Picture this: you are very happily married in your early 30s, own a home, and you each have pretty amazing, stable jobs. Who could ask for anything more right? Why on earth would you sell your home, quit both your jobs, and move across the United States because you had the insane idea to start climbing MOUNTAINS? Not just hike mountains, but CLIMB them; to learn how to become a mountaineer. Well, we did just that.
In 2016 we celebrated our third anniversary in Jackson Hole, our first ski trip ever (we had always been “beach people”) and neither one of us had spent any time in the mountains prior to this vacation. It was life changing, earth shattering, mind blowing. We no longer wanted to spend time off from work at the beach; we swore we would only spend it in the mountains. On the flight home from this amazing vacation I randomly decided to watch the movie Everest which as most know, portrays the climbing season on the mountain in 1996. Cliché as it may be, that movie was the turning point in our lives. When we returned from our vacation back to Baltimore I was ready to job hunt and start applying to jobs in or near Seattle because after my ridiculous amounts of research and lack of sleep I knew that this was the best place to begin our training.
Fast forward 6 months after finalizing the sale of our home in Baltimore, packing up everything we owned, leaving our secure jobs, and relocating to Washington state: all we wanted to do was jump right in to training and starting to climb some peaks! We signed up to climb Mount Rainier with a guided group (because we obviously had no idea what we were doing, literally had only hiked one time prior in our lives). We obsessed over training plans, what gear we needed, and how to achieve the best physical results for reaching the summit of that mountain.
We were fortunate enough to make it to the top of Mt. Rainier on our very first try, the weather gods were super friendly, we had a great group of clients, and amazing guides that taught us what we needed to know to climb on that glaciated beauty!
Three days prior to our Rainier climb I saw that I had a four day weekend right afterward which motivated me to search for other guided climbs (we could be on a roll right?). Mountain Madness offered a three day Baker climb for the exact dates we were looking for…hmmm done and done!
As it turned out we were the only ones to sign up for the guided climb on Mount Baker and it ended up being one of our most favorite climbs and experiences to date. Considering we had been on a guided climb with another company just days prior we were prepared for an extremely regimented and slightly militant routine yet we encountered quite the opposite. Climbing with Mountain Madness (guides Robert Fitzgerald and Jacob Oram to be precise) was just delightful. We spent 30 hours in a tent right next to our guides due to a complete white out which we honestly thought that would prevent us from making it to the summit. Instead of being completely miserable we would yell and talk back and forth from our tents, share some coffee or some amazing dishes (I am not kidding, those boys could cook), and we all truly enjoyed vegging out and waiting for the storm to pass…if it did.
We were blown away by this type of “boutique” guiding style, we felt as though we were climbing with old friends which was almost better than the feeling of standing on the summit!
Who knew this little trip up Mount Baker would put us in the throws of attempting to achieve all of our climbing goals with Mountain Madness?
- Sarah Lee