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50 year anniversary climb of Mount Adams

By on November 30, 2016 in Articles, Outdoor Fun, Sports & Recreation with 0 Comments

Dave Jaecks and his granddaughter, Anna, at the summit of Mount Adams.

By Dave Jaecks

Fifty years ago — in August of 1966 — I was recently arrived in Washington and a total neophyte in mountaineering. So when fellow UW medical resident Karl Hammermeister suggested that I join him and his brother Dale in a climb up Mount Adams, I jumped at the chance.

My first summit: Exciting! All went well on that trip and also, for the most part, on all the many subsequent climbs on rock, snow or ice in the ensuing half century.

As the golden anniversary approached, my granddaughter Anna, was keen to accompany me and ascend her first volcano. So encouraged by a forecast of perfect weather we set out on Aug. 8, driving to the parking lot and hiking up a few hundred feet to camp near the junction of the Round the Mountain Trail amid the remnants of an old burn and late summer flowers.

The trail up from there was much better defined than I remembered from 1966 and ambitious climbers had built numerous rock wall wind breaks at flat spots along the way.

True to the forecast, we experienced clear skies and only light zephyrs even at the summit.

In true alpine style, we got up in the dark of night and started upward well before dawn. The Perseid meteor shower provided streaks of light every 30 seconds or so, although I was hunched over looking more at my crampon straps than at the spectacle in the heavens.

Dawn slowly illuminated the slope as we struggled up the crescendo slope to the false summit (at least one of us was struggling).

The traverse to the true summit and the final ascent went smoothly if slowly and we arrived at the snow-filled remnants of the ruined lookout cabin that was unwisely located on Adams summit decades ago.

Of course I shamelessly announced to all fellow summiteers that I was on my 50th anniversary climb and that I was accompanied by my granddaughter, who was soon to enroll as a freshman at Dartmouth College. (These old codgers can be such bores.)

The descent featured fun glissades and the trails down featured lots of small rounded rocks that annoyingly rolled out from under my feet multiple times.

After 13 hours total, we were back at the car and glad for it. In short, it was the geographic and emotional highlight of my summer.

Dave Jaecks was born and raised in the flat land of Wisconsin, moved to Washington in 1966 to complete his medical training and immediately developed an enduring enchantment with  mountains and wilderness. 

Anna was born in Seattle and from an early age has had a love for outdoor adventures (many with her grandfather) and is currently a first year student at Dartmouth College.

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