Weekend on Mount Baker

You know when you have one of those big projects staring you in the face, waiting for you to make your move? I do. Mine was Mount Baker. Very prominent in the skyline from Vancouver. I have seen it there my whole life, sitting just far enough away that I couldn’t make out all its details. Just kind of hazy. Dream like. In fact, I see it every day on my way to work. It’s as though it has been waiting for me to even suggest climbing it. Well that day finally came.

Many months ago some friends and I started hatching the idea and put things in motion that brought us up to this summer. Our plan of attack was the Coleman Deming route, and this past July long weekend we made our move…

Friday morning our bags were packed and ready to go. Only I still had to get through a full work day first. Grrr. Fast forward 8 hours later. I picked up one of my climbing partners, Jason, and we hit the road. We would meet the rest of the group over the border in Washington.

Border line up. Zero. Thanks America. A short drive and we were at my sister in laws’ family trailer in Maple falls. We met up with the rest of our climbing group, my cousin Ryan, his wife Julia, and his brother in law Andre.  The objective for the evening was a quick dinner, review of the game plan for the weekend, check out the latest weather conditions anticipated for the weekend, and see what gear could be 86’d from our packs to lighten the load. We called it a night pretty early as the next 48 hours were going to take a lot out of us.

Saturday morning we were up early. The weather was goo and we headed out. We stopped in at the Wake and Bakery for breakfast. Epic breakfast burritos! A staple really for anyone hiking or climbing in the Mt Baker Hwy corridor.

We continued on down the highway a short distance and pulled in at the Ranger station to drop off our volunteer check in form and find out if there was any new developments on the mountain since the last update Ryan had printed off before we left. No changes. Blue sky weather for the weekend. We left the Ranger station and a short distance later we turned on Glacier creek road and up to the trail head.

It was a short hike through the canopy and my pack was surprisingly not as heavy as I expected or as heavy as previous trips. We were now leaving the comfort of the shade and emerging up to Heliotrope Ridge. The views opened up immediately and we were now getting a good vantage of what laid ahead.

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We finally hit the snow line and the makings of Lower camp. There were tents everywhere tucked down along the creekside. Folks were busily separating their camp gear from their climbing gear and getting themselves organized for the next days push. It was getting hot. We filled our water bottles in the creek and continued to high camp. About half way up from low camp to high camp we made the decision to rope up as we were now seeing signs of crevasses.

We finally arrived at high camp mid afternoon and found a few open spots that were semi flat. We got busy leveling out room for our tents and melting snow for water and dinner. The plan was to have an early meal and an early bed. We won’t be in the tents for long. Dinner done, we relaxed a little while and settled in to our tents for “rest”. I say this because there was no real way to get much of anything that resembled sleep as it was way to bright and hot. So we rested.

 

Sunday. 12:30am. You could start to hear people getting themselves together to get ready for summit day. The dull roar of camp stoves. Headlamps whipping past the roof of our tent like distant rescue parties in search of a lost mate. We tried to wait a little longer, maybe eek out a few extra minutes of sleep, but the inevitability was that it was time to get moving. It was now 230am and we had to leave our tents for the darkness. An Alpine Start.

By a little after 4am it was starting to get light out. We made our way along the main trail up and joined the rest of the caterpillar of people that were slowly making their way up the mountain side. Now sitting somewhere around 8500- 9000 ft we took a break. It was amazing. The distance that you could see was unbelievable.

 

We had one final push…

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and…

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We made it! At about 7:15am, we reached the summit of Mt Baker. A truly amazing weekend we had. A new personal goal reached. My first ever 10000+ ft climb. We were rewarded with one of the best views I have ever had the pleasure to see. One more mountain checked off my list!

Cheers.

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Here is a short video I put together of our trip:

 

 

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