Mount Baker, Elevation 10,778ft
Easton/Squak, September 28, 2002
Ben, Josh, Sky
Josh negotiating crevasses midway down the Squak Glacier.
To cure my everyday workweek blues I need to climb. Now if climbing could be combined with skiing in late September then that would be something. And so it was. After some email correspondence during the week the plan was set. We would climb the Easton route on Mt. Baker. I would pick up Sky in Seattle on the way, and Ben would pick us up at the HW20 exit. Jason was out sick. We were at the trailhead just before 8am.
As we began to get ready a large van pulled into the parking lot. Behind the van was a trailer, and in the trailer, 9 packs. With that kind of group showing up I began to think we would be in for a crowded climb. The hike up the railroad grade was pleasantly different. I had gotten pretty sick of climbing the Coleman/Demming. I was even a little excited though the Easton is suppose to be one of the easiest ways up the mountain during early season.
Josh enjoying the views above treeline.
Josh making his way up the railroad grade with the Easton/Squak to his right.
The gentle flats soon became a series of switchbacks. This then lead to a long haul straight up a ridge with no switchbacks. It was a satisfying, up climb, with a beautiful view. The Easton Glacier was full on. As we made our way up Ben took two pictures, one looking down at the meadows, and one looking up at the glacier. Somewhere near the top of the ridge we ran into an old Swede asking if we had brought his coffee up. He also asked how we were going to ski over the crevasses and I told him we would just jump them. At the top of the ridge we took a half an hour break to put on our boots and crampons.
Sky and Josh switching to boots and crampons at the top of the railroad grade. South and North Twin Sisters can be seen in the background.
Indeed the climb up would not be nearly as easy as early season. This was quickly realized once we began to work our way up the glacier. Crevasses were everywhere. They created a more challenging and scenic route and would make the ski down much more interesting. Sky having already set a good pace on the first portion of the climb left Ben and I to set the pace on the second section of the climb. As we worked our way up the mountain the weather got worse, but the climbing more interesting. We walked in and out of crevasses, jumped some, and traversed along others.
Sky and Josh getting started on the Easton.
Josh nearing the crater's edge.
Eventually, Ben and I met up with the ridge just below the crater. We had the rest of the Roman Headwall to climb and the weather was looking bad. We stopped just below the steam vents in the gully between the snow and the ridge. After quickly layering on some cloths, we sat back and waited for Sky. In the meantime I ate a lunchable and sat back content. Sky soon was at our break spot as clouds began to work their way around us. I was a little disappointed about the weather, but it looked as if it would stick to the top thousand feet of the mountain.
After about a half an hour or so we were on our way. The rest of the climb went quickly. It only felt longer due to the white out and a significant wet wind. We had all reached the top in about five and a half hours. Not bad considering all of the crevasses we had to travel around and the longer approach. We were on the top no longer than it took us to revolve our climbing gear to ski gear. We were getting wet and the weather was only going to get worse.
Josh and Sky getting socked in on the Roman Headwall.
Josh and Sky on the summit.
The ski down was excellent. The crevasses only added to the excitement and the weather got better the farther down we skied. On the way up we had seen a good route to ski far skierís left. We worked our way over there and to our surprise we found very good wide-open slopes to ski. We did, on a few occasions, run into some heavily crevasse sections. With a jump here and a jump there we made our way down with ease. We still took it easy because a fall would lead you to the edge of a crevasse and that would not be good. You would be munched. We had no qualms about that so we took it easy.
Josh making his way through one of the more heavily crevassed sections.
Sky jumping a crevasse with a narrow landing.
Toward the end the skiing got nothing but better. It was good to let the skis run. At the bottom we made our way to the edge of the snow where we would interchange from boots to shoes. As we lay back and rested there came up a gully to our right none other than the 9-person group we had started up the trail with earlier that morning and they were no more than 5 miles from the trailhead. The next day's forecast called for rain so, besides their pace, we couldn't help but wonder what they were thinking.
Josh nearing the end.
Ben showing off his turns. Notice the cloud cap.
On the ridge we mapped out were we would go. We had taken a different route up. There was no trail here, but we spotted one about 500 vertical feet down. We kept a slow jog and fast stride all of the way to the truck. The change in trails on the way down seemed like it would be an added perk but ended up being a long detour back to the main drag. With only a couple of stops for some blue berries and for the many passers by who were very curious about us having skis. Their weight was nothing to the added joy of skiing in late September. At last with the truck packed we were on our way, pleased to have climbed a new route and milked another good ski out of a dry summer.
Click Here for Sky's account.