Mt. Adams Climbing Safety


All climbers should have adequate equipment, including the following:

  • Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope 
  • Map, Compass, Route Markers 
  • Climbing Boots 
  • First Aid Kit 
  • Waterproof matches and fire starter 
  • Pocket Knife 
  • Extra Food and Water 
  • Extra Clothing 
  • Emergency signal device 
  • Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Hat 
  • Emergency Shelter 
  • Flashlight, extra batteries, and bulb 
  • Human waste pack-out bags (to remove solid wastes) 


  • Stay Dry. Wet clothes lose about 90% of their insulating value. Make sure your rain gear works. 
  • Beware of the Wind. Wind carries heat away by driving cold air through clothing. Wear a wind breaker. Protect your skin. 
  • Prevent Exhaustion. Exercise drains your energy reserves. Stop and rest frequently while you still have energy. If hypothermia develops, STOP TRAVELING. Help the victim reserve energy and heat. Send for help. 
  • Eat and Drink. Drink and eat throughout the day. Dehydration and insufficient energy lead to fatigue and depression, poor circulation and lousy decisions. 
  • End Exposure. Seek shelter if conditions are bad. If you can't stay warm and dry, turn back. Give up your objective, not your life! 
  • Watch for Symptoms. Watch for these symptoms among your companions: uncontrollable shivering; vague, slurred speech; memory lapses; incoherence, or irrational behavior; fumbling hands; frequent stumbling; drowsiness or exhaustion; hallucinations; blueness of skin; dilation of pupils; weak or irregular pulse; unconsciousness. 


  • Prevent further heat loss. Get the victim out of the wind and precipitation. Change out of wet clothes and into dry, warm clothes. NEVER give the victim alcoholic beverages. 
  • Increase heat production. If the victim is conscious, give warm, sweet drinks. Keep the semi-conscious victim awake. Put the victim in a warm sleeping bag. Attempt to warm the victim by providing heat to the chest area. Do NOT attempt to warm extremities firSt. 
  • Seek medical help. Heart and lung failure are significant threats to hypothermia victims. 


  • Mt. Adams is located in a remote area of southwestern Washington State. There are no cell phone towers within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Even at altitude, you may not get reception. Do not rely on your cell phone in an emergency while climbing.  


Nearly everyone who climbs Mt. Adams will be affected to some extent by the change in altitude, and all climbers need to be aware that altitude sickness can pose a very real threat. There are four recognizable stages of altitude sickness, ranging from acute mountain sickness (rare below 6500-8000 feet) to pulmonary and cerebral edema which may cause serious damage or death.

  • Symptoms. Symptoms may include: headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weakness, shortness of breath, loss of color or bluish color around the lips, chills, difficulty falling asleep, increased pulse and respiratory rates, blurred vision, confusion and disorientation. More serious symptoms associated with pulmonary and cerebral edema include a tight feeling in the chest, dry cough which becomes moist and crackling with a noisy "bubbling" sound, rapid pulse (120-160/minute), frothy or blood-tinged sputum, severe headache, confusion, disorientation, and convulsions. 
  • Treatment. Descend to lower elevation immediately--a descent of even 2000 feet may make a considerable difference. Slow down to reduce the body's demand for oxygen. Make a conscious effort to breathe deeper and faster. In more severe cases, give oxygen, if available. 
  • Prevention. Awareness is the only way to catch early symptoms. Go up slowly, taking time to acclimate to the higher elevation. Planning a two-day ascent, with the first night spent at a mid-point on the mountain, will help the acclimation process. Increase fluid intake and carbohydrate consumption; decrease fats in your diet. Avoid alcohol consumption (even alcohol consumed several days prior to climbing may affect the body's use of oxygen at high elevations). Smokers and anyone using depressant drugs are more apt to suffer from altitude difficulties. 


  • Rolling rocks are a hazard in certain areas, particularly during the latter part of the summer.
  • Heed the first signs of weather changes, darkness, loss of route, and fatigue while you can still place yourself in a protected and secure position.
  • Always maintain visual contact with the person in front of you and the person behind you.
  • Protect your eyes from snow blindness and your body from sunburn.


A climbing register is located at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station. For your safety, please remember to sign-in at the Register before your outing.  Forest Service personnel use this information to check on overdue climbers.