South Rib, Southwest Chutes (skiing info)
Wild Snow South Rib, Southwest Chutes(skiing info)
Oregon Descents South Rib, SW Chutes, Crescent Glacier(skiing info)
Cascade Alpine Guide (Vol. 1) All routes(detailed climbing info)
Selected Climbs in the Cascades South Rib, Mazama Glacier(climbing info)
Selected Climbs in the Cascades (Vol. 2) North Ridge, Lava Glacier(detailed climbing info)
Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes All major routes(brief climbing info)

More photos, routes, links, references, etc. coming soon...
Please contact me with any suggestions, additions, or corrections.

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Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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