Story Captured by Brett Banka
Our Peaks of Life team kicked-off the 2018 climbing season with our first successful summit of the year to the top of Mount Adams at 12,276’ on May 19-20th! We raised over $4,000 for the Seattle Children’s uncompensated care fund to support children and their families undergoing care at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
This year’s Mount Adams team was comprised of an incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic group of climbers from all areas of the Pacific Northwest. The climb began with the rendezvous of all climbers at the South Climb trailhead at roughly 5,500’ elevation near the base of Mount Adams. Here our climbers arrived on this early Saturday morning after traveling from the surrounding areas of Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland to convene for this all-weekend expedition.
After completing all of our gear and equipment checks, we set off on snowshoes, skis and split boards at the first sight of snow. Snow levels began before the trailhead at around 5,000 feet. The trek began at a steady pace through the sparsely wooded, snow-covered trail amongst the charred remains of the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire. While aiming toward the Crescent Ridge route just below the Crescent Glacier, we captured our first glimpse on the summit through the dissipating cloud cover. After reaching the Crescent Ridge, we arrived to enjoy sweeping, unobstructed views of the South aspect of Mount Adams rising above. Just within sight, we viewed rocky outcroppings striated in the snowfield curiously named Lunch Counter, where we would be setting up camp for the night. As the climb endured, we were treated with patches of sunlight breaking through the mid-mountain cloud cover to capture views of the landscape of the Mount Adams Wilderness below.
After nearly 5 hours of steady snow travel and traversing up steeper and steeper sections of the snowfield, we arrived at the wide, expansive section of Lunch Counter at nearly 9,400’ to set up camp. Once finished setting up our tents and taking a much-needed break from the first leg of the trip, we gathered in a communal kitchen area crafted with a deceitfully spacious tent and comfortable snow benches to convene for a dinner of dehydrated delights.
Here, our team enjoyed the close confines and warmth of the ‘kitchen’ with multiple portable backpacking stoves burning at full force to melt snow to supply our drinking water for the remainder of the trip. While we consumed ample pre-prepared meals to refuel for the next day, our team enjoyed each other’s company and swapped summit stories of climbs past.
As the late May sun approached the horizon of the West shoulder of Mount Adams, the temperatures began to drop and a thick layer of cloud and fog began to engulf our camp creating an illusive dusk. With the diminishing weather and decreasing day light, we decided to wrap up dinner and take refuge to our tents. Although it was only 7PM at this time, we began to prepare for bed to get adequate rest for our alpine start in the morning at the early sunrise hour. It was perfect timing for bed, and not long after we climbed into our below zero’ rated sleeping bags, the soft sounds of snoring could be heard from our surrounding neighbors. Approaching 8PM, a breach of light hit our tents as if the sun had risen from thin air. Peeping out from the warm confines of our alpine shelters, we captured the makings of a breathtaking Mount Adams sunset.
Not long after sunset, we retreated back into our warm tents to capture some much-needed rest for summit day the following morning. At dawn break, we gathered with our gear to begin the reach for the summit. We set off from camp at roughly 5AM with crampons at our feet and ice axes in hand. We headed up the broad snowfield chasing the breaching sunrise at the horizon directly ahead. With the summit hidden just above the clouds, we began our steps upward and onward through the impenetrable mountain fog.
The team traveled at a steady pace gaining steeper elevation as the slopes pitched upwards toward Piker’s Peak at 11,657’. We followed the boot pack straight up the steepest section of the climb taking on a single file track.
We reached the false summit of Piker’s Peak and broke above the relentless cloud banks and captured our first sight of the summit.
With an initial dodgy weather report for the weekend, we were elated to lay eyes on the summit with clear blue skies above. We pushed on for our final stretch to the summit after a short break fueled by peanut butter M&M’s washed down with the remaining swigs of our snow melt water supply. We were headed for the top.
Our team reached the summit side-by-side and raised the Peaks of Life banner for a colorful pose of climbers, whom many had just met the day before and had become well acquainted climbing partners and friends by summits reach. On the summit, we enjoyed the sweeping views of the surrounding Cascades including Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainier.
Brooke Jarvie, Managing Director of Peaks of Life, notes:
We made summit around 9:30 – our team crushed it and were an hour faster than we had budgeted for!
A moment of congratulations was awarded to the team as we realized that we had embarked on this climb for “More than a summit” and raised over $4,000 for the Seattle Children’s uncompensated care fund to support health care for the patients and families receiving care at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Following the summit, we began our journeys back home toward camp via skis, splitboard, and glissade. After reaching the base of the mountain, we returned fulfilled with an extraordinary weekend of climbing, with an extraordinary group of climbers, all for an extraordinary cause.
United by a beautiful cause and love for the mountains, our team of climbers formed a unique bond on this trip. Matt Leaman, a Peaks of Life Climber on our Mount Adams trip comments on his blog:
I still do not know how or where I found the organization, but I was immediately inspired to apply for their Mount Adams climb in May. A few weeks later, my application was accepted, so it was time to raise some money and continue my training! It was pretty easy to raise the money, because people are super willing to give a little of their hard earned money to help pay for children's medical bills. It's too bad that we live in a world/country where families can go bankrupt, because their kid has a disease, and I was proud to help raise a little to help these families.
To read a trip report from Matt's perspective, please see his full blog entry “Climbing for a Cause” here!
Here's to Climbing for More Than A Summit!
SPECIAL THANKS to our blog guest author of the month, Brett Banka, who shares: "Being new to the Pacific Northwest, I was lucky to be introduced to Peaks of Life through a series of fortunate events and learn about their bold endeavor to support children and their families through the Seattle Children’s uncompensated health care initiative. Inspired to do more, it’s my aspiration to contribute to Peaks of Life in supporting their efforts to raise funds and spread awareness for this great cause. I’m thrilled to be a part of Peaks of Life in reach for More than a Summit!" You can find Brett on social media alongside his gorgeous photos of adventures in the Pacific Northwest at @brettbanka.