Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Ascent on Mt. Baker

When I was younger, but still older than most, I went on a mountain climbing expedition with the company where I was Executive Director for taking inner city kids to the wilderness.

I climbed to 11,203 feet in the Colorado Rockies, lost 17 pounds carrying a 55-lb. pack up and (it was lighter coming down, but not by much) dealt with a child having sickle-cell anemia, a young lady wanting to run away from home for good and a team leader who absolutely refused to take my EMT evaluation of the ill child seriously.

So, I left that company and did other things.

But climbing mountains must be in my blood... thinner at higher altitudes - LOL!

I have read lots of books about Everest and other major peaks, cringed to hear about the recent Nepal earthquake and all that it meant for all the folks involved, and still I risked my life once more to "get to the top, just because it was there..."

This is not me climbing... it was a group of folks learning
how to do this... I already have my own method.
The sky was a little hazy at the base, but the weather report said it would be clearer near the summit. I agreed with my pal, Carol Joy, and her partner, Earl, that it was going to have to be a pretty quick trip - no hanging around for too long once we got up there.

We packed a few essentials, especially plenty of water, and off we went.

As we approached the snow level, it was clear that lots of other folks were going to try for the top as well. You know it's crowded when you have to wait in line to get to the next level.

From a distance we could see there was still a lot of snow at
the top of Mt. Shuksan, east of Mt. Baker. 
Carol was the team leader; she'd gotten part way up once before and she wasn't sure if the route past the last huts (and where the ski lift for Black Diamond skiers starts) would be passable.

Although Earl has limited sight, he was a great motivator for us to keep going, and he seemed to know the route almost by heart.

You can see the mound of dirty snow that I was standing on
just to the lower right. This is the absolute peak of Mt. Baker
beyond that lovely evergreen tree. We just didn't have the
time, energy or resources to achieve that summit.
By the time we reached our destination, getting past the barriers that denied Carol's access in previous years, it was exactly noon.

Here I was, standing incredibly close to the very top of Mt. Baker, (it is 10,701 feet) and the sun broke through the clouds so I could actually see it clearly. It is possible for me to see this mountain from over in Sequim, so after today I would never look at it again in the same way.

I turned around and looked over my shoulder and this is what
I saw... all those other folks who were also vying for the top.
And now, we had to head back down, because sadly my weekend was over, and I had to catch the ferry back to Port Townsend.

The winding road down to the ski huts, with a view of the
Canadian mountains, also bereft of snow in May.
But what an awesome day! What fun we had! Our brief time at over 5,500 feet in elevation only left me breathless because of the views. I kinda wish I was still skiing because this must be an incredible place to enjoy whooshing down the mountain slopes. Hope you enjoyed the views, too...


  1. I want to give George Leinonen credit for working the mountain peak photos to make them the best they can be... he's very good.

  2. fabulous images, and I envy you the ability to do these things, it's a long story, but I am not. Maybe someday, again. In the meantime, thanks for sharing your adventure.