Hike to the Summit of Mount Adams via South Climb

Rate this Adventure Washington South Climb Trailhead

Added by Jeffrey Helbling

Snow hike up 6,740' to the summit of Washington's second highest peak. Get amazing views of Mt. Hood and the Gorge.

Start by checking in at the Trout Lake Ranger station to pick up a Cascade Volcanoes pass for $10-$15. Continue the South Climb trailhead at the Cloud Cap Campground. Some hikers overnight here for an early start the next day.

Sign out a wilderness permit at the trailhead and follow the South Climb Trail to the base of the Crescent Glacier. Continue on the trail up the ridge. There are numerous campsites with wind breaks on the ridge if a low camp is desired.

Once above the Crescent Glacier continue to ascend the snow field. Crampons may be necessary depending on snow firmness. Toward the east side of the snow field is a plateau known as the Lunch Counter. The Lunch Counter at about 9,400' is a popular camp spot with lots of wind breaks, but can be crowded on weekends. Slightly higher above the Lunch Counter are a few more secluded campsites and wind breaks which offer amazing views of Mt Hood and the Gorge.

Either stay the night here or continue on. Ascend the steep snowfield. Depending on snow conditions crampons may be necessary. It is possible to scramble up the rocks on Sukdorf Ridge to the left of the snowfield. Generally the snow softens in the afternoon. In soft snow conditions it is possible to ascend the snow slope in boots.

Once to the crest of the snowfield an old telegraph wire is exposed on the left. Continue on the trail along the right side of the crest and cross the snowfield. Take the switchbacks in the dirt to the false summit known as Piker's Peak at 11,657'. Once on the summit travel up the final ascent to the NW to the abandoned mine shack at 12,276'. Across the east side there are several campsites with wind breaks.

For slightly more challenging ascent take the SW Couloirs with crampons and ice axe to the summit from the crest of Sukdorfs Ridge.

On Clear days views of Mt Rainer to the North, Mt St Helens to the East, Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson to the South.

Descend the way you came. On the snow field by Sukdorf's ridge epic glissading chutes develop in mid to late summer. Glissading in these chutes can be a fun way to descent a few thousand feet but beware of rocks and other hazards.

Pack List

  • Backpack,
  • Head Lamp
  • Water
  • Snacks and food
  • Map
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Medical kit
  • Boots
  • Crampons
  • Ice Axe
  • Sun Screen
  • Chap stick with sun screen
  • Sun Glasses
  • Emergency Bivy
  • Layers for below freezing temps
  • Outer shell pants and Jackets
  • Cell phone
  • Camera
  • Head Lamp
If overnighting:
  • Meals
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Tent
  • Water filtration or treatment
  • Stove
  • Gas
  • Waterproof Matches or lighter
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn


12 Miles

Elev. Gain:

6700 Feet


Easy Parking

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Added by Jeffrey Helbling

Part Time RN, Full Time Adventurer!
 Backcountry Skier, Snowboarder, Dirt Baggin' Mountaineer, Climber, Hiker, and Sailor.
 Instagram Profile: JeffHelbling

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