Soaked and Stoked — A Family Climb of Mount Baker
Madness guide Mallorie Estenson shares a soggy but successful Mount Baker climb with a family and their friend. Interested in a climb with your family? Also check out Mount Adams and Ruth Mountain!
On Thursday, Arthur Herlitzka and I drove down the Mount Baker Highway, coffee in-hand and windshield wipers working. After a full month of trips in perfect weather, the ‘Pacific North Wet’ was finally living up to its reputation.
I thought to myself, “I hope everyone brought good rain gear.”
As we got to the trailhead, we transitioned into boots and full raingear and set off down the trail at a comfortable clip. Arthur and I were traveling with a party of five, the Dahl family and their friend Michaela Flum. Maybe the group was really strong, or maybe nobody felt like hanging around in the rain, because we only paused for a break once on the way to camp.
Fortunately, the rain let up long enough for us to get through snow school, where we covered the basics of walking on snow and self-arrest. We had Thai vegetable curry for dinner and then got to bed early, hoping that the break in the weather would last.
Fast forward to 2:00 a.m.: I unzipped my tent and rainfly to reveal a sky full of stars. It was a good start to an excellent day.
A beautiful sunrise on Mount Baker.
High on the Roman Wall, my team pauses to take a look at Colfax and Lincoln Peaks in the foreground; Anacortes, Bellingham and Canada beyond.
After a quick cup of coffee, a ham and cheese breakfast croissant, and a few crampon adjustments, we were on our way to the top just before 4 a.m.
Arthur roped up with the Dahl parents, Dan and Megan. I was excited when I learned I would have an all-lady rope team with the Dahl daughters, Tatum and Scarlett, and their friend Michaela.
Once again, we set off at a speedy clip and found ourselves on the summit just before 9:30 a.m. With a few quick breaks along the way and a pause for blister mitigation, we made excellent time climbing from Hogsback camp at roughly 5,500 feet to the top at 10,781 feet.
Our team on top of Mount Baker (10,781’) after climbing the Coleman Deming route.
After summiting, we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon around camp and happily climbed into our sleeping bags before sunset.
I woke up around 5 a.m. on our final day to the sound of wind blasting my tent and rain pelting down from above. I willed myself back to sleep hoping that it would clear up by 7 a.m., when we’d planned on getting up. Once again, I woke up around 6:30 to the sounds of the storm… And when it was finally 7 a.m., it was still raging. Thank goodness we’d gotten our perfect weather window the day before.
As we began the hike out, I think our party was both soaked and stoked; drenched by the downpour but excited that we’d made it to the top. It was an excellent trip.
Soaked & stoked with Michaela and the Dahl family!
~Words and images, MM Guide Mallorie Estenson