Madison and Adams 1.2.2017

I’m working on my winter 48 this season, and we got a Presi day. The Presis are the peaks that intimidate me the most in winter. Even in the summer, the high peaks can be dangerous. In winter, people have died from exposure. And so, it’s a head game for me. I won’t attempt a winter high peak solo under any circumstances. But on a Presi day in a group, I will absolutely head up. I’ve got the benefit of good weather and the backup of good people if things go badly.

On Monday, we headed up Madison and Adams. Appalachia was the start, heading up Valley Way. I have had a few tough days on Madison and wanted to get it out of the way first, even though it’s lower than Adams. My traveling companions, Summerset, Kevin, and Claudette, humored me and up Valley Way we went. Airline didn’t appear to be broken out anyway.

The walk up was, for me, in brand new snowshoes. Tubbs Flex VRT XLs. They are aggressive, designed for rough, steep terrain. So far, so good with the new Tubbs. I like them better than the 6 year old MSR Lightning Ascents they replaced. I’ll post a proper review when I’ve completed more miles in them.

Valley Way was reasonably well-packed except for some barebooters that roughed things up at higher elevation. At lower elevation, there were still some rock tops and small blowdowns that would catch a snowshoe. At higher elevation the snow was much deeper, so rocks were no problem, although the snow was a bit loose, which made for the trail falling away once in a while on the steepest bits. Overall, travel was decent.

Upon arrival at Maddy Hut, we all added hardshells for the final 0.5 ascent to Madison. Just above the hut, we switched to microspikes from snowshoes. The climb was ice and rock, with just a few drifts below the summit that were easy enough to step through. This was my first winter ascent of Madison, so I was given the honor of standing on the summit first. The summit was windy, but not unbearably so. Perhaps 25 to 30? Nevertheless, we didn’t hang around long even though the views were good.

The climb back down to the hut was uneventful. We put snowshoes back on, and headed up towards Adams. Once we started the steeps well below Airline, we changed back to microspikes again. On the way up to Adams, we ran into a near grid finisher, Mark, with about 20 or so peaks to go. The Adams summit was less windy then Madison, and we took in beautiful 360 degree views and enjoyed wind-sculpted rime ice and snow.

The way down from Adams was a bit of a “choose your own adventure.” We followed existing footprints for the most part, but finding footprints was hard in places. We considered going down Airline, but no one felt strong enough to break trail. So, back down Valley Way we went.

I received lessons the hard way in snowshoe glissading descending down the steep bits of Valley Way below the hut. I kept falling like the winter travel rookie that I am, much to the delight and amusement of my far more experienced companions! Thankfully, they took mercy on me, with Claudette and Mark (who stuck with us for several miles) giving me tips on safely controlling the snowshoe slides with telemark technique. I can’t say I’m good at it yet, but I was improving! Sort of. Let me believe what I must. 😉

Once off the steeps, Valley Way was sidewalk to the bottom. Lots of other folks had been up and down during the day.

All in all, a great day out. Summerset nailed down a couple more grid peaks, and I bagged winter 48 peaks #14 & 15.

GPS track and stats here.


Summerset, Claudette, and Mark.


From Adams summit. Wildcats and Washington.


From Adams summit looking towards Jefferson.


From Adams summit. Wildcat, Washington, Jefferson panorama.


Washington from Adams summit.


From Adams summit. Mt. Madison to the left.


Climbing Adams up styrofoam snow. The cairns were hard to identify.


Summerset and Claudette.


Kevin adjusting his hood.


Not all the cairns were hard to spot!


Casting our shadows.

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