Femme Beckey Expedition: May 16th-June 8th, 2023
Written by: Miriam Caron, July 2023
Expedition Members: Lizzie Wenger, Miriam Caron, Sierra Smith, & Ella Meyer
Mountain Three: Mt Adams via the South Side, May 24th
We arrived at Mt. Adams ranger station on May 22nd to pick up our climbing permits. There we were also informed that our intended route of the Mazama glacier was closed because it is on the Yakima Indian Reservation. So far that year the confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation had not opened the area up for recreational access. We yet again had to change course and instead planned to climb Mt. Adams via the standard South Side route.
We had been warned of rough roads leading up to the trailhead but when we arrived at the lower Morris Creek campground, we found that the gate to the higher Cold Springs campground was open. We foolishly kept driving in an attempt to cut the mileage of hiking the forest service road.
Less than a mile up the road, our gear filled Subaru Forester was high centered and stuck in the snow. We spent from 4pm to 9pm trying everything from pushing to digging to laying logs down behind the tires to create traction; but all we succeeded in doing was getting one wheel submerged in mud and the rest of the tires still lifted, spinning in place. We admitted defeat and set up camp on the snowbank besides our car. The only thing that cheered us up that night was an episode of Queer Eye’s newest season we had downloaded on Lizzie’s phone before we lost service.
Camp beside our stuck car
The next morning after one last attempt at digging ourselves out we decided to give the forest service a call. We phoned the rangers and began a game of phone tag to try to plan a tow out of the now slushy snow and mud. Once we finally managed to talk to someone at the ranger station, they told us our best bet was to call the local grocery store in Trout Lake. When we called the Trout Lake Grocery Store, they gave us the number of a local named Gary and told us “he pulls people out” before wishing us luck and hanging up.
After a surprisingly short chat with Gary, our savior arrived in about twenty minutes in his giant Ford F-250 Super Duty with a hauling rig that looked like it could pull apart a building. Gary was a small but strong retired forest service ranger sporting well used denim overalls and a clean white shirt. About fifty hipsters in Portland would have lined up around the block to cop his perfectly worn but clean look. While he hauled our car out with ease, he told us that last year he pulled 36 cars out of the snow and mud on the same road to Mt. Adams. This soothed our bruised egos.
Our adventure wagon being saved
Since we had lost a whole day due to our stuck car – and our new route was significantly easier than our intended route – we decided to climb all 18 miles and 7,000 ft. of elevation up to the peak of Mt. Adams in one day. On May 24th we had yet another alpine start, setting out around 5am and summiting around 2pm in a complete white out.
Lizzie in the white out
Lizzie making a pride rainbow with Gay Bacon (aka sour strips), our favorite climbing snack
On our way up we were treated to amazing views of Mt Hood and Mt. St. Helens. But because of our white out summit, we were robbed of a Mt. Rainier sighting. On our way down we did a legendary 2,000 ft of glissading down from the false summit to the Lunch Counter flats. Then we carried on on foot to descend the eight miles back down to Morris Creek campground where our Subaru was waiting for us.
Lizzie emerging from the 2,000ft glisade in the white out
View of Mt. Hood
Miriam the morning after the climb
Stay tuned for part 5 of the Femme Beckey Adventure: A summit of Mt. Rainier!