April 24, 1999
Jason, Josh, and Ben
Author: Jason Hummel
This is Josh, Troy, and I hanging out above Ann Lake before a climb on theWest Face of Shuksan. Ann Peak is above us.
This trip began as most trips begin, an e-mail or a phone call, some debating and planning, and finally, packing. Ben showed up early the next morning in Bellingham and loaded his stuff into our car, but the Explorer (or as Ben dubbed "The Expired") wouldnít start and so we loaded everything into Benís Mazda. It was a tight fit, but we managed.
Today was a beautiful day and the weather report was bomber. Climbing on a spring morning in warm weather and firm snow is as easy as it gets. Shrugging on our packs we made our way up the ski resort with high hopes. Reaching the top of Mount Baker ski resort in less than an hour, from there we crossed over to the Shuksan Arm. We soon found a suitable camp, where we exchanged big packs for daypacks. The change is always a relief.
Taking a break on the Shuksan Arm.
Ben pretending to be buff.
Now that we had lessened our loads we began to explore the surrounding area. Continuing up the Shuksan Arm was our first choice but it ended at a steep wall of snow. From there we could clearly see excellent territory. We found the easiest way south and pointed our skis.
The steep snow face.
Skiing down. Notice the left peak between the gap.
Lake Ann is a beautiful place in the spring. We could hardly tell a lake existed there at all because of the enormous amounts of snow still left. Continuing beyond the lake we climbed up Ann Peak. The view was amazing and the landscape was more of a dreamscape. I could do nothing but smile. Not a one of us could do anything but smile. This was an awesome place!
We decided to climb the left peak you see in the above photo and then down the face on the left to the valley bottom, which canít fully be seen.
Top of the peak.
After resting on top of Ann peak for a time, we headed out. The snow was perfect and we couldnít resist any longer. Patience on top is hard to come by when you have a ski ahead of you. The ski was as wonderful as the views.
Josh and I.
Too fast, it seemed, we were down to the valley bottom. Looking back all our wired brains could think about was being on top again. Yet somehow the day had slipped through our fingers and so we had to get back to camp. To get there we had to hike up to the top of the Shuksan Arm. We were pretty beat by then, but the ski had energized us. Ben took the lead and we raced back to camp.
Camp, near sunset.
The wind was blowing when we finally topped out and so we decided to move camp to a better place. By that point we were really too tired to care and so we dragged our tent to what seemed to be a better place. We did little else to prepare an acceptable camp. We just wanted to sleep.
Josh and I at the revised camp.
We were tired and so we ate, went straight to bed and slept good. We didnít notice the clouds and we didnít put our rain fly on.
Ben at sunset, still moving his stuff.
Photographer: Josh Hummel
The next morning I didnít want to move. I just attempted to ignore the drip. My bag was wet, but I just nestled deeper into it. That worked for awhile but never does it last long enough. I surrendered and finally opened the door. I could see, at least a little ways. There goes our good snow, I thought. There were just wet flakes that melted upon contact. After the ski the day before, I was looking as forward to skiing oatmeal as I was to having it for breakfast.
Morning. The weathermen rarely get it right.
Our palate had been whetted, but it had yet to be satisfied. We had ventured across deep valleys and snowfields, ridges and mountaintops. This made us wonder what winter had in store (see Winter 00).