Mount Adams South Climb Trail

HARD 96 reviews
#1 of 5 trails in

Mount Adams South Climb Trail is a 11.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Trout Lake, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
11.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6,732 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

horseback riding

skiing

snowshoeing

forest

views

wild flowers

rocky

snow

no shade

Climb one of the Cascade giants in Washington State for a fantastic ski or board down over 6000 vertical feet. Mt. Adams is one of the favorite volcanoes in the Cascade Range for those want to summit one of the bigger mountains of in Washington and ski down from the top. Due to its moderately sloped south face, it offers an outstanding ski run from the summit at 12276 ft to the snow's end at 6-7000 ft depending on the timing of the tour. One caution: this is a real mountain. Despite its low terrain hazard risks of the south approach, there have been a number of injured and lost climbers on this route. The weather can turn quickly as on any major peak and climbers must be prepared to stay out overnight in some form of protection. Many skiers with a good deal of endurance will do this climb in a single long day, but often travel very light and consequently are gambling on good weather. This hike is suggested as a two day climb - to allow for more skiing and also to provide a cushion should the weather or snow conditions turn sour. The snow varies from frozen crust to perfect summer corn depending on your timing and fortune. Via Cold Springs and South Spur This is a challenging climb up a 12,000 foot volcano in southern Washington. You'll climb close to 7,000 feet for this ski descent. When you get up to the base of the glacier it will look like a highway of climbers in spring and summer months. Hope for good snow as the descent is fantastic. Beware - there is a false summit so be prepared to be disappointed as you crest what you think is the top, only to have to hike another half mile or so. When you ski down get some speed from the true top and you might be able to make it partly up the false summit.

3 days ago

Hard rating is accurate. Most of this climb is sans trail, rather, you just follow cairns with wood posts to guide you up through the volcanic scree to the South Face approach. Did this on a Mon/Tue and it was still fairly crowded, I can’t imagine a weekend crowd. The glissade chutes are an absolute blast and cut your decent time significantly!

4 days ago

We had a bluebird day (7/11/18). All my pictures just won't do justice for the amazing views we had.

hiking
17 days ago

This trail is typically done in two days. Most people camp too early. I strongly suggest camping on your left-hand side of Lunch Counter right before the big push up. However, the right side did have a running stream from snow melt. All camp spots have access to snow for melting drinkable water. The camp spots are typically parapets made of lava rock with sandy floors. They make excellent wind breaks. We did this the last two days of July and I brought way too many warming layers. It was maybe 40°F on lunch counter and 60°+ in our 2-person summer lightweight. I suppose you should always prepare for a cold snap tho. Bring crampons and axe. The glissading chutes are deep and although steep, they are safe to slide down and I’ve been told on good years you can slide down all the way from the false summit to Lunch Counter. Bring a waterproof layer for glissading. Also, some snow gators would have been helpful. My wife’s feet remained dry with the gators, mine were soaked. Bring extra socks and leave another pair in the car. There was a large mountain sheep that gets within arms reach that apparently lives around Lunch Counter. The smoke from all the fires blocked our views of Hood, St. Helens, Rainier and others, but we could kind of make out the shapes. The top was super windy and cold. Bring some warm layers in daypack for the last ascent. I suggest snow gloves.

The Rangers’ at the ranger station were not very helpful. They warned of a massive thunderstorm when multiple websites we checked had “sunny w/ heat” advisory. I asked where she got her information which she seemed to take as a challenge, and said “NOAA is the only one you can trust for mountain climbing. Also you can’t see anything with the fires anyway.” SASSY! NOAA confirmed a heat advisory. We took her warning with skepticism and checked it out for ourselves. It was super sunny both days. I’m really just ranting at this point, but she would say things like, “conditions at altitude change in an instant,” and “It gets dark under those clouds real quick,” but when asked, she admitted she had not been up there and had no intention of climbing a mountain.

All things considered, this was a great climb. Will do again.

hiking
19 days ago

Hiked a car to car in 10.5hrs this Saturday, 7/28, started at 6am, back to the car at 4:30pm. 7hr ascent, 3.5hr descent. Crampons not needed but still recommended (I did see a lot of people using cleats though) Plenty of running water on the mountain. Summited at 1pm and peak was totally covered in clouds.. Glissading was very painful due to ice and hard to slow down. There were hundreds of people hiking on Saturday yet still managed to find a parking spot right at trail entrance #183. First time on Adams and was very fun despite cloudy peak and icy slide down!

hiking
19 days ago

This trail is typically done in two days. Most people camp too early. I strongly suggest camping on your left-hand side of Lunch Counter right before the big push up. However, the right side did have a running stream from snow melt. All camp spots have access to snow for melting drinkable water. The camp spots are typically parapets made of lava rock with sandy floors. They make excellent wind breaks. We did this the last two days of July and I brought way too many warming layers. It was maybe 40°F on lunch counter and 60°+ in our 2-person summer lightweight. I suppose you should always prepare for a cold snap tho. Bring crampons and axe. The glissading chutes are deep and although steep, they are safe to slide down and I’ve been told on good years you can slide down all the way from the false summit to Lunch Counter. Bring a waterproof layer for glissading. Also, some snow gators would have been helpful. My wife’s feet remained dry with the gators, mine were soaked. Bring extra socks and leave another pair in the car. There was a large mountain sheep that gets within arms reach that apparently lives around Lunch Counter. The smoke from all the fires blocked our views of Hood, St. Helens, Rainier and others, but we could kind of make out the shapes. The top was super windy and cold. Bring some warm layers in daypack for the last ascent. I suggest snow gloves.

The Rangers’ at the ranger station were not very helpful. They warned of a massive thunderstorm when multiple websites we checked had “sunny w/ heat advisory.” I asked where she got her information which she took as a challenge, and she said “NOAA is the only one you can trust for mountain climbing. Also you can’t seem anything with the fires anyway.” SASSY. NOAA confirmed a heat advisory. We took the warning with skepticism and checked it out for ourselves. It was super sunny both days. I’m really just ranting at this point, but she would say things like, “conditions at altitude change in an instant,” and “It gets dark under those clouds real quick,” but when asked, she admitted she had not been up there and had no intention of climbing a mountain.

All things considered, this was a great climb. Will do again.

hiking
19 days ago

Don’t underestimate Mount Hood. Lunch Counter is 100% snow feee with water. Glissade down was difficult do to icy hard chutes . . We summited at 8:30am.Hard to beat a sunrise at elevation . . Mountain shadow, etc . . But the downside this time of year is the iffy glissade down . . If you want an awesome glissade . . I would recommend a summit time around 11am. I would recommend crampons . . But spikes are probably good enough . . I just wouldn’t take the chance. Summit shack is just starting to come out. Summit weather at 8:30am was puuurfect . .zero wind, blue skies, and 5 Mountains were out: Rainier, Helens, Hood, Jefferson and 3 Sisters.

backpacking
30 days ago

Hiked this on 7/13. Did an overnight camp at lunch counter. Nothing really to add to the reviews already stated but I did want to let people know that the snow melting at lunch counter did create some running water. We weren’t sure and ended up filling up at Morrison Creek and carrying a lot of unneeded weight up to lunch counter. Check in with Forest Ranger when you get the permit to see how high up the running water is.

Other than that, amazing experience and great views. It was almost 100 degrees in Trout Lake, but still only 20-30F with wind chill on summit so make sure to bring layers.

hiking
1 month ago

Did it Car to Car, which made for 12.5 hours if hiking. A beautiful hike, yet it was hard for us to find any trail up the snow when the trail ended, and I don't know if we were looking in the wrong spot or if there was no trail at all.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail was amazing! We left the Trailhead at noon, arrived at Lunch Counter around 4. Setup camp in a very nice spot to watch a beautiful sunset! The wind was very lite and the sky was gorgeous! We headed for Pikers Peak around 6:30, made it to the summit before noon. The weather was beautiful with a lite wind on the summit. We glissaded most of the way back down to Lunch Counter. We broke camp and made it back to the trailhead around 5:30. Had an amazing hike!

John

hiking
1 month ago

On June 26th we set off at 05:30 for one long day. We made the summit around 12noon. The climb was good and steady. We had crampons for the hard snow and I’m glad. Made the climb easier. The sky was crystal clear, blue and beautiful. The winds were relatively calm. The summit view was absolutely outstanding!!! The glissading was SO fun!!! We did the entire trip in one day. Excellent mountain!

hiking
1 month ago

we started our hike mid-day after checking into the range station the road to the trail head is a nice drive and snow free. I made a video of our hike, it shows conditions and what to expect, you can find it here: https://youtu.be/AZKL70HpL3M
The trail from the trail-head to Lunch Counter was very well marked both with a solid boot pack and with trail markers eventually we ended putting on our crampons for a short steep section and left them on until we arrived at lunch counter, I would say they are recommended but it can be completed without them. We set up camp at lunch Counter right at the base of Pikers Peak. There is still alot of snow at Lunch Counter however there are tons of spots that are snow free. We started our push up Pikers at around 3:30am there was clear skies and the snow was solid. we took our time going up and arrived at the summit around 8:30am. The trail was nice all the way to the base of the true summit where people took there own routes to the summit I would exercise caution in this section. overall It was a great hike with amazing views check out my experience at: https://youtu.be/AZKL70HpL3M

Be safe out there,
NW Adventures

1 month ago

3 months ago

Just returned from climbing Mt. Adams It was absolutely a brutal climb with challenging weather to braking trail in one ft of fresh snow at the false summit is not fun.
On 12:15 pm April 28 we were the only climbers on false summit and on the entire Mt Adams, myself and my friend Carlie.
Since there where no any other foot steps or previous signs that any one has summited before. We decided to stop there.
Also hiking to South Camp is 5 miles from the last location where you can drive.
It rain, snow and freezes, don’t underestimate Mt Adams.
Adams has several saddle backs around 3 of them one in particular has 1.000 ft dropping approximately which will make you and break you.
Go conquer...respect the mountain. Be safe always leave to tell the story.

backpacking
3 months ago

Went this past weekend to attempt summit. Had a late start and a 6 mile walk to the trail head where we set up camp for the night and decided to call it quits the next morning and will return to attempt the summit when the road is clear. Still spectacular views and a fun time camping out at the base. Good practice hike. If you want to attempt it with the road still snowed over, snow shoes will help you immensely, however crampons will do fine too.

hiking
9 months ago

Amazing climb, watch weather reports for snow later in the season. We climbed on 9/22 and had 2-3 feet of fresh snow in areas.

10 months ago

I did a summit on 8/24 and it was perfect weather for the opportunity. It was chilly which meant the ice stuck better as opposed to climbing up slush, but it was a blue sky, bright sun kinda day. I started the climb at 5am after sleeping in my car at the trailhead. I'm a pretty experienced hiker and occasional climber, but this was my first mountaineering experience. I successfully did it solo as no ropes were needed, but did have to use my ice axe near the top of Piker's Peak to self arrest. The last steep section to that false summit was very tough, so you need positive mental stamina to complete that, or an encouraging partner. After the Piker's Peak (false summit), it's an easy ridge walk and then 20 minutes of switchbacks to the summit.
Reaching that summit is worth every bit of the tough climb up. I summited around 1:30 and would have easily finished the climb by 5, but got lost on the way down since I wasn't paying attention (oops) so didn't get to my car until 9pm.
By far the biggest obstacle was making it from Lunch Counter to Piker's Peak. It isn't far, but it's tough, and you'll need a good pace and some rest stops. To give you an idea, I approached the steep slope of Piker's climb at 10:30am but didn't get to Piker's Peak until 1pm...and it's only 1/4 mile.
Be up for the challenge and be up for a very rewarding experience.

11 months ago

Loved it! Summited on 8/20/17 and while it was really difficult, it was also wonderful. Ice axe and crampons are necessary (also, know how to self arrest in case of a slip and fall. There are plenty of places around 8,200 ft that give you a chance to practice if needed.) It's a tough climb if you're only in decent to good shape, but still totally worth it.

11 months ago

Did a 2 day summit starting on 8/19. Amazing sunset views against Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. Crystal clear views of the milky way and the meteor shower as well. Crampons and ice axe very highly recommended. Glisading was getting pretty spotty. Made it up to the trail head in my miata with coilovers but it wasn't very fun :p. Overall a great first time summit.

hiking
Friday, August 11, 2017

I started the hike at 3AM and it took me about 3 Hours to get to the lunch counter. There were a good amount of people camping and there's definitely a good amount of snow left. I was up with microspikes but didn't summit. I would suggest using crampons to summit, also after 9ish the snow started to become slush so be careful.

hiking
Sunday, October 09, 2016

I did this hike on September 10th. The drive up to the trailhead was sketchy but not horrible. I made it up in a Honda Civic. The weather was perfect and there wasn't too many people on the trail. The hike up to Lunch Counter took about 4 hours and wasn't too difficult. It was actually easier and more pleasant than I thought it would be.

We camped up at LC and watched the sunset, which was breathtaking. It got very cold and windy at night but the whiskey helped warm us up. I have never seen so many stars in my life. It was so surreal. I definitely want to go back and camp again- I highly recommend it!

We left our tent and some of our stuff and headed up for the summit the next morning. From there on, we were hiking on snow with our crampons. It was long and grueling. I forgot to pack my sunblock which was a huge mistake. I ended up with bad sunburn on my face. While hiking up the steep snowfields, there was a lot of steam coming out of the mountain. So much, that it blocked the sun a few times. It was such an amazing thing to see.

Once we got to the false summit, I saw how much further up we had to go, and I actually wanted to turn back. Luckily, my friend convinced me to keep going. It actually looks a lot worse than it really is. That last hill didn't take long at all and I made it to the summit. The view from the summit was pretty cool, but I've seen better ;) Actually it didn't all sink in until the next day, and it get like such a great accomplishment.

When we made our descent down the snowfields, we used the glissade chutes, which were SUPER icy. I lost my ice axe and had to use my trekking poles. It was super scary, but we saved so much time coming down. We broke down the tent and made our way back down.

I think all together it took us 14 or 15 hours. I highly recommend this climb. It was the most memorable mountain adventure I've ever had!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bucket list item... check. Summited with dear friend on a Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

great experience for our first mountaineering mountain. had equipment problems at the lunch counter and had to call it the next morning. overall great place to practice basic techniques. will definitely make another trip to go.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Love the snow fields.

hiking
Monday, July 25, 2016

Incredible! The sunrise from lunch counter is worth the entire trip! Challenging and probably a good idea to go with someone who is experienced your first time.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Great climb with great views. The Shute from the false summit will take you almost all the way back down to lunch counter in one slide. Epic sliding for close to 1000 feet!

Bring your crampons, poles, and an axe!

hiking
Sunday, February 21, 2016

What a great climb! We hiked up to Lunch Counter and went to bed around 3pm. We left at 3am for the summit. Got there around 9:30. It was much more fun glacading down than it was hiking up.

hiking
Monday, August 03, 2015

I made it up to just below Piker's Peak, but the rest of my group made the summit Sunday morning. We brought our dog, and on the approach she tore up her front pads so we took shifts dog-sitting at our camp at Lunch Counter. I went up solo to take sunset photos, and the rest of the group summited the next morning.

The weather was warm, and all-in-all it was a beautiful day and we had an absolute blast. I tracked 4.3 miles from Cold Springs to Lunch Counter, and we estimate another 2 miles to the summit from there so the 13.6 miles listed in the trail description seems accurate. The hike gets harder and harder until the false summit at 11,657.

We all had YakTrax Ice-Trekkers, and those did fine but in colder weather / harder snow and ice, full crampons would be necessary. Ice-axes were the same idea--we could have got by without them but in other conditions they would be vital.

There's effectively zero shade, so a spare tarp or rain-fly might be worth the weight. Bring lots of sunscreen, extra batteries for headlamps and cameras, and know how to pace yourself.

It's a great climb!!

hiking
Monday, June 15, 2015

This was a great climb! I went with a group of 5 and we stayed at lunch counter on a Friday night and then all of us made the summit Saturday morning. It was a strenuous climb and the weather was very cold and windy, but we were blessed with clear skies and great views! We left lunch counter at 7:00am and made summit around 9:30am. Winds were about 20-30mph most of the way up, and I'd guess 40+ on the summit. We didn't stay at the summit for very long because it was very cold up on top. Crampons and ice axe definitely required as we faced steep icy slopes on the way up, and part way down. The snow had softened up enough that we were able to glissade part way down which was great! All in all a great hike/climb, and I would definitely recommend!

hiking
Sunday, September 01, 2013

A group from our church, I-90 Community Church, met weekly during the spring and early summer for training hikes in the local area with weighted packs. For many of us it was our first mountain climbing experience but several of the leaders had summited Rainier, Baker etc multiple times, so we were in good hands.

We hiked to Lunch Counter on Friday 7/12/2013 and set up camp to spend the night. It was cold but we were warm enough in our sleep cell sleeping bags.

Everyone in the group made it to the summit the next day. The weather couldn't have been better (no wind) and the views were incredible. Crampons and Ice Axes are a must and so is training. It was a hard hike but doable with preparation. After making it to the summit we rested, snacked took photos and then began glissading back to LC to break camp and hike back to the cars parked at the trailhead. We topped the trip off with burgers and beer at the Full Sail Brewery in Hood River.

It was an incredible experience over all and I'm glad I did it.

The group is talking about climbing Baker next summer.

hiking
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summited on 08/25/2013 we camped the night before 1000 feet below the lunch counter. We started our accent around 3:30 AM and summited at 9 AM. The weather was decent at 9000 feet but started to get bad around 10000 feet. On the summit the wind chill was 5 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was 40-50 MPH. We could not see more then 20 feet on the summit. But the real mountain experience was amazing! We had the gear to battle severe winter weather and had to use ALL of it. 4 layers on. You'll be sore and tired the next day but it is sooo worth it. You should have an Ice axe, cramp ons, and gear to deal with temperatures from 0-70 the weather changes very fast!

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