Last Tuesday and Wednesday, July 29 and 30, Darvel and Darryl Lloyd made their 50th anniversary climb of Mt. Adams.
The pair went up with flower-expert HC Tupper (on his 50th birthday) and his son, Evan. It was the hottest day of the year, and the group left their crampons at home.
That was a big mistake, but because they were forced to climb on the rock rib of Suksdorf Ridge, they discovered the highest plant on Mt. Adams -- "shortfruited smelowskia" at 11,000 feet! The little white flowers were growing in numbers about 600 feet below Pikers Peak (also known as the "false summit.")
The group's camp was at 8,000 feet and they reached the summit in six hours on Wednesday. Earlier, Darryl had slight dizziness from the altitude, but it was nothing compared to 1953.
The twins were taken up the mountain for the first time in 1953 by their forester father, Les Lloyd. He was a seat-of-the-pants-climber, and he outfitted the boys in denim, flimsy cotton gloves and awful boots.
At their open camp on Suksdorf Ridge, sand blew in their faces all night. On the summit plateau, they were almost blown off the mountain. At the top -- sick from altitude and very cold -- the boys were pretty miserable-but-happy-anyway 10-year-old kids.
The following year, the boys climbed Hood and St. Helens (more misadventures), and eventually became bald, old mountain bums and volcano nuts.
A new case study by White Salmon geologist David Zimbelman, focused on Mt. Adams and two other Pacific rim volcanoes, calls "volcanic edifice collapse ... one of the world's most catastrophic natural hazards."
Recent and potential collapse events on Mt. Adams make it "ideally situated for study." Dr. Zimbelman (DZimbelman@gorge.net or 493-9269) is the lead author of an illustrated paper published recently in the EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union (10 June, 2003).
Zimbelman reminds climbers like the Lloyds that Mt. Adams' summit "hosts severely (hydrothermally) altered, weakened. and over-steepened zones where future collapses are likely to occur."
The study includes a new color map and photo of Adams, both diagramed to show the high-risk sectors on the mountain.