(all pictures are low res, for high res click here)
Over the weekend, Diane, Michelle and myself decided we should try climbing Mt. Baker. We picked a non technical route - the Easton Glacier. So again, we met up at 4:00 and drove to the trailhead at 3000ft which had just recieved a new coating of snow. We finally started climbing around 6:45, with our huge 50+ lbs backpacks. We weren't exactly sure of the route, so we had to improvise a lot.
By 1:00 we reached our camp at 6400 ft, immediately east of the Easton Glacier. All 3 of us spent a lot of time digging the campsite, putting up wind walls, creating a kitchen, and essentially make the camp bomb proof. We were quite proud of ourselves (and happy!) . At this vantage point, we could see most of the North Cascades as well as the damn snowmobilers who were disrupting our fun time on the mountain. In order to be prepared for the summit attempt, we had to eat dinner early and go to bed. So we each took turns melting water (here's the view from the kitchen !). We went to bed around 5, but being the insomniac that I am, I brought the latest copy of Sports Illustrated (aka 10oz. of entertainment) to help me sleep. It didn't really work, and I only really gained about 10 minutes of real sleep time as the wind was really beating up our tent, whereas Diane and Michelle were quite chipper at 12:00 am . As we started climbing in complete darkness, it became clear that the wind we heard earlier was a foreshadow of what was to come. Again, we didn't know the route so we had to navigate thru crevasse fields very slowly. The wind started to become a factor, as our visibility was extremely limited. At 8,000 ft, I was too tired to break trail and navigate, so I handed the lead off to Michelle. She showed her strength by breaking trail in knee deep snow against a very strong headwind for the next 1000 ft. At 9,000 ft we came to a decision (if you don't have Windows XP installed, you must have Quicktime installed to watch the videos). The videos are fairly large, which will take a long time to download, and the "static" you hear is really the huge gusts of wind that were knocking us off the mountain. Video1 is our final decision, and you can tell Michelle and Diane are not happy. In video2, keep an eye on the snow, as you can see it really blowing. We estimated the wind at a steady 40+ MPH, with easily 50-60 MPH gusts. At times we had to self arrest to keep ourselves from being blown off.
Once we made our decision, we took a bunch of pictures to remember the view and headed back down. We ran into a couple other groups of climbers who were trying the same route, but were disappointed to hear our news. Even though the sun was out, the summit was just getting pounded . Coming back down the mountain in dayling was very sobering, as we got a chance to see all the crevasses we blindly navigated around .
Once we got back to tent, we each took a nap then broke down the campsite. For our final bit of fun, we glissaded down from our camp back to the car.. All in all, it was a fun trip, and in the long run we made the right decision. The mountain will be there for us to conquer some other time.