Leaders – Ken Cragin/Scott Maxner
Participants – Sherry Maxner, Norm Michaels, Andrew Barlow, Mike Lafleur, Rhonda Stacy-Coyle, Sam Jones, J.R. Stockwell
Ken Cragin and Scott Maxner led a SSMC trip to the northern Cascades in the summer of 2008. The main objectives were Mts. Baker and Shuksan.
Scott, Sherry Maxner and I flew out a few days early to climb Mt. Hood. Keith Sullivan had rented a house in the area while his daughter was attending a snowboard camp, so Scott, Sherry and I crashed with Keith. Club member Sam Jones was traveling in the area and he was going to join us on the climb. He and his family also crashed with Keith. We had a nice party.
We made good progress up the mountain and reached the Hogback before dawn. We rested a while but one team member was experience altitude sickness and couldn’t go on, so we all went down.
Next day we drove up to Seattle to meet the rest of the Baker-Shuksan team, Ken, Mike Lafleur, Andy Barlow, Rhonda Stacy-Coyle and J.R. Stockwell. When we arrived at the trailhead we saw the washed-out bridge right at the start of the trail. The river was raging whitewater cascading over rocks and boulders. There was no way to get across.
Video by Andrew Barlow
A hundred feet downstream a fallen tree reached from bank to bank. It had been there awhile and was smooth and wet. It was also the only way across. Crossing that log was the most intense part of the trip. If you fell in, with a heavy pack on your back, you would die. Fortunately, none of us did.
We missed a sharp right uphill turn out of the valley and onto the ridge. Continuing forward we eventually had to climb a steep, muddy gulley to get up to the ridge. I was really glad to reach tree line and get my boots back on snow for the hike up the snowfield to our campsite at 6,000 ft. on this mountain’s Hogback.
Our route to the summit was via the Coleman and Deming glaciers and up the Roman wall to the summit plateau. The plan for the next day was to hike up to the Black Buttes at 7,200 ft., set up high camp and prepare for an early start to the 10,781 ft. summit. With mild weather and good snow conditions we easily accomplished that.
The weather for summit day remained very cooperative as we roped up in the early morning and snow conditions couldn’t have been better. Scott’s knee was paining him so he stayed at high camp. Ken led the rest of us in two rope teams and we made good progress, arriving on the summit a little after sunrise. It was cool, breezy and beautiful.
We returned to high camp without incident, packed up and headed down. When we reached tree line we stumbled around the ridge until we found the actual trail down, and there we were, at that tree crossing the river again. Tired from a long day, it was even scarier, but we all made it and retired to a nearby motel for the evening.
We met in the morning to discuss Shuksan. Scott’s leg injury prevented him from attempting it. Rhonda had a bad blister and couldn’t put her boots on. I was physically beat from Hood and Baker and felt I’d be a liability on Shuksan.
A small team headed up Shuksan the next day and made camp, but the weather turned bad and they retreated without a summit attempt.
Photo album courtesy of Norm Michaels