Ever since we moved to Washington, we’ve had a thing for volcanoes (as you might have noticed) and ever since we spent a fantabulous night in a fire lookout last summer, we’ve had a thing for Mount Baker. Seriously, who wouldn’t – just look at it:
When we signed up for the mountaineering class this winter, we were excited to learn that Baker would be our “graduation” climb. Unfortunately I didn’t get that far since I am a recovering wuss, but JK and the gang have been preparing all spring. I was happy to learn that I would at least be able to join them in camp on Mount Baker for their climb.
I was really dragging ass on the hike in to camp on Saturday since I had spent the whole week withering away on the couch, eating nothing but mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding to appease my throbbing jaws after the wisdom teeth extraction. I was also carrying ten pounds more than my regular overnight pack weight – I brought my climbing gear in case we were going to do some crevasse rescue practice. We didn’t, so it was all in vain – but lord knows I needed some extra training.
After a week of absolutely insane warmth and sun, the weather unfortunately decided to go all Pacific Northwest on us as we started hiking, effectively removing any motivating views along the way. At least we got our first marmot sighting of the year, which pleased me to no end – they are my absolute favorite animals (apart from Bobbys and Wellingtons) and I feel a strong kinship with them (they’re fat, they eat plants, and they hibernate – sounds familiar).
We set up camp at 6,400 feet and enjoyed sporadic views of the mountain and our surroundings as the cloud cover came and went.
We went to bed at six in an attempt to get some snooze time; the climbers were scheduled to start moving up the mountain at 1AM.
I popped out of the tent to see them off, then went back to have the best alpine sleep of my life (I used JK’s stuff to make a double Thermarest-and-sleeping bag fort) while the poor suckers roped up and slogged on up the mountain in the dark.
I guess it’s not so bad when you get views like these along the way:
Finally they reached the summit of Mount Baker, 10,781 feet (3,286 m) – huzzah!
As the sun came up, I lazily rolled out of tent to watch the climbers making their way back down the mountain:
On the way down they could see all the beautiful (but slightly unnerving) crevasses they had passed by in the dark on the way up.
Now, of course, I really want to go on a big climb myself – hopefully I’ll get my chance later this year or next summer. I try to tell myself that the mountains aren’t going anywhere, but then I remember our hike to the crater rim of Mount St. Helens and realize that this might not be true…