Adams: Lewis/Adams moraine

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Adams: Lewis/Adams moraine

Post by Chip Down » November 4th, 2020, 9:25 pm

A couple weeks ago I reported on a hike up Lewis River to its headwaters. It was cloudy, and new snow blanketed the ground, so basically what I saw all day was shades of gray. Even so, I felt like I got the gist of it, so I didn't think a return was likely soon. I changed my mind recently when I looked down on that valley from Pinnacle Glacier, after the snow had mostly melted. Wow! The moraine between Lewis and Adams is beautiful: broad, sandy, grassy, and sure to offer great views. I was tempted to take that route down, but I had a full day planned, so stuck with Plan A, and vowed to get back to the Lewis/Adams moraine ASAP, before the next snow dump. November 1 was my opportunity.

Like my previous Lewis River hike, I started up the Divide Camp trail, arriving at PCT a bit before dawn. I turned right and headed SB on PCT. I watched for a good opportunity to head up the mountain in search of the moraine. Not too soon, as I knew the lower moraine, near PCT, was steep and crumbly. I wanted to find an easy access point.

About the time it started getting light, I saw a nice low point on the moraine, and headed up. I hit the crest at about the perfect spot: nice inviting terrain above, nothing of great interest below. A few weeks prior, I looked over at this moraine from the other side of the valley (across Adams Creek) and it looked like there was a series of parallel moraines. But no, it was an illusion created by the undulating crest. There's one well defined moraine between Adams Creek and Lewis River, although it is a bit sloppy and jumbled at the crest.

I was looking forward to views down into Lewis River canyon, but I also enjoyed looking down on Adams Creek, seeing what the canyon looked like w/o snow. Nice bonus.

My moraine abruptly narrowed, and then soon faded into the mantled glacier. I could have gone higher, but the route was no longer obvious, the views were deteriorating, and safety wasn't assured. I generally loathe routes that just fade out like that, but in this case I could clearly see my options, and none looked enticing. I didn't feel bad about calling it done.

I dropped into the Lewis Canyon, which put me right around my high point on the Lewis hike. It took a while to get my bearings and find the spot where I turned back previously. Naturally, it looked completely different with no snow or clouds.

Having completed the essence of the hike just a half hour after sunrise, I turned my attention to random exploring. I climbed out of the valley towards Pinnacle Glacier, struggling a bit due to not having traction or axe. I predicted I would top out at a dry tarn I visited not long ago, and I was right. The steep gully I was following was indeed the outflow from that tarn.

I poked around here and there, visited this and that, and started working my way down towards the parkland between Adams and Pinnacle. I followed the no-name creek between Lewis and Mutton. It was generally miserable, poor scenery and rugged rubble. I was happy to get out of there and down to the parkland.

Random wandering through the parkland took me to PCT, and back to Divide Camp.

A couple thoughts on climbing approaches:

1. This moraine seems to be a nearly ideal approach for Adams Glacier climbers. Although there's a wee bit of inefficient undulating, it's easy terrain, and I think it offers the best fast way to the glacier. Beckey advises Killen Creek trail, and others agree. That's fine for a North Ridge ascent, or one of the headwall routes, but Adams Glacier climbers generally start up the right side of the glacier. I think the Lewis/Adams moraine is superior, unless there's some complexities I overlooked on the lower glacier.

2. With all the exploring I've done around this area this year, I can't manage to reconstruct what approach I took for climbing the W and NW ridges to The Pinnacle many years ago. I have some vague memories, but I can't look at the mountain and figure out how I got onto those ridges. That bugs me.
Where I gained the moraine crest. Blue X's indicate Adams Creek. Yellow X's indicate an odd hump that I can't explain. It isn't hard enough to withstand a glacier, it's to small and symmetrical to be a newer terminal moraine, it couldn't have accumulated from rockfall off the moraines on either side. Hmm. Red X to left was my high point on a previous day after following Adams Creek up. Red X's on right indicate the route described in this report.
The broad sandy vegetated moraine crest.
Not a pretty picture, but documents how Adams Glacier spreads out after it leaves its confinement.
That glossy sculpted blue ceiling!
The creek I followed down. The rubble was brutal; I was grateful for these sandy stretches.
PCT is down in the forest. Getting there will be fun.
Parkland below Pinnacle Glacier.
What a relief to get on dirt.
Same theme as above.

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