One mediocre weather report nearly scared us off, but with things looking good for Sunday, Jessica, Lauren (fourteen410), David (Opus), and I set off for Mt. Baker early Saturday morning.
We certainly weren’t alone at the trailhead, though we were pleased to find that we had only a 3/4-mile snowy road walk to reach the Schriebers Meadow trail. Temps were nice and cool for the hike in. We entered whiteout conditions as we ascended Railroad Grade. After passing a couple camps, we found a suitably flat spot at ~6700’ to set up.
The sun made a couple abbreviated appearances throughout the afternoon, but mostly it stayed socked in with the occasional snow flurry. But around sunset time, we got a glimmer of hope as the clouds started to clear. I awoke from my nap to stick my head out of the tent—whoa, we were indeed on the side of a large mountain, surrounded by a sea of peaks.
We awoke at 1:30 to crystal clear skies. Not sure where the time went, but we didn’t start climbing until 3:15. It was a calm, peaceful morning—one that reminds you why you go through all the effort. A sliver of a waning moon rose in the east, followed shortly by the sun. It was incredibly clear—all of the Washington volcanoes visible!
The route was straightforward and direct with a well-defined boot track. There were several obvious crevasses, but snow bridges were intact. Still, we moved deliberately over a few areas of sagging snow. Snow on the Roman Wall, the steepest and last real climb, was slightly soft as we ascended around 8:00, and there were still decent steps to be had. On the “football field” on top, we unroped and joined the throngs on the true summit at about 9:00, soaking in the abundant sunshine and sweet views.
Snow was softening for sure on the way back to camp, but fortunately nothing too squishy while still on the glacier. The trek from camp back down to the car was vastly different than the ascent the day before. We could see more than 50 feet in front of us and we roasted in the sun. Snowmobiles buzzed around us, showing off their (un)impressive moves. We were slightly peeved that they obliterated some of the boot tracks that our sleep-deprived selves wanted to follow. But this female-dominated team was offered a ride back down by some friendly riders (declined). We trudged on through the super sloppy snow until finally reaching the car. Glorious glorious food and beer were soon to be had to celebrate our conquest!
Excellent work! What a slog the Easton can be in hot conditions. Sounds like snow conditions were enjoyable. Congratulations, not only on the summit, but the nice weather window that allowed you to enjoy the climb, step by step.
Joined: 04 Mar 2006 Posts: 3448 | TRs | Pics Location: The big rock candy mountain
Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:29 am
Once again I was the sole representative of the Y chromosome. What an awesome trip! Some mixed weather to put up with Saturday, but waking up to totally clear skies and perfect conditions for the climb made us forget about all that. And a fun surprise to run into some familiar OSAT faces at the trailhead and on the summit. Thanks for the steps!
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