Trip: Mount Baker - North Ridge Trip Date: 06/22/2018 Trip Report:
We started off on a bad note with Robie arriving at the Park n Ride 45 minutes late. Sean had just returned from a leisurely trip to Italy the day before. I haven't slept for more than 4 hours since my baby was born 2 months ago. We were all exhausted, and we hadn't even started.
And yet, spirits were high. It was both Robie and Sean's first time on Baker and I had only done the standard route.
Quickly we ran into some hairy creek crossings in the dark. Water was running hard. It had been 90 degrees in Seattle this week so lot's of melt to be expected.
With skis on our back, 45 lbs each, the approach was tough. I had worn ultralight running shoes, and only brought one pair of socks. Well, they were soaked. Robie reassured me our feet were going to be wet all day anyways.
We quickly rose above treeline, above the Heliotrope campground where we saw maybe 10 tent groups, slowly waking up. As we got onto the Coleman Glacier we could spot a group of 2 above us traversing towards the same route.
The North Ridge, looking rather mellow from this perspective. The sun was rising, the sky was turning colors, Mt Baker was showing her face, we were on route and feeling good.
And then we were on route. We thought we were going to follow an older bootpack up left but as we neared it, it looked cumbersome and out of the way, so we opted for a more direct route towards the other 2 parties ahead of us.
Collective exhaustion was super high as we were running on 36 hours of no sleep (expect Sean had a 3 hr nap). We took a break below the ice pitch and made Ramen. A bit of back and forth and Robie agreed to lead the ice pitch. It looked steeper than the photos we had seen. After some solid sticks, we realized it was Hero Ice! We had 7 screws, so Robie went for it in one pitch. Baller. Then it was Sean's turn.
Then I snagged this photo, which I really like. It captures the moment. Sea of clouds, North Cascades poking in the distance, sunshine, glory, hero ice, stoke was very high.
Above the ice pitch we got into some mixed conditions. It was my turn to lead and it felt like about a foot of wet snow ontop of a delaminating shield of ice. If I smacked hard enough I could get to the ice for a screw, or if I hammered the shit out of picket it would go in. 50 meters each, Robie and I swapping leads up the upper ridge.
This upper ridge section was glorious, for a moment at least. Team exhaustion/fitness was waning and we were moving slower and slower with each passing step. The sun was raging, our skin was burning, wind was picking up, and the day was passing.
Then the white out came. Heavy winds, colder temps, all of the layers on. I couldn't see Robie, one step at a time. Unsure what time it was, or how long we had been on route, and wondering how we were going to ski down and get back to Seattle.
Occasionally the clouds would move and the glacier's would appear. Like monsters with no rhyme or reason they tower above the world.
And then we summited.
Pure alpine joy. Now an 8000 ft ski descent.
The ski down was quick and efficient. We got back to the main trail and cruised out to the parking lot just by dark. 10pm. 20 hour go. What a fabulous day. Found pizza in Belligham, pulled off the highway for an hour nap on the drive home but made it back to Seattle at 3am. What an alpine adventure!
Gear Notes: 7 screws, 3 pickets Approach Notes: Good shape