by Dave Jaecks
50 years is but a blink in the life of a mountain, even a volcano, but it is a big chunk in the earthly span of a mortal man. 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 Mt. 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 the 8th of August 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 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 (a 2020) 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.