Early season on the Easton Glacier route of Mt. Baker
Embarking on this trip, the weather forecast wasn’t encouraging. Snow and clouds up high, rain down low; it seemed that old man winter wasn’t quite through with us yet. Nevertheless, our guests, Peter, John, and Adel weren’t deterred in the least. John and Peter hail from Ireland, and Adel calls Seattle his home, so they were accustomed to their fair share of wet weather. With hardshell outerwear and plenty of gloves we began the early-season, snowy approach up Rocky Creek toward the Easton Glacier.
The trek was truly Cascadian, with mist and clouds swirling amongst the mountain hemlock, occasionally lifting to afford us a view of the terrain ahead. Hoary marmots sat alert on rocks. As we gained elevation toward our camp atop one of the lateral moraines created when the Easton Glacier extended further down valley, hoary marmots, the occasional pika, and rosy finches greeted us at breaks, wondering what this colorful group of five travelers was doing in their home.
The snow and clouds couldn’t stop the gourmet backcountry cooking! Quinn Rohlf photo
Settling into camp, we erected the guests’ tent and began melting snow for water. The constant mist and occasional snow didn’t deter us from preparing a healthy dose of warm appetizers and dinner while our guests warmed themselves inside the tent. While filling our bellies and replenishing our bodies, we talked about plans for the following day: our summit bid, and how to prep our packs the night before for a smooth departure in the morning.
Clouds begin to break as the team negotiates the icefall part way up the Easton Glacier. Chris Marshall photo
Summit day began with 50m visibility leaving camp. As our teams traveled up the glacier, the sun threatened to poke through, casting a soft light in the vast glacial landscape. Icefalls and crevasses appeared to our right, so surreal they had the appearance of a painted backdrop. Through the clouds we climbed, periodically breaking for fuel and water. Traveling toward the base of the Roman Wall, the steepest part of the climb, we emerged above the top of the cloudbank, with blue skies above and renewed excitement for the summit.
John stoked to be feeling the sun. Quinn Rohlf photo
Approaching the base of the Roman wall after breaking through the clouds. Chris Marshall photo
Standing on top of Mount Baker, looking down onto a sea of clouds, the inevitable feeling of accomplishment and success was shared with laughs, smiles, and summit photos. I was reminded of the value of perseverance and dealing with adversity while in the mountains. To feel the sun’s rays illuminate our spirits while casting a gaze down onto a world blanketed by clouds is a special experience that comes with hard work and determination. We were on top of the world, and had earned it too! Now only to descend back into the world of white…
The team reaching the top of Mt. Baker under blue skies and above the clouds. Chris Marshall photo
A mountaineer’s salute on the summit of Mt. Baker. Chris Marshall photo
This was a summit that reminded us why we climb; beautiful views, great company, and personal accomplishment; what an awesome day! Our summer climbing and mountaineering season is in full swing with numerous peaks that beg to be explored.
High above the sea of clouds, looking down towards the summit crater, Mt. Baker. Quinn Rohlf photo
~MM Guide Chris Marshall