Leader – Scott Maxner
Co-Leader – Sherry Maxner
Participants – Ken Hodges, Tomoko Nakajima
Success! On August 1st, under clear deep blue skies with temperatures in the 70’s and a slight wind, the four climbers of the Mt. Baker team (Sherry, Ken, Tomoko, and Scott) reached the summit at 12:30pm. Incredibly, due to a heavy snow storm predicted for the original summit day, the team had to make some very important timing decisions to achieve this sought after peak.
Several days before the team met in Seattle, the weather for the scheduled climbing dates began to deteriorate as waves of low pressure passed through the region. Through a flurry of emails, the team discussed climbing options, including other potential peaks, but never lost sight of the original goal to make Mt. Baker happen. After meeting in Seattle at 1:00am, Sunday, July 31st, the team agreed to wait until breakfast to determine how to proceed. The updated weather forecast for Tuesday (the original summit day) confirmed that heavy snow was moving in for the mid and upper mountain with severe thunderstorms in the valleys. So how does a team of well- conditioned climbers make this trip happen in about 36 hours? Here’s how!
Day 1 (July 31st): The team left Seattle and drove to Glacier, signed in with the Mt. Baker National Forest Information Center, grabbed “blue bags” and went to the trail head. The short 3.1mi hike from the trail head (3700’) to the Hogsback (5900’) was slow and steady. Surrounded by beautiful alpine meadows in full bloom, lots of running water, and one good sized mountain goat, two tents were co-located and preparations were made for the summit climb. Ken had to flake out the new 50m rope many times to help make it manageable. The rope was divided and laid ready to go. As the sun went down, we all enjoyed the dramatic spectacle of the summit massif highlighted in a myriad of colors. We were headed there tomorrow!
Day 2 (August 1st): Under a starlit sky, everyone awoke at 2am, enjoyed a good breakfast, took care of other “personal needs” and made their way to tie in. Temps in the low 50s and headlamps on, the summit day journey began at 4am! Scott lead the ascent. Despite the warmer air temps, surface conditions made for excellent footing. Objective hazards were clearly visible as the rope team meandered upward to the Col (Coleman Saddle 9000’), carried coils to the top of Pumice Ridge (9700’) and tackled the Roman Wall. At the crest of the Roman Wall, many trails converged leading towards the summit; Sherry wisely placed wands along the route (incredibly important marking the down-climb direction). Proudly, the team reached the summit (Grant Peak 10,781’) at 12:30. After lunch, Sherry lead the safe descent to camp at the Hogsback. Isn’t it wonderful when the tents first come into view. Ahhh, back to the tents at 5:25 pm—Sherry collapsed in her tent. But not for long…
After a short rest and “fueling up,” and knowing severe weather was imminent overnight, camp was broken down, packs were re-loaded and everyone trudged back to the trailhead. Now 9:00 pm with headlamps aglow, the team reached the trailhead exhausted and hungry, but in good spirits! The car was loaded and the return trip back to Seattle via Lynden was made.