SW Chutes of Adams

JUNE 21, 2020

The crew heading up towards Lunch Counter

Everyone who backountry...

skis in the Northwest has the SW chutes of Mt. Adams on their to-do list. I don't know a single person who doesn't want to ski those beauties. And how could you not?! 2,000ft of clean beautiful turns?! It's enough to add a gleam in the eye of any little mountain lover. For Dan and I, it had always been on our list, but something else "better" had always come up. It's a long drive from Seattle, and we had just kept putting it off. We had been planning to ski the Fuhrer Finger on Rainier with our friends, Andi and Eric, but bad weather rolled in and we decided to bail on that route. Miraculously, weather on Adams was looking better, and still wanting to get a lot of ski vert, we turned to the SW chutes and didn't look back. Deciding we wanted to do a car to car of this ski, we wanted to get up early and time "corn o' clock" well. We were up at 5am and left around 5:20. At 11:30 we arrived at Pikers Peak, and didn't really care to go to the summit since we had all been up there a couple times already. We grabbed a bite to eat, and went over to the entrance of the chutes to evaluate snow conditions.

The wind was BLOWING hard at the top of Pikers, and everyone up there was sitting huddled together trying to stay warm. We couldn't tell where the wind was coming from, and was worried it was coming directly from the Southwest. As we got to the top of the chutes we realized that, yup, the top of the chutes were very icy, and the wind was blasting it. "Whelp," Eric said peering down the chutes, "you don't go up a big objective like this without being prepared to survival ski if you have to." We all nodded and went to making a plan of descent. We decided to stick as far skiers right as possible, where the sun was hitting it the most, and hope it got better on the way down. After 3 or 4 icy turns, the snow softened into very, very nice spring corn, and we all whooped and hollered down the beautiful Southwest side of Washington's second tallest peak.

Me cruising down the lower section of the chutes. (Thanks for the shot, Eric!)

Looking back at the Chutes on the descent back to the car. Click on the picture to see my GPS track for the traverse back!

Now... The traverse back from the bottom of the Chutes to the car has been notorious for bushwhacking and shenanigans, and we were fully prepared to need to do some thinking to get back to the car. Luckily we had read a trip report on TAY explaining to start traversing around 7,000ft and the report showed the best way to go. Thanks Brad Hefta-Gaub! We had to put our skins on only once more, and eventually slid back to the summer trail where we had a short walk to get back to our car. What an epic day! We were so happy to get such a nice descent in June, and were so happy that the ice was only present for a couple turns. Back at the car, we sat and drank a cold beer and had a quick snack before the 5 hour drive back to Seattle. Happy to tick off another classic.

For GPS track of where we went for the traverse on the descent, click on the picture to the left!


  • Total mileage of the day - 12.33 miles

  • Total elevation gain - 6,500ft

  • Total time - 10 hours 5 mins

  • Car to high point (for us, Pikers Peak) - 6 hours 10 mins

  • Max slope angle of the chutes ~ 45 degrees, very wide.

  • GPS via Strava - https://www.strava.com/activities/3652104661