Words, Photos and Video by Paul Stanley
With the incredible stretch of warm, dry weather we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest, the volcano shredding has been firing in recent weeks. In our last blogpost we highlighted three volcanoes we went splitboarding on lately. One of them being Mt. Adams (12,280’/3,743 m). The trip we had on Mt. Adams was one worth talking a little more about.
Mike, Russman and myself (Paul) made the climb up Mt. Adams with our friends Theresa, Adam and Saign. Our goal was not exactly to just climb the volcano, but also to go get a little rowdy and shred a massive, steep and highly exposed line off the top (the red line in the first photo). I mean, climbing UP a volcano is fun and all, but really it’s the ride down that gets us jazzed. So we decided to go for it, a short two-day mission fending off relentless mosquitos and hiking for miles with the heaviest pack you’ve ever packed to go ride an epic line. It feels silly to complain about little things like pack weight and mosquitos when you know how sweet it’s going to be coming down this incredible face that you get to look at all the way into camp. After hiking for a little while on dusty trails, crossing a couple creeks with our heavy packs, and mosquito ravaged skin, we made it to a meadow to set up camp for the night. We knew the sunset was going to be nice, but I don’t think any of us knew it was going to be as good as it was. Some high clouds made for a much more interesting sky and turned the mountains from white to pink. An awesome way to eat dinner, relax and get ready for bed before the early start up the mountain the next morning.
We woke up to clear skies, perfect temps and a giant mountain in plain sight that we had to scramble up first before getting gnarly. The climb up was pretty interesting as we started out on skins and reached the ridge where we had to then throw the boards and skis on the packs and scramble for a while on foot. Toward the last 1500 feet we were able to hop back on the skins and make our way toward the top. We took some time to get a group photo, eat a little snack, drink some water, and then it was time to make our way back down.
Dropping into the beginning of the line you go through some relatively low angle hippy turns but the whole time you’re turning you know that what’s ahead of you is what’ll make you piss yourself. We got on top of the roll and regrouped for a minute to discuss our plans and one by one we made our way down the main headwall. Going over the roll is quite interesting, vertigo definitely sets in right as you take a look down. We had great communication from Adam and Saign as they made their way down before the rest of us and it sounded like the snow was mostly soft with a few spots of firm snow to mitigate. Russell and Theresa made their way down soon after and looked smooth, conservative and clean. For Theresa, Mike and I, it was our first time ever riding anything like this so I think all of us were a little gripped up top. I can personally say I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. For a few minutes I considered climbing out and finding a different route down but something snapped me out of that decision and I had to really remind myself that I was capable of riding this line. With a few deep breaths I crept out onto the headwall and just stood on my board for one more minute before making that first hop turn. Committing to that first turn on the main headwall is the hardest part, right away I realized that I was just snowboarding and everything was going to be alright. The snow couldn’t have been much better, smooth edgeable corn that didn’t really move a whole lot. Slough and wet slides are always a concern on a steep line like that but the snow wasn’t moving as much as I thought it would so I continued to let ‘er rip. I didn’t realize it until I was off the line but in the middle it actually gets a tad bit steeper to make things a little more interesting. Our exit wasn’t too bad hopping over the massive crevasses and getting across snow bridges to get out. Always a little erie jumping over a big crevasse but the gaps were short and manageable. Mike, also scared out of his mind, made his way down last after waiting for the rest of us to make it down safely and looked conservative and smooth. All six of us got down the line safely and the stoke was high! Some of us couldn’t believe what we had just rode. The whole line is exposed to massive wide-open crevasses below you, so one miscue on a turn and you’re just hoping you can self arrest with your ice tools in hand(s). Although, sometimes to get over those fears you just have got to remind yourself that its just another day on the slopes, whether you’re skiing or snowboarding.
Huge thank you to Russman, Adam and Saign for the guidance, it was extremely helpful and I don’t know if the rest of us would have made it down that line safely without any of you. Cheers to Mike and Theresa for coming along for the incredible ride as well. Awesome trip!
Here’s a little video I threw together from my POV footage of the line: