Mt. Baker August 17-18, 2018
I met Jaylynn on an Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier in May. During the four days on the mountain, we realized we share a lot of mountain goals and that we both had schedules that allowed us to live the lifestyle we loved. We talked about coordinating a trip when her and her boyfriend Cory come back to Washington later that summer. Those plans later turned out to be climbing Mt. Baker.
Our original plan was to climb on the north side of the mountain on the Coleman Demming route. The route was quickly deteriorating so we changed plans and switched to the Easton Glacier on Mt. Bakers south side. This switch is fairly common in the later season as the crevasses on the Coleman route can become impassable.
Day 1 -
We woke up and headed to Seatac to pick up Cory and Jaylynn who had flown in late the evening before. Joe finally got to meet Cory and it was evident within the first few minutes of driving that this was going to be a solid trip. We stopped at Safeway for coffee and snacks and headed to the trailhead up north. Through the multi hour drive, the team bonded over my wonderful driving, climbing stories and the love for pizza.
When we arrived at the Schrieber’s Meadow Trailhead, we divvied up group gear and headed out on our way towards high camp at 6000’. We had a long 7 mile approach to gain just 2000’ vertical feet and loaded packs that we weren’t so used to. The wildfire smoke from the fires in British Columbia were much more present up north and the 90 degree day felt like a drag with the hot and hazy air. Our hike to camp took a good portion of the day and when we arrived, we were accompanied by an RMI team that would be heading up a day after us. We chatted with our friends at RMI, set up camp, made dinner and headed into bed early to prep for our 2 AM alpine start.
Our alarm went off in the morning and we surprisingly jumped right to it. We forced down some snacks, geared up and headed out onto the glacier. On the beginning of the ascent, we passed an active volcanic vent and then a little further we reached the steeper section up the Roman Wall. There was a NOLS team climbing behind us that was finishing up a month long mountaineering course and one team ahead of us. The higher we got, the smokier it was. A combination of light wind and elevation gain put us in the middle of the haze. As the sun began to rise, we noticed the terrible quality of the air we were in but we were close to the summit and decided to keep pushing upwards. Luckily, as we approached the summit we were in the clear.
We hung out on top for awhile before we heading back down. I was taking in the views of the smoke covered foothills and thinking about how well the four of us worked as a team thus far on the trip. Mt. Baker was our second personal trip and had gone much better than the first. I realized the importance of having good climbing partners and felt at ease as we headed back down to camp.
Our descent to camp was smooth and for the most part, uneventful. When we reached the tent, we packed up quickly to hit the hike out to the parking lot. About an hour in, we found that the walk out would be grueling. IT. NEVER. ENDS. 7 miles slogging down scree and rock with our big packs, felt like forever. It crushed us. We just kept pushing on as we dreamt of nachos and making it back to the car.
Arriving at the parking lot, we dropped the packs and just took it all in. Caffeine and food were essential so we stopped at the nearest gas station where I fueled up on sweet tea before stopping at the local Mexican restaurant to devour some super nachos. We debriefed on the climb, decided this would be the first of many trips together and prepared ourselves for a long drive back to Puyallup.