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2009 Vacation - Hardrock 100

Matt Mahoney's 2009 Vacation - Part 4 - Mt. Adams

On Sat. June 27 I climbed Mt. Adams, 13941 ft. I camped at the Willow Creek trailhead at 8880 ft in Crestone and started up the trail at 5:50 AM. My original plan was to climb Kit Carson. Dave "Hoot" Gibson was also camping there and had done all the 14ers and was now working on the centennials. He started about 10 minutes later.

The trail was good until the first obstacle, this raging waterfall that I had to cross. I didn't realize the trail went across and scrambled around lost for about 15 minutes and when I got back, Dave had caught up.

Crossing the stream. (Photo by David Gibson)

Dave crossed in the wide spot near the bottom of this photo with the help of poles to keep from getting knocked over. The water was waist deep and just above freezing. He loaned me his poles but I found it easier to climb just above the logs and cross there. The logs kept me from being washed downstream.

I had already climbed Kit Carson so I decided to climb Adams with Dave instead. The trails split at Willow Lake (11,564 ft, below). It turns left to Adams, or around the lake and right to Challenger and Kit Carson.

High basin above Willow Lake. 4 peaks in the far range are Crestone Peak, Columbia Point, Kit Carson, and Challenger. There is no real trail above treeline, just a grunt climb up tundra and rocks on a 50% grade.

Climbing onto the west ridge (class 2+).

(Photo by David Gibson)

Unnamed 13564 behind Dave.

Mt. Adams from the west ridge.

The first major obstacle on the ridge is this exposed class 3 gendarme at 13,700 ft. A fall to the left would be fatal.

After this knob, the difficulties increased and we turned back to look for an easier route. I went back over the knob again (above). Dave ended up with a more difficult descent below this point.

Left to right: Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Columbia Point, Kit Carson, Challenger.

Approach to summit. (Photo by David Gibson)

Dave on the summit. The last few hundred feet to the summit was class 3 scrambling. The climb took about 4 1/2 hours.

Me on the summit.

Us on the summit. (Photo by David Gibson)

Descending from summit. (Photo by David Gibson)

(Photo by David Gibson)

This snowfield is not steep if you stay on the ridge. Otherwise it is a long way down. (Photo by David Gibson)

Descending the Willow Creek trail offered spectacular views of the fearsome west ridge of the Kit Carson massif.

Our destination, the San Luis Valley.

The trail was wet and muddy.

Further down the Kit Carson massif west ridge.

I was dreading the initial water crossing but by the time we returned the water flow had decreased to the point where we could cross on the logs and stay dry. We returned to the trailhead at 2:20 PM, a total of 8 1/2 hours.

After the climb I ate in Crestone, a strange dish I can't remember the name of. Everyone in the town is into natural, organic, and vegan food. Then I returned to the sand dunes. I got a free permit to backpack and camp on the dunes over the first ridge. I took my tent, sleeping bag, some warm clothes and water over the dune line, about 1.5 miles and 500 ft climb on soft sand. It was very windy so I had to find a low spot in the dunes so my tent wouldn't collapse. But by dark the winds were calm. In the morning I broke camp, walked back to my car (about 40 minutes) and ate breakfast.

To part 5