Forums Trip Reports Mount Adams, NFNWR
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  • #568877
    russman
    689 Posts

    This past Monday, JimW, Buell, Hannah and myself climbed the North Ridge of Mt. Adams, and descended the North Face of the NW Ridge. I rode this route 4 years ago, and climbed it in alpine ice last summer, so I was well aware of the steepness, technicality, and exposure of this route. To say the least, “Noofner” is no cake walk. Even though I knew it well, once you commit to dropping into the giant glacial rollover, you can’t help but have a little bit of fear for your life.

    This type of snowboarding is an interesting thing… Everything has to be so calculated, so precise, and so perfect, otherwise you literally will die. In some strange way, that’s what makes it fun I guess. I lost nearly 4 nights of sleep going into this current trip, and even after the experience had come to a close, I find myself still processing the magnitude of the accomplishment.
    .
    In some strange way, I think I was able to achieve my own “ideal state” in snowboard mountaineering. Never in my life has my mind felt so sharp and on point, when even on firm snow on a 50+ degree rollover thousands of feet in the air, there was literally no way in hell I was going to be detached from that mountain. It was perfect…….

    Huge thanks to Hannah, Jim and Buell. You guys are incredible partners!

    [youtube:1022e5dm]Bpv_e_-iPY0[/youtube:1022e5dm]

    #596558
    swanny
    189 Posts

    they say you feel more alive when your scared…I feel more alive now that I watched that vid, great job!

    #596557
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Hey Russ, thanks for posting this up. I have been trying to express, for myself and the benefit of others, the mental/spiritual state, that difficult technical descents can bring about.
    But, such expression is hard to do. This video gives some approximation, at least for those who may have had similar experiences.
    The singularity of purpose, concentration, skills, and attention, over a period of time (and the accumulation of experience over years) brings about states which are so valuable, and so rare in the contemporary ordinary world.

    #596556
    UPGRAYEDD_2505
    127 Posts

    Good job. I always tell people that riding steeps is kinda like free-soloing, you’re on your own, hanging it out there. You have to be honest with yourself about your abilities and experience. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to ride that face in those firm conditions (of course if I was on top of it, looking down, I probably would go for it! and I’ve certainly misjudged how soft things turned out to be in the past). What time did you drop in? I always heard that that run was best done during a heat wave and really late in the day (after 4pm). Anyway, glad you found your “ideal state”! I’m sure it’s slightly different for all of us, but all of us can relate. It always stokes me out when other people are stoked out on their riding. :headbang:

    edit: 16 min is a little long for a POV lol 😉

    #596555
    russman
    689 Posts

    Borrows…

    TOTALLY. Its so hard to explain the experience to people.

    What you said about singularity of purpose, this is the entire experience for me. In the video, you can see just as I went over the roll at the top, that I discovered a change in snow condition from soft creamy corn, to this firmer, icier state. There was a few seconds when I looked back up at my track as I traversed below the rock outcropping, that I felt myself slipping a little too far into the fear state. Its such a damn fine line to “ride”… Because fear is what keeps you alive, and forces you into such a laser focus, but if you’re too far into it, it will paralyze you. I was up on the Edmonds Headwall on Mt. Rainier last summer, and this paralyzing fear really messed with my mind, and ability to ride the face. What you said about gaining more and more experience is also a critical thing; Because this time, when I felt that state creeping in, I was able to emotionally disconnect from that fear for a few seconds, which allowed me to become totally “robotic” about how to attack each turn. I knew that side-slipping the whole face wasn’t an option, as its just to much vertical. I also knew that I wanted to ride it in the best way I possibly could. So it was just investigating the slope one turn at a time, and before I knew it, I was through the crux.

    The other thing I realize, is that when you’re on a face like that in firm snow, all the years of snowboarding really start to kick in. No other type of place forces you to think about edge control to such precision. The ability to recognize how your edge is going to react to different textures of snow, bumps, how to manage descent speed, calculating the gravitational acceleration with each jump turn… I really feel that all the years of snowboarding have just been training!

    #596572
    russman
    689 Posts

    @upgrayedd_2505 wrote:

    Good job. I always tell people that riding steeps is kinda like free-soloing, you’re on your own, hanging it out there. You have to be honest with yourself about your abilities and experience. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to ride that face in those firm conditions (of course if I was on top of it, looking down, I probably would go for it! and I’ve certainly misjudged how soft things turned out to be in the past). What time did you drop in? I always heard that that run was best done during a heat wave and really late in the day (after 4pm). Anyway, glad you found your “ideal state”! I’m sure it’s slightly different for all of us, but all of us can relate. It always stokes me out when other people are stoked out on their riding. :headbang:

    edit: 16 min is a little long for a POV lol 😉

    Dude, for sure! Mentally and emotionally, its exactly like free soloing! LOOOL in fact I REALLY don’t recommend this type of riding for most people. I think that if I didn’t have the experience on steep terrain that I have, it really could have taken my life.

    A few weeks ago I was out on a couloir lap with 4 good friends. They are all strong riders, but only 2 of them have ridden terrain above 45 degrees in firm snow. The particular line wasn’t too exposed, but as I watched the 2 lesser experienced riders drop in, they each were washing out on their heelside turns, and had to repeatedly self arrest. It was fine for the terrain that we were on, as there was plenty of space to stop, and it wasn’t that steep, but on NFNWR in the conditions we just rode it, washing out on any single turn would have been fatal.

    On this trip, I think we pretty much nailed it… Its complicated though. We dropped from the top at 2:15pm, and the face proper would have softened a bit more if we let it go another hour or so. That being said, what you can’t see in the video is that the snow bridge over the crevasse actually collapsed partially under my board as I went over the crack. Lower down on the icefall crossing, any warmer and that crevasse might not have been crossable, and, rock fall would have started for the day. For that particular day, it all worked out well.

    As for the edit being 16 minutes… I realize this 🙂 What I really wanted to do was to leave most of the raw footage in there, and not have music drowning out the self talk, and sound of the slope. I didn’t want it to be a “2 minute sound bite” for the masses; In fact, if its too boring for the average person, I think this is a good thing. This type of riding is just so dangerous, that I wanted people to feel the exposure, and hear the mental process I went through. I strongly feel that the fewer people riding Noofner, the better. But that being said, its just so darn fun, I can’t help but share it! And…. I’m contributing to its increased knowledge just by posting…

    #596566
    buell
    534 Posts

    @upgrayedd_2505 wrote:

    Good job. I always tell people that riding steeps is kinda like free-soloing, you’re on your own, hanging it out there. You have to be honest with yourself about your abilities and experience. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to ride that face in those firm conditions (of course if I was on top of it, looking down, I probably would go for it! and I’ve certainly misjudged how soft things turned out to be in the past). What time did you drop in? I always heard that that run was best done during a heat wave and really late in the day (after 4pm). Anyway, glad you found your “ideal state”! I’m sure it’s slightly different for all of us, but all of us can relate. It always stokes me out when other people are stoked out on their riding. :headbang:

    edit: 16 min is a little long for a POV lol 😉

    Two skiers dropped it the day before at 1:30 on what appeared to be perfect snow. Our day was supposed to be warmer but our snow was definitely firmer.

    I definitely look forward to riding the line in softer conditions. It is a hard one to nail down because it keeps rolling over. You cannot just sit at the top and throw rocks on the snow to see how soft / firm it is. We could have waited at the top of the main roll over for an hour or two but that would not be my favorite place to spend much time.

    Having ridden with me UG, you know I am pretty happy riding any snow condtion but I would certainly preferred softer snow on this face. We all felt it was within our ability to ride it in those conditions and they showed me plenty of things (emotional, technique, equipment) that I want to work on that easier conditions would not have.

    As Russman mentions, the crossing onto the Adams Glacier is probably done for the year. We had to get over a crevasse with just a partial bridge as it was. “Point it” is not my favorite philosophy for being safe but that was our only option.

    #596565
    UPGRAYEDD_2505
    127 Posts

    Good stuff. I’ve never ridden it, so it’s all hypoothetical to me, but it’s nice to see other people on snowboards getting after it and to hear their impressions. When I lived up there I didn’t think my experience on steep and firm was sufficient to give it a go. Now I’d consider it, but only on the right day (lol). Preferably in easy pwder lol. And russman, I don’t think you’re promoting anything that will attract the masses; it’s been blogged/ tr’d a bunch already and is what it is: pretty serious. (Is that nice guy who fell down the thing still at Crystal???) Smart people see a face like that in person and are intimidated and treat it with respect (photos never do it justice; you show up and are like “Holy shit.”).

    I’ve had issues with partners freaking out in the past (not on anything that steep) and it changed the way, and with who, I ride stuff in less than ideal conditions (1800 ft of side stepping is really slow!). Heck, there were times when my dog wouldn’t follow me down…Having the right partners is important!!

    Having never been there, I didn’t realize the crossing onto the glacier was that gnarly. Good to know.

    #596564
    buell
    534 Posts

    Here is the crossing. The upper one was the only viable option from everything we could tell. You can see the line of the crevasse we had to cross just below it on the lookers left. The thing was huge on either side of the partial bridge crossing. Everything in this photo is much bigger than it looks.

    The main part of the line is not conducive to stopping and taking photos. This is Jim and Hannah from just below the main roll over. The line really messes with your perspective.

    One of the best parts of the trip was coming out of my tent to find Jimw pond skimming, completely alone. I brought the camera over and got some shots.

    #596562
    UPGRAYEDD_2505
    127 Posts

    Cool pics, thanks.

    #596563
    jimw
    1420 Posts

    Well… I have to say that I always knew all those years of scraping my way down steep-ass chutes off the Dana Plateau in shitty conditions would someday pay off!

    🙂

    Here are a few helmetcam stills to add some perspective. I have a ton more pics that I’ll get up one of these days with a proper TR, but in the meantime I’m still kinda processing the experience. Glad I went and glad I did it with solid partners. Such a different experience from my typical eastside jaunts.

    This is mid-turn near the top of the steepest sustained section, about where I was in the shot Buell took from above at the rock at the rollover. Hannah is the tiny dot in the middle. The crux traverse to get around the main cliff band is riders left of her. From this point that is not obvious. All this stuff looks so different from above. The face is BIG.

    This is below the crux, about to cut riders right to get onto the glacier. I guess normally you can descend the face a little further and cut over, but we didn’t see any reasonable exit lower down. Russell said it looked totally different from last year. It’s also not obvious from above but if you keep going down that face it ends in either a big cliff or a big crevasse… or both. Awesome.

    So, above Buell posted the closeup pic of the exit onto the glacier. If you look really closely in that pic, you can see the tracks from the skiers the day before. Even then it’s not totally obvious that they had to cross a crevasse. We took pics with my DSLR from below and on the way up and zoomed in to check it out, and it looked totally fine. It’s not until you’re above it that you can really tell. Here’s a shot from where we traversed onto the glacier, just above the crevasse, Buell above and Hannah below.

    Closer view:

    It was a total mindf*ck. I knew I needed to get across that thing before I started thinking about it too much. Hannah actually got frozen there for a while, understandably. Here’s the helmetcam view mid “point it” over the semi-collapsed snow bridge. Glad I didn’t look down!

    Hannah finally made it across. Here’s a couple shots of her exiting the Adams glacier that kinda put the size in perspective. You can see where you’d end up if you fell on the face. Not good.

    Backing up, this shows all of the steep part of the face (Hannah is down there in the bottom right). The earlier pic that Buell posted of me and Hannah was taken from the small rock band at the top left. The crux is the riders left traverse through the next two rock bands, and the traverse onto the glacier is to riders right below the third rock band and out of the pic. I think normally you can continue riding the face down to the next smaller rock band and traverse out around there, but that wasn’t happening this time.

    I have to say, the pond skimming was a little less mentally exhausting! 🙂

    Oh yeah, one more thing….

    BURTON SOFTBOOTS AND 148 SPLIFF FTW YO!!!

    I think I’m gonna claim 1st Clownboard descent. 🙂

    Actually, on that topic one cool thing was that several different riding setups were represented on that descent:

    – Burton Imperials, Burton Spliff 148, old Spark Franken-Fuses (me)
    – Fitwells, Jones Carbon Solution 161, Karakoram Primes (russman)
    – Dynafit TLT’s, G3 Carbon Black Sheep 158, Phantoms (buell)
    – Token skiier and all-around badass (hannah)

    #596571
    ShredOR
    130 Posts

    WOW, congratulation dude’s!!! Impressive and very cool trip, crazy line! I am glad I didn’t come. Mentally, I am done climbing for the season, and this day seems like it was all about mental strength (obviously with physical execution as well).

    The first time I went climbing with Buell, we had to ride frozen snow, down the top portion of Mt. McLoughlin’s North Face, and at the time, it was the steepest, iciest thing i’d ridden. I very clearly remember him telling me, “In the spring, if your are willing to drop into a face, you need to be prepared to ride it in any conditions.” Obviously, some snow conditions are un-rideable but, the point being, that snow conditions are unpredictable in the spring, and you may encounter frozen/hard snow where you might not expect too. Riding big/steep lines on volcanoes is its own Demon, and is not like riding steep powder.

    Just thought I would share that :twocents: , because I remind myself that consistently throughout the spring season.

    Anyways, nice freaking work!!! :headbang: :rock: :headbang: :rock: you guys are rockstars

    Jim pond skimming, solo, after a heavy day!!! If thats not soul shredding, then I don’t know what is :clap:

    Cheers :guinness:

    #596569
    jimw
    1420 Posts

    Yeah Morgan, next year you should come out, now you know for next season that you gotta stay in climbing mode mentally a little longer. 🙂

    The pond skim was the day before the descent. I figured doing some skim laps and chillin’ on the snow island with a beer would keep my mind off the next day’s task! Interestingly, that pond totally changed the next day. The first day there was no water at the outlet, and the second day there was a full-on river. The snow island totally shifted too, I’m not sure you could even get out onto it anymore. That just underscored to me how much snow conditions in general can change up there on a daily basis. I feel super lucky to have had all of the factors line up enough to do that descent on my first time up there.

    #596570
    Spikesta
    11 Posts

    That looks like fun!

    How can I get in on that? Who do I need to get in touch with?

    #596567
    TEX
    2486 Posts

    Damn, that looks steep. Way to get after it! JimW in hard boots? whats next?

    #596568
    802smuggler
    369 Posts

    Man, I was sweating just watching every jump turn to heel side in the video. I think it captures the severity pretty well as long as you can relate to the steepness and snow conditions. Thanks for sharing. That was the real deal.

    #596560
    sdmarkus
    407 Posts

    Very impressive, looks hella intense for sure 😯

    I was wondering if JimW was riding his Spliff 😆

    #596561
    Jefe009
    675 Posts

    Wow, super gnarly line. :drool: Nice work guys!

    And this TR should put any doubt to rest on whether the Spliff is really worthy to handle big lines. Haters be silenced! :doobie:

    www.splitlife.net

    #596559
    schwalbster
    321 Posts

    F#%&ing gnarly! Way to get after it guys!

    Steeps, Ponds & Pumice! JimW likes to have fun 😉 :headbang: :headbang: :headbang:

    After much research, experimentation and consideration, I have decided adulthood is not for me. Thank you for the opportunity.

    #596573
    powderjunkie
    1666 Posts

    Holy Shit! How’d I miss this TR.

    ALLTIME guys. Way to step it up and slay that face.

    I think you photoshopped in that spliff board. That or it shows that this line is just too easy for Jdub. :bananas:

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