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Early morning on Mount Adams 8959 2048

Ken’s High Five — Part One, Cascade Express

One peak, two peak, three peak, four… and five. Ken is going for it! When you’re climb­ing three Cas­cade peaks in sev­en days, some­times you look at your most recent sum­mit and say Huh, was I real­ly on top of that two days ago…?”

Ken, Arindam, Shirish, Raman, Gokul, and guides Lani, Matt, and Niels start­ed their trip stuck in traf­fic. On the dri­ve south from Seat­tle to Mount Adams, they were delayed two pre­cious hours — caus­ing them to not even get to the trail­head until 4:30 PM. When prob­lems like this arise, it’s always good to remem­ber the say­ing main­tain a rigid state of flex­i­bil­i­ty.” The team quick­ly did some last minute pack­ing, lath­ered them­selves in sun­screen, and head­ed up the trail hop­ing to make it to Sun­rise Camp before the wee hours of the morn­ing. At 8 PM Lani, Matt, and Niels made the call to make camp and set­tle in for the night, opt­ing for a long sum­mit day rather than a gigan­tic approach day. 

The team approach­es Mount Adams. 

The next day was glo­ri­ous. Climb­ing under a full moon, we start­ed up Mount Adams men­tal­ly prepar­ing our­selves for a longer than usu­al sum­mit day. Ken and Lani reached the sum­mit in the ear­ly after­noon, what a suc­cess! They arrived back in camp around 5:30 PM, ready for a hot brew and a big din­ner. And then they were on to the next one!

Climb­ing Adams under a full moon.

Ear­ly morn­ing on Mount Adams.

Arindam, Shirish, Raman, and Gokul were only stay­ing for part of the Cas­cade Express, so the next day the team dropped them off at the Port­land Air­port before turn­ing the Mad­ness Mobile back north and head­ing for Mount Bak­er. With a lit­tle luck, the worst of the traf­fic was avoid­ed the on the way north. 

After a much need­ed late start, Ken, Lani, and Niels made it to Mount Bak­er high camp in the ear­ly after­noon and spent the rest of the day loung­ing in the sun­shine and drink­ing tea. And the next thing they knew, the gang was stand­ing on the sum­mit. Ken is one fast 60 year old! We made it to the sum­mit in four and a half hours, Lani and Niels’ fastest Bak­er climb they had ever worked! And then boom! They were back at camp and head­ed out to Bak­er Lake to camp for the night before head­ing into Mount Shuksan. 

Ken and Lani admir­ing big crevass­es on Baker.

Suc­cess on Baker!

Ken and Niels charged up the Shuk­san approach trail and again spent the after­noon at camp enjoy­ing beau­ti­ful views and drink­ing hot brews. And who would have thought it, the next morn­ing those two were stand­ing on top of Mount Shuk­san, gaz­ing at Baker’s sum­mit think­ing that not that long ago they were way over there on top of that one. 

Ken scop­ing the route on Mount Shuksan. 

Ken climb­ing the SE Ridge on Shuksan.

Ken did an impres­sive amount of train­ing to pre­pare for the Cas­cade Express. He is a retired mete­o­rol­o­gist who used to do a lot of climb­ing, but even­tu­al­ly his fam­i­ly and work took pri­or­i­ty and climb­ing got put on the back burn­er. After retir­ing, he decid­ed to go big and do five peaks in sev­en days in the Cas­cades to prove to him­self that he could still climb. Four times a week, Ken would don his back­pack filled with 50 pounds of sand and hike 1500 feet up his local hill in upstate New York. His train­ing has paid off immense­ly! Word around the Moun­tain Mad­ness office is that Ken crushed” his last climb on Eldorado. 

Now Ken is rest­ing up and get­ting ready for his last climb on Glac­i­er Peak. Good luck Ken! You got it this one too!

~ Words and images, MM Guide Niels Meyer