Climbing Mt. Baker 2015 – Spring Training Continues

Last week on the upper slopes of Mount Baker, otherwise known as The Roman Wall, I was able to physically push myself. Several other climbers were on the mountain but had either turned around or were still heading up far below me. It was the only forecasted good “weather window” in a 10-day period and some of us were trying to take advantage of it to get in our spring training for climbing Mt Baker this summer.

I was out front kicking steps in the soft, uneven snow-pack. The higher I got the steeper the slope became, the higher the cold wind began to blow and the more tired I was getting. So far I had only drunk half a quart of water and ate a chocolate chip cookie in the nearly ten hours I had been walking uphill. More then once I came close to turning around this morning but the lure of the windswept summit of Mt Baker beckoned me onward and upward.

Still I felt very alone. The other climber I had started out with was, “dogging it” creating a wider distance between us minute by minute. As I neared the top of the wall, he had become nothing more then a spec on a white blanket of winter snow. Strangely this also gave me a mental boost thinking I was stronger then I actually am ( he was just really doing poorly that day for sure and knowing he was 20+years younger also made me feel a lot better! ).

I did make the Mt Baker summit, it was as far away as I remembered, but my pace had become slower and slower until I actually saw the very top. I took a few shots from the summit with my IPhone until the battery died in the strong winds and intense cold. Within minutes of leaving to head down I was in whiteout conditions ( inside the clouds ). I carefully but quickly made my way down the step section until I ran into a couple of other climbers including my climbing partner.

As we descended I had to stop to re-energize a few times. A few bites of a candy bar, a small packet of nuts and half a quart of water were enough to get me back down…and just knowing a hot meal, shower and a set of wheels were waiting for me on the horizon!

If climbing Mt Baker 2015 is one of your goals, I encourage you to continue your spring training! 

climbing_mt_baker_fitness_training

Mt Baker Climbs 2015

eldorado peak climb

Thinking of climbing Mt Baker this year?  The Northwest Mountain Shop & Guide Service is conveniently located within an hour of the trail head!  For Mt Baker climbs 2015, we have 7 scheduled climbs.  Of course, we are always available to customize a private climb as well!

06/27/2015 – 3 day climb
06/27/2015 – 3 day climb
07/03/2015 – 3 day climb
08/01/2015 – 3 day climb
08/14/2015 – 3 day climb
09/05/2015 – 3 day climb
09/18/2015 – 3 day climb

At 10,781 feet Mount Baker is truly one of the most picturesque mountains in all the Cascade Range. Baker has the second largest glacial system in the lower 48 States second only to that of Mount Rainier. In 1998 Mt. Baker’s annual snowfall exceeded the world record held on Mount Rainier since the early 1970′s with an amount of 95-feet. The mountain is the third-highest mountain in Washington State and the fifth-highest in the Cascade Range. Mount Baker presents a fantastic objective for those seeking a challenging climb in a pristine alpine environment.

We guide two different routes on Mount Baker, the Coleman/Deming Glacier on the Northside of the peak and the Easton Glacier on the Southern flanks. Both routes offer a great introduction to roped glacier travel and basic mountaineering. On the North side route we meet in the small town of Glacier, WA to begin the climb. On the Easton South side we meet at the Ranger Station in the town of Sedro-Woolley. After a 3-4 hour hike we reach our scenic high camp at about the 5,000-6,000 foot level. Our camp is located at the base of the glacier and out evening will be spent setting up camp, covering some basic mountaineering skills and eating an early dinner before bedtime.

The Easton Glacier Route is climbed using three days which gives us more time on the mountain to refine our basic mountaineering skills. We also have the option of using day two or three as a “weather day” as we have on our Mount Shuksan climbs for many years now. The approach to the Easton Glacier begins in meadows and eventually ends up in dense old growth forest, then high alpine meadows to reach the snow. Our high camp is in a wonderful location between the 5000-6000 foot level. We have the option to climb on the second day if we are feeling well and the weather looks good, otherwise we train more on day two and go for the top on our final day. After our summit attempt we climb back down to our high camp. On the final day we hike out and grab a bite at “Bobs” near Sedro-Woolley to conclude our adventure.

The North side Coleman/ Deming Glacier route can be done as two or three day climb. Like the Easton route we have the option of climbing on the second day. On day two (Summit Day!) we get a pre-dawn start and your guide leads the way up the glacier by using a headlamp attached to his climbing helmet. We make our way up the glacier and finally to The “Roman Wall” and then the final summit crater. We return to our high camp by late morning, pack up, and hike down the same day. Either option our professional guides will introduce the basic mountaineering skills necessary to make the climb. 

Do you want to learn mountaineering? Mount Baker can be guided as a four day Intro to Mountaineering Course or six day Expedition Mountaineering Course. Taking a mountaineering course will help prepare you for the challenges of climbing higher peaks. NW Mountain Guide courses allow for further instruction of climbing and mountaineering skills. Including step kicking, ice axe techniques, self-arrest, crampon usage, glacier travel, crevasse rescue and rope techniques.