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Women Making It Happen on Mount Baker!

Our Wom­ens’ Pro­grams here at Moun­tain Mad­ness are going strong! Taru Helne, along with guide Aili Far­quhar, climbed Mt. Bak­er via the Eas­t­on Glac­i­er on Mon­day, August 8. 

Day 1

The team left Seat­tle on Sat­ur­day morn­ing (August 6) and head­ed for the busy trail­head at Schrieber’s Mead­ow on the south side of the moun­tain. Per­fect tem­per­a­tures in the 60’s and a slight­ly over­cast day greet­ed the women as they nego­ti­at­ed stream cross­ings made dif­fi­cult by heavy packs and snowmelt. After the chal­lenge of this glacial stream they ascend­ed the most­ly snow-free switch­backs up to open mead­ows still cov­ered in snow. They walked along the knife-edge Rail­road Grade to a dry site at the 6,000-foot high Sandy Camp. After a huge din­ner of spicy veg­e­tar­i­an sausage with cous­cous, they fell asleep to the sound of run­ning water drift­ing up from the val­ley below. 

Day 2

After a rest­ful evening and a good break­fast Taru and Aili spent a full day of skills instruc­tion and explor­ing the alpine zone around Sandy Camp. Taru worked on snow trav­el tech­niques and ice axe use before mas­ter­ing self arrest in its many forms (includ­ing how to stop your­self from slid­ing down the moun­tain if you fall head first on your back!). She also learned how to con­struct a t‑slot anchor and tie off a climb­ing part­ner who has fall­en into a crevasse. Taru and Aili spent the evening watch­ing mar­mots play and the rangers in a tent near­by laugh for a few hours while savor­ing some tasty Thai food and rest­ing up for sum­mit day.

Day 3

Two cell phone alarms rang loud and clear in the dark­ness of 1:30 am. After break­fast and prepa­ra­tions the team left camp at 3am and cram­ponned up the upper Rail­road Grade and onto the Eas­t­on glac­i­er. They main­tained a steady pace, stop­ping to eat, drink, and pre­vent blis­ters. Taru did a fine job ascend­ing the some­times switch­backed trail and steep foot­ing of the Roman Wall with excel­lent cram­pon­ning and ice axe skills. The team reached the sum­mit before 10am – just in time to enjoy the first heat of the day and greet anoth­er Moun­tain Mad­ness team led by Jaime Pol­lite! After some sum­mit shots and snacks Taru and Aili descend­ed the Roman Wall to the crater and a deli­cious lunch of pep­per jack and hum­mus bagels with spicy mus­tard. A few hours of hot sun­ny glac­i­er trav­el took them back to Sandy Camp, where they packed up and head­ed back down to the trail­head and the promise of a nice cold beer at the Train Wreck in Burlington!