ICS Spouse Survival Guide

by Becky Nelson

The author, right, and her husband Harry Colas.
So your loved one is considering the Mazama Intermediate Climbing School (ICS).
When my husband announced his intentions last year to apply for the ICS I wasn’t surprised—but I was a little worried.

We had made a Faustian bargain the year before: he would agree to move to my favorite city, Portland, if and only if I would sign up for a basic mountaineering course with him, which of course turned out to be the Mazama Basic Climbing Education Program (BCEP). At the age of six, I floated a similar bargain to my parentas: I would agree to move to Arizona if and only if they bought me a hamster. Six weeks later, in Scottsdale, Busy Bob entered our lives. Despite a debilitating fear of heights and a distaste for anything remotely athletic—coordination is not my strong suit—I figured BCEP couldn’t be half as bad as owning a pet hamster so we shook on it, moved to Portland, and six weeks later jumped into BCEP.

And we had a total blast! But while I loved my BCEP experience, ICS felt like another beast altogether: a big, scary, massive time suck of a class colorfully illustrated by intense photos, secondhand tall tales, and snarky warnings (including my favorite, “BCEP is where you find a partner, ICS is where you lose them.”) If I wasn’t ready to take the plunge myself, I was even less enthusiastic about watching my partner do so. Harry, on the other hand, was fearless. So I watched him apply, ace the test, and get accepted with trepidation in my heart (trepidation, of course, requiring very little coordination).

The author, right, and her husband Harry Colas at Smith Rock.
But we made it through the nine months of ICS and I’m happy to report, at least for us, the worry and the warnings did not come to fruition—we are even still married! So if you find yourself weighing whether to wholeheartedly support or wholeheartedly sabotage your loved one’s application, I encourage you to consider the five simple survival tips below. Follow them closely for a happy, productive, and dare I say enjoyable nine months as the spouse of an ICS student.

Survival Tip #1: Learn the Lingo

It can be tough to get your spouse’s attention when he is full-throttle ICS, all the time. If you’re finding that real life pales in comparison to Defeating the Plaquette or Escaping the Belay, learn to compete by becoming fluent in mountaineering jargon. Imagine the excitement involved in Evacuating the Dishwasher, Exterminating the Dandelions, or Expurgating the Bedlinens!

Survival Tip #2: Anticipate Needs

After about 30 minutes with an ICS assistant, your partner’s definition of basic human needs will expand to include not just food, shelter, and water, but also things like a pink tricam and a second ice tool. This is great news for you! Not only will buying your spouse the random $8 carabiner bring profane amounts of irrational delight, but you are set up for the most straightforward holiday shopping season ever (spoiler: you’re going to be buying those yellow La Sportiva boots.)
Also you’re going to need an air freshener for the car. Just trust me on this one. One of those pine tree jobbers will help make your partner (and her new dirty mountain friends) feel right at home.

Survival Tip #3: Practice Patience 

It’s the defining truth of ICS abandonment that your partner will be out of the house a lot. Take advantage of this absence by teaching the dog, cat, or kid—your choice!—where his loyalty should lie. My dog and I had a great nine months hiking, snuggling, eating table scraps, wrestling on the upholstery, pooping on the lawn, burying bones under my husband’s pillow ... you get the idea.
The author, right, and her husband Harry Colas.
I also recommend watching the trashiest options available on your partner’s Netflix account, thereby completely ruining the algorithm for all time.

When you do see your partner, chances are good that you will be climbing. Prepare for a change in your typical climbing day. Pre-ICS may have consisted of a leisurely breakfast burrito, six solid hours of climbing, and a leisurely burger and beer before heading home. Post-ICS, you should come to expect a leisurely breakfast burrito (save half for lunch, the most valuable advice given in ICS), five hours and forty-five minutes of intense discussion about the climbing anchor, fifteen minutes of climbing, a fraught burger and beer over which there is more intense discussion about the climbing anchor, and guess what? More discussion on the drive home. Pack headphones.

Survival Tip #4: Accentuate the Positive

A few ICS hacks I learned this year: 

  • ICS is the perfect time to challenge your partner to a footrace with high stakes. Their confidence is high, their physical fitness incredibly low. For a course about mountaineering, there is very little actual mountaineering (or hiking, or really even walking) being done.
  • ICS is also the perfect time to suggest a visit from your in-laws. Not only will there be no free weekends during which your partner can take you up on this very kind, oh-so-thoughtful, just the sweetest offer, but your guest room will also more closely resemble an REI garage sale staging ground than an actual room that actual people could sleep in.
  • Your spouse’s baseline for “fun” will drop precipitously, and include things like intentionally falling off tall climbing walls, laying maimed on a snowy mountain for hours during first-aid scenarios, and drinking lukewarm Starbucks Vias. Dinner with your friends or seeing the latest Marvel monstrosity will seem positively rapturous by comparison. 

Use these hacks to your advantage.

Survival Tip #5: Don’t Keep Score

It may be framed as a year of sacrifice for the spouse that’s been “left behind,” but there are actually many benefits of ICS that will come to you through the hard work of your partner.
Though he will be eating, sleeping, and breathing ICS, he also will be weirdly paranoid about failing his tests. By quizzing him, you are not only improving your lingo fluency (see survival tip #1), you are also essentially auditing the class for free. When you inevitably apply for ICS, you will be way ahead of the game.

You will inherit, through very little effort on your part, cool new friends who have gone through nine months of serious vetting.

And, most importantly, it is extremely likely that the beneficiary of all this newly minted rescue expertise will be you. After a year of hard work, your spouse will still not be able to pull herself out of a crevasse. But she will be able to pull your lazy bones out of a crevasse, or lower your broken bones down a pitch, or CPR your unresponsive bones back to life, or at the very least prevent the dog from burying any bones under your pillow. She will work hard all year to learn skills that will benefit all of her future climbing partners, including you.

So it turns out that your loved one’s nine months of intense mountaineering training away from home really ends up being a selfless act of love and protection, and there’s no room whatsoever for resentment or regret.

Of course the best way to pay that forward, or perhaps exact your revenge, is to apply for ICS yourself. (Learn more about ICS)

Author Bio: Becky Nelson has been a member of the Mazamas since 2016. In addition to this, her Bulletin debut, she writes several emails a day.


A Legacy on the Landscape

by Mathew Brock, Mazama Library and Historical Collections Manager

Place names are integral to our knowledge and understanding of Mazama history. The nomenclature of Pacific Northwest geographic features, more often than not goes unrecognized and is often forgotten. Unknown to most, the Mazamas and its members have influenced the names of many places around the Northwest. The story begins, as many recountings of Mazama history does, with our founder William Gladstone Steel.

William Steel, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Mazama

Besides founding the Mazamas and helping to establish Crater Lake National Park, the nomenclature place names fascinated Steel. He worked for many years to compile a catalog of over 40,000 place names. It seems only fitting then that Steel Cliff on Mt. Hood honors him. Steel is also responsible for the naming of Mt. Hood’s Illumination Rock and Mississippi Head. In 1887 he organized and led a party that carried 100 pounds of red fire up to the mountain’s top and set them alight as part of that year’s July 4 celebration. Anyone who could see the mountain that night could see the fire atop Illumination Rock. In 1905 Steel named Mississippi Head for that state’s delegation to the National Editorial Association, who held their annual convention in Portland that year.

While on the subject of Mt. Hood, the Mazamas have either named or have influenced the naming of several other prominent features on the mountain. In 1901 the Mazamas named Reid Glacier for Professor Harry Fielding Reid of Johns Hopkins University to honor his work studying glaciers. Others include the naming of Glisan Glacier for long-time member Rodney L. Glisan and Leuthold Couloir for Mazama Joseph Leuthold. In the late 1990s, the U.S. Forest Service renamed the Cathedral Ridge trail the Mazama Trail to recognize the organization’s long association and history with the mountain.

All this pales in the satisfaction Steel must have felt when, in 1896, the ancient mountain whose caldera now holds Crater Lake was named Mt. Mazama in honor of the organization he founded. Steel loved Crater Lake and worked for seventeen years to have the area declared a National Park. He later served as the park’s second superintendent.

Columbia River Gorge

In 1914 the State Highway Commission asked Mazamas to recommend names for some of the places along the Columbia River Highway. The council sanctioned a committee to study the issue and make recommendations. In 1915 the committee submitted their proposals to the Mazamas and the Highway Commission. The commission accepted the majority of the recommendations. We know them today as Metlako Falls, Munra Point, Ruckel Creek, Tumult Creek, Wahclella Falls, Wahe Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Wuana Point, Elowah Falls, and Yeon Mountain. Don Onthank, a long-time member known to many as Mr. Mazama, gave the name to Bruin Mountain and the Rock of Ages Trail, both in the Gorge. And for a short while, there existed a Mazama Mystery Trail in the Gorge in the vicinity of Saint Peter’s Dome.

Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Rainier

The Mazamas influence extends beyond Hood and the Gorge. Mazama and northwest mountaineer Claude E. Rusk is the namesake of Rusk Glacier on Mt. Adams. On Mt. Baker, the Mazama Dome honors the organization, while the Mazamas named Roosevelt Glacier in 1906 for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.  The Mazamas is the namesake for the Mazama Glaciers on both Adams and Baker. The Mazamas petitioned in 1948 to have the Mazama Glacier on Mt. Adams renamed to honor five-time Mazama President Charles Sholes, but the request was denied. Mazama founding member Fay Fuller is the source for Fay Peak, on the slopes of Mt. Rainier.

Forest Park

Closer to home, the Mazamas advocated for the creation of Forest Park. For their efforts, the city allowed for the establishment of the Mazama Forest inside the park. Now all but forgotten, this area was overseen by the Mazamas. Besides planting thousands of trees, the Mazamas sourced various types of rhododendrons from around the region and transplanted them. The Hardesty Trail leading to the forest honors Mazama President William Hardesty.

Mount St. Helens

Until the summer of 1967, all the glaciers on Mount St. Helens were nameless. In May of 1966, Keith Gehr, a frequent Mazama climb leader and then head of the Mazama Outing Committee, set out to rectify the situation. Over three months Keith worked the phones and wrote countless letters to determine why there were no given names. Keith’s search turned up an ally when he contacted Dr. Mark Meier, a glaciologist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). After getting assurances from the USGS that the 11 permanent ice bodies on the mountain were, in fact, actual glaciers, Keith and Mark set about researching and submitting names for them. Keith wrote, “After much research in the Mazama library on the early history of the Mt. St. Helens area, particularly as it is related to climbing, a set of names was proposed. Differences of opinion between the Mazamas, Forest Service, and Geological Survey were quickly resolved in across-the-table meetings.” The eleven names recommended were: Forsyth, Nelson, Ape, Shoestring, Swift, Dryer, Talus, Toutle, Wishbone, Loowit, and Leschi. In November of 1967, the Board of Geographic Names, based in Washington D.C., approved the Mt. Saint Helens glacier names based on recommendations from the Mazamas.

Three of the names—Forsyth, Nelson, and Dryer—honored individuals. Charles Forsyth led six companions in the first rescue on St. Helens during the 1908 Mazama Outing. Over a grueling 48-hours, he led north-south and south-north traverses of the mountain to bring an injured climber to safety. Lorenz Nelson, a pioneer of Northwest mountaineering, 50-year Mazama member, and a two-time president is the namesake for the Nelson Glacier. Thomas Dryer was the founder and first editor of the Oregonian newspaper and a member of the party that first climbed St. Helens in 1853. The remaining glaciers took their names from either their shapes or from Native American heritage. Unfortunately The 1980 eruption vaporized Wishbone, Loowit, and Lesch glaciers and significantly reduced Nelson, Shoestring, and Forsyth glaciers.

Diligent searches through almost a hundred years of Mazama Bulletins has turned up many other places named for or by the Mazamas and its members. To name a few of the more interesting and unique: Lost Park in Beaverton; the Mazama Campground at Crater Lake; Sahale Peak near Washington’s Lake Chelan was named for the organization’s motto; Mt. Thielsen’s Lathrop Glacier, for Mazama Theodore Lathrop; and finally the small seasonal lake that appears atop South Sister was named Teardrop Lake by three young Mazamas on a hike.

While this recounting of place names around the Northwest is in no way comprehensive, it provides a glimpse into the influence the Mazamas have had on the nomenclature and the history of the region. Place names are anchors by which the Mazamas are tied to the mountains, valleys, glaciers, and ridges and act as markers of where the organization has traveled, climbed, and camped. As the Mazamas enter into their 124th year, the places named for and by the Mazamas are a proud reminder of the organization’s long and deeply rooted legacy on the landscape.


Off the Beaten Backpack

Three Fantastic Backpacking Trips for the Discerning Backpacker

by Matt Reeder

So you couldn’t get a permit for the Enchantments or the Wonderland Trail? Maybe you’ve done the Timberline Trail several times and want a new challenge? You aren’t alone. Every year I hear from my friends in the outdoor community about the difficulty of securing permits to cherished spots like the Enchantments, and the desire to find backpacking trips that aren’t completely overwhelmed with people or require complicated planning stretching over several days.

Thankfully there are many other places to backpack. Great places! I’ve spent the last several years researching my three hiking guidebooks: Off the Beaten Trail, 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mt. Jefferson Region, and PDX Hiking 365. I’ve had the opportunity to do some truly amazing backpacking expeditions, from short overnighters at nearby lakes to longer treks through remote and forbidding wilderness areas. Presented here are three relatively obscure trips sure to satisfy all of you who can’t or don’t want to backpack the Timberline Trail, the Wonderland Trail, or the Enchantments.

Big Slide Lake.

Big Slide Lake and Bull of the Woods

While it isn’t full of the kind of alpine splendor found on Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier, the Bull of the Woods Wilderness is a peaceful and inviting destination for backpacking, from one-day trips to longer loops that touch all of the highpoints of the area, both literal and figurative. The only issue with visiting this area is that many of the trailheads are at the far end of long, winding gravel roads that test the patience of many drivers. This long but rewarding trek to Big Slide Lake and up to Bull of the Woods is easy to find, easy to follow, and leads hikers to a beautiful lake deep in the wilderness. Hikers desiring a mountain view can continue 2 miles to the summit of Bull of the Woods, where the view stretches from Mt. Rainier to the Three Sisters.

Beginning at the trailhead, follow the Dickey Creek Trail on the remains of an abandoned road for a half mile. The trail then descends steeply into Dickey Creek’s deep canyon, leveling out in a classic cathedral forest of ancient Douglas fir. The trail meanders along the valley bottom, passing a pond, until it reaches a crossing of Dickey Creek at about 3.5 miles from the trailhead. Make your way across the creek, which is generally easy in summer, and begin gaining elevation on the far side. The trail climbs up the forested slopes of Dickey Creek’s upper canyon, crossing a huge talus slope at the base of Big Slide Mountain’s cliffs. Reach a short side trail to Big Slide Lake at a little over 6 miles from the trailhead. Take the short spur trail down to the lake. Big Slide Lake is shallow but beautiful, with a lovely green color and an adorable island in the middle of the lake. The best campsites are on the lake’s west side, where you should be able to find a place of your own with space and privacy.

Bull of the Woods wilderness.
Once you’ve set up camp, take the time to hike 2 miles uphill, turning right at every junction, to the Bull of the Woods Lookout, where the view is magnificent. Some exploration on the summit will reveal different vantages, a historic outhouse, and views down to Big Slide Lake. The lookout tower, no longer used and closed to the public, is in poor shape—use caution when walking along the platform at the tower.

Hikers desiring a longer backpacking trip have many options, but a lack of trail maintenance has made some of these options a less attractive idea. Perhaps the best idea is to continue west from Bull of the Woods to a pass above Pansy Lake, and then descend the Mother Lode Trail 4.5 miles to beautiful Battle Creek Flats, at its confluence with Elk Lake Creek. Making a loop is possible either by hiking up the Elk Lake Creek Trail to Elk Lake and returning via the Bagby Trail and Twin Lakes, or by hiking downstream along Elk Lake Creek and returning via the Welcome Lakes and West Lake Way Trails to Bull of the Woods. This latter option to Welcome Lakes is among the worst-maintained trails in the area and is not recommended. Consult a topographic map if you’re planning on making a longer loop here.


  • From Portland, drive southeast on OR 224 approximately 20 miles to Estacada.
  • From Estacada, drive southeast on OR 224 for approximately 25 miles to the old guard station at Ripplebrook.
  • Just past Ripplebrook OR 224 becomes FR 46. Continue straight on FR 46 for 4.2 miles from Ripplebrook to a junction with FR 63.
  • Turn right onto FR 63, following signs for Bagby Hot Springs. 
  • Drive this 2-lane paved road for 3.5 miles to a junction with FR 70, signed for Bagby
  • Hot Springs. Ignore this turnoff and continue straight on FR 63.
  • Drive another 2.1 miles on FR 63 to a junction with FR 6340 on your right.
  • Turn right on this gravel road and drive 0.6 mile to a junction, where you keep straight.
  • Continue on FR 6340 another 2.1 miles to a junction with FR 140 with a sign for the Dickey Creek Trail. Turn left here.
  • Drive this narrow, rocky road for 1 mile to a T-junction. The trailhead is on the right, but the best parking is on the left. There is also room for a couple of cars on the shoulder FR 140 about twenty yards before the junction.

Heart of Jeff Loop

Marion Falls in the heart of the
Jefferson Wilderness
Hikers looking for a multi-day alternative to the Timberline Trail will find few better options than this multi-day backpack around the south side of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. As it is impossible to circumnavigate Mt. Jefferson (due to the Warm Springs Reservation, the lack of a trail on the east side, fire damage, and impassible cliffs and gorges, among other things), this circuit hits many of the high points in one of Oregon’s most beautiful wilderness preserves. The time is right so go now—next year a complicated permit system will likely come into effect, making this area much more difficult to visit. 

The trek starts at the crowded Marion Lake Trail, climbing gently 1.7 miles to a fork just before you reach the lake. Both trails go to the lake, but keep left for the shortest and most direct route. At a fork at lake’s edge, keep left and hike along the lake’s north shore. Views stretch across the huge backcountry lake south to Three Fingered Jack. Reach a junction with the Lake of the Woods Trail at 2.5 miles, where you turn left. Follow the Lake of the Woods Trail north to a junction with the Swallow Lake Trail and turn right. This trail passes by Swallow Lake before climbing steeply to the foot of South Cinder Peak at 8 miles. Take the time to follow the short spur trail here to the summit of the peak, where the 360 degree view stretches out to the far horizon, from Mt. Hood to the Three Sisters and everything in between. From here, return to the Swallow Lake Trail and reach a four-way junction with the Pacific Crest Trail and Shirley Lake Trail. Cross the PCT and turn onto the Shirley Lake Trail. Hike north 1.5 miles to Carl Lake, your stopping point for the first day of this trek. You’ll find lots of sites at this deep backcountry lake. 

From Carl Lake, locate the Cabot Lake Trail heading north and follow it as it seesaws through attractive woods. The trail passes under North Cinder Peak’s cliffs, curves attractively around the Forked Butte lava flow and then passes directly by scenic Forked Buttes as it makes its way towards Mt. Jefferson. The trail descends to small Patsy Lake and then gains elevation once more, finally reaching secluded Table Lake at 4.7 miles from Carl Lake. Make Table Lake your second night stop, and spend the rest of your day exploring this beautiful area. While you’re here, be sure to locate the continuation of the Cabot Lake Trail and follow it 1.5 miles north to an incredible viewpoint by the cliffs of Bear Butte. Here Mt. Jefferson towers over Hole-in-the-Wall Park, just four miles away. The trail once continued down to the park but is now lost in blowdown from the B+B fire. 

 South Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson. 
On day 3, leave Table Lake. You could hike all the way back to Carl Lake and return the way you came, but this trek is much better as a loop. So hike south from Table Lake 0.2 mile to a meadow, where a very faint trail cuts off west towards the Cascade crest. The trail isn’t easy to find, but is worth the trouble. Once you’ve found it, hike west on a trail that threads between a cinder cone and The Table and then traverses steeply uphill to the crest of the ridge. Once you top out the trail becomes faint again, but from here just continue west 0.1 mile or so to the PCT. When you find the PCT you’re faced with another dilemma—do you turn left and head south to wrap up the loop, or do you turn right to make a longer loop by heading into the burned forests west of the PCT for more lakes and a longer hike? The PCT continues south 4.7 miles to the Shirley Lake-Swallow Lake-PCT junction mentioned above, offering fabulous views and easy hiking. If you’re up for the longer loop option, turn right at this junction and soon arrive at a junction with the Hunts Creek Trail. Follow this trail as it climbs slightly and arrives at a rocky ledge above beautiful Hunts Cove, with Mt. Jefferson looming just across the valley. After 1.7 miles, reach a junction with the Lake of the Woods Trail. 

North leads down into Hunts Cove (a limited-entry permit area), but for the loop, keep left. The Lake of the Woods Trail continues south, soon entering burned forest. You’ll pass Lake of the Woods and finally reach a junction with the Swallow Lake Trail at 9.8 miles from Table Lake. Continue 1.7 miles to Marion Lake. At this point you’ve hiked 11.5 miles on Day 3—but you’re only 2 miles and change from the trailhead. If you’re wiped out, consider camping at this lake and spending the next morning exploring before hiking out. Explorations around the lake reveal fantastic lake shore viewpoints of Three-Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson as well as huge and impressive Marion Falls just below the lake. If you’ve got a bit of extra energy you can scramble up the talus slope on the west side of the lake (along the peninsula) to a fantastic viewpoint on top of a rock pile that looks out across the lake to Mt. Jefferson and Three-Fingered Jack. But if you reach Marion Lake and are ready to be done with this loop, follow the trail west of the lake a little over 2 miles to the trailhead. 

  • From Portland, drive south on Interstate 5 to Exit 253 in Salem, signed for Detroit Lake and Bend. Leave the freeway here and turn left onto OR 22. 
  • From Salem, drive OR 22 east for 49.2 miles to Detroit.
  • Continue on OR 22 another 16.2 miles to a junction with Marion Road (FR 2255), just opposite the now-closed Marion Forks Restaurant.
  • Turn left here and drive this one-lane paved road for 0.8 mile to the end of pavement. Continue another 3.7 miles of excellent gravel road to road’s end at the Marion Lake Trailhead.
  • There are many places to park but come early—this is an extremely popular hike and the trailhead is often full by mid-morning on summer weekends.
  • NW Forest Pass Required. A limited-entry permit of some sort will likely be required in 2019. 

Mt. Adams Northside Traverse

Mt. Adams rugged north side.
Like Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams features a trail that circumnavigates it. Sort of. The Round The Mountain Trail takes hikers three-quarters of the way around Mt. Adams, eventually ending on the far east side of the mountain, deep inside the Yakima Reservation—and from this point hikers must hike off-trail through forbidding terrain to complete the loop at Bird Creek Meadows. It is a fun adventure but a difficult one—and with Bird Creek Meadows closed this year, scratch it off your to-do list.

Thankfully, much of the finest terrain on Mt. Adams is open and gorgeous, and this traverse is probably the nicest backpacking trip in the area. The best place to start, in spite of lousy road access, is the Killen Creek Trailhead. Here you avoid the ubiquitous fire damage found further south and west on Mt. Adams, opting instead to just hike straight into wondrous alpine terrain on the north side of the mountain. It’s just all good here, almost right from the start. Begin on the Killen Creek Trail and hike steeply uphill on a trail that charges up the hillside. Thankfully the bad times don’t last long, and soon you’ll begin traversing glorious wildflower meadows with views south to the heavily glaciated north side of Mt. Adams. Meet the PCT (which here is also the Round the Mountain Trail) at a junction at 3 miles. The longer trip turns left here, to continue heading east around Mt. Adams. If you’re looking for a spectacular detour or a closer place to camp, turn right and immediately locate the spur trail to High Camp 100 feet to your right. Turn left here and climb this steep trail uphill 1 mile to High Camp, a plateau at nearly 7,000 feet of elevation, 4 miles from the Killen Creek Trailhead. This is among the most spectacular places on Mt. Adams, at the northern foot of the mountain near the terminus of the massive Adams Glacier. Views stretch north to Mt. Rainier and the Goat Rocks. There are plenty of campsites dotted throughout the plateau—just expect very cold nights, even in summer. If you’re just stopping by, return to the PCT and head east to continue hiking around Mt. Adams. 

Foggy Flats.
In a little under a mile, the trail crosses Killen Creek just above a cascading waterfall and passes a glade I lovingly refer to as “Perfection Park”—as in, it couldn’t possibly get better than this. The area is a popular camping spot for folks here, but with some luck you may find a site if you decide you don’t want to go any further. If you’re continuing, follow the PCT until you meet a junction with the Highline Trail (another name for the Round the Mountain Trail). Keep right and hike another 1.8 miles to a junction with the Muddy Meadows Trail. Keep right again and continue about a mile to Foggy Flat, a huge meadow on the northeast side of Mt. Adams. There are a few campsites scattered around the flat, which features a view of the top half of Mt. Adams. For the good stuff, continue on the Highline Trail a short ways past Foggy Flat until the trail leaves both meadow and forest, arriving at the lava flows and barren plains on the northeast side of Mt. Adams. There are a few good campsites here, and chances are you won’t have much competition for them. At this point you’re over 7 miles from the Killen Creek Trailhead, so it’s probably a good idea to stop here. Once you’ve set up camp, grab your pack and some water and continue exploring south along the barren plains. The views of Mt. Adams and its glaciers are tremendous, and continuous—this is truly a special place. 

The trail does continue several more miles south to Devil’s Garden and eventually Avalanche Valley, two of the most amazing places on Mt. Adams—but the creek crossings are difficult, and camping is questionable once you reach the Yakima Reservation. You’ve got options, and all of them are great. 
If you’re looking for a longer backpacking trip, start further south on Mt. Adams. There are numerous trails that reach the Round the Mountain Trail, from the South Climb Trailhead on the south side of the mountain to the Divide Camp Trail just southeast of the Killen Creek Trailhead. Many of these feature easier road access than does Killen Creek, and offer hikers the chance to turn a short trip into a much longer trip. In the absence of a loop trail (at least this year), the best option would be to set up a car shuttle somewhere along the way and hike the circuit one way from south to north. 

  • From Portland, drive east on Interstate 84 to Hood River.
  • At Exit 64 on I-84, leave the freeway and reach a junction at the end of the off-ramp.
  • Turn left and drive to the toll bridge over the Columbia River. Pay the $2 toll and cross the river.
  • At the far end of the bridge on the Washington side, turn left on WA 14.
  • Drive 1.5 miles west on WA 14 to a junction with WA 141 ALT, just before a bridge over the White Salmon River. Turn right here.
  • Drive 2.2 miles to a junction with WA 141. Turn left here.
  • Drive 18.9 miles to the small town of Trout Lake.
  • Continue straight on what is now Mt Adams Road (FR 23) for 1.5 miles to a junction.
  • Keep left (right leads to the south and east sides of Mt. Adams) to stay on FR 23.
  • Drive 23 miles, ignoring all side roads along the way, to a junction with FR 2329 near Takhlakh Lake. The last several miles of this road are gravel.
  • Turn right on FR 2329, following signs for Takhlakh Lake.
  • Drive 1.5 miles to Takhlakh Lake, ignoring signs for Olallie Lake along the way.
  • Continue past Takhlakh Lake, where FR 2329 worsens into a rough, rutted, potholed road that requires patience.
  • Drive 1.9 miles beyond Takhlakh Lake to the Divide Camp Trail on your right.
  • Continue 2.4 increasingly rough miles to the Killen Creek Trailhead on your right.


Ascent: Climbing Explored

Early mountaineering gear exhibit case featuring alpenstock, boots, jackets,
and climbing gear from the Mazama Library and Historical Collections.

An Exhibit at High Desert Museum 

article & photos by Mathew Brock

Chouinard Equipment exhibit case featuring signed ice axe
and catalog from the Mazama Library and Historical Collections. 
A new exhibit recently opened at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon that is of interest to all Mazamas. Ascent: Climbing Explored showcases the dynamic history, evolution, and culture of climbing and mountaineering in the West. Curated by High Desert Museum staff, the exhibit tells the story of how technology pushed the sport to new heights over several decades, explores the geology of the High Desert region, and shares the vibrant culture climbers cultivated along the way.

Curator of Western History Dr. Laura Ferguson spent the better part of a year researching the sport as she developed the exhibit. “The climbing community has been incredibly generous, and I’ve loved having a chance to learn more about the history of climbing from those who played a key role in shaping it,” said Dr. Laura Ferguson. Over eighty objects from the Mazama Library and Historical Collections are on loan to the High Desert Museum.  A few of the objects featured in the exhibit include an alpenstock, early 1900s women’s climbing boots, and a wide array of summit register containers. Besides physical objects, the Mazama Library also provided many photographs used throughout the exhibit. Jeff Thomas, a renowned climber, author, and Mazama Library volunteer loaned several artifacts from his personal collection, including a complete rock climbing rack used during many first ascents at Smith Rock.

Summit register container exhibit case featuring containers
from Mazama Library and Historical Collections. 
The exhibition takes an incredible journey back in time, tracing modern-day climbing to its early mountaineering roots when people began exploring peaks in pursuit of scientific discovery. It examines the rise in mountaineering expeditions that followed as people started to climb for the sheer joy of it and the development of rock climbing. Along the way, it highlights technical advances—from evolving shoe styles to the advent and improvement of safety gear.

The exhibit also features beautiful artwork and objects on loan from around the region and across the nation, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society, and Patagonia. The exhibit highlights the geology of the area, including Smith Rock, which became a national destination in the 1980s. “It’s exciting that Smith Rock, which has played a significant role in the world of climbing, is right in our backyard,” said Dr. Ferguson. The exhibition also addresses the importance of balancing adventure-based, outdoor recreation with environmental stewardship.
Climbing ropes from the Mazama Library
and Historical Collections. 

“Ascent provides a connection between the past and present, exploring climbing from its humble beginnings through the enthusiastic following the sport has today,” said the Museum’s Executive Director, Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D.  “Climbing culture runs deep in our region and we’re pleased to be able to expand our visitors’ knowledge through this exhibit.” The exhibition runs through September 3, 2018.