Madison and Adams 2009-03-15
Madison and Adams from Appalachia, 2009-03-15, Tim and (OldMan) Ed, plus numerous VFTTers we encountered along the way. 10 miles, 5000', 7:30
I had a debate with myself over the necessity of carrying snowshoes. I felt the hut and Madison were quite reachable without, but I was a little concerned about the return trip and the softening snow. Plus, I knew that if we crossed Edmand's Col to Jefferson we might want them. In the end, I took them, but we never put them on.
On our way up, we encountered a few sets of smiling backpackers who had spent one or more nights at the Valley Way tentsite and all said the weather up high was beautiful. At one point, Rocket21 went rocketing past us. VFTTer sightings were going to be common today.
The Valley Way was a concrete sidewalk. It was warm enough down low to have bare spots and ice spots, which Microspikes handled perfectly. The trees had no snow or ice on them, and they were not nearly as grabby as the trees in the Carter Range were last weekend. As we came to the scrub, it was obvious the wind was not nearly at the 25-40mph as predicted, and the sky was much clearer than the "scattered", "broken" and 25-50% cloud cover predictions that were on the weather sites early in the AM. At one point in the scrub, we discovered an abandoned snow cave, which faced downhill and was close to the soon-to-be monorail. I'd advise caution coming down as you wouldn't know it was there from that direction.
Emerging from the scrub, but before the hut, the panorama before you consists of Madison to the left, and John Quincy Adams to the right. JQA obscures Adams and for the unaware, it appears that Madison is taller than "Adams". Although we didn't need shelter from the wind, we went around the backside of the hut to gear up for the summit cone. Once there, we ran into several VFTTers/RoTters, including KMac, Rocket21, Bob Kittredge (decked out in the older dark-green-with-white-logo VFTT shirt), and a few others. We knew Mad River and KevinMac were somewhere up here today but we did not bump into them (parked next to Mad River at Appalachia, but they went up Lowe's Path.)
Bob was on his way up, and so he and Ed (after getting used to his crampons) and I went up together. There were many groups up here including Jim Lombard's regular group (Ed, Bill, Bob, etc.) but no Jim. Jeb was grabbing winter peaks 42 and 43 today. The Osgood trail was almost bare-bootable, being at least as much exposed rock as snow and ice. The only hard part would have been the traverse of the top of the snowfield that faces east towards the Wildcats. The actual summit was pretty much bare. Unlike February 2008, it wasn't windy, and there wasn't snow and ice blowing over the top. In fact, it was warm enough to skip my hat.
Madison is a winter repeat for me, but was #27 for Ed.
The descent back to the hut was quick, and we said ciao to Bob. I retrieved my snowshoes and changed clothes before we headed over to Adams on the Gulfside. The views down into and over King Ravine and out to the Pliney and Killkenny ranges were spectacular. Interestingly enough, on the horizon beyond, it was looking like summer, with that light band of tan/brown smog. There still wasn't a cloud in the sky, and what little breeze we had encountered on Madison seemed to be gone. At the Airline Junction, we turned left and followed the Airline to the summit. Here we definitely were making good use of crampons, although people came down in snowshoes. The slope above us glistened with a thin coat of ice in the strengthening rays of the sun, and the radiant heat made me wish for a bit of a breeze!
After zig-zagging our way up the last steep pitch of the Airline, the summit sign came into view. There were a few other groups here, plus two or three groups we met coming down while we were going up. There was almost no wind (and looking at the MWO conditions last night, there was a clear dip around 1pm when we were up there.) We sat and took photos, and chatted with other groups, and ate. Mostly we enjoyed the spectacular clear blue sky, the views and the warmth of the sun.
Adams makes winter #24 for me, and #28 for Ed.
Back to the Hut
After a pleasant stay, we decided not to try for Jefferson today - it was further than we wanted to go, and we figured that the snow in Edmand's Col would likely be soft and slow us down. So, we went back the way we came, enjoying the end-on view of Madison on the lower half of Airline and on the Gulfside. We stopped at the flat clearing in front of the hut, and sat on the (warm!) rocks to switch out of crampons and back into Microspikes.. The Valley Way was definitely softer, and slipperier than in the AM, but we did not posthole at all. So, I would say snowshoes are not necessary for a while, unless we get some warmer nights where the trails don't get a chance to set up.