Backpacking, Hiking, North Cascades, Top Trips

On top of Old Smokey

Ever since we moved to Washington, we’ve had a thing for volcanoes (as you might have noticed) and ever since we spent a fantabulous night in a fire lookout last summer, we’ve had a thing for Mount Baker. Seriously, who wouldn’t – just look at it:


When we signed up for the mountaineering class this winter, we were excited to learn that Baker would be our “graduation” climb. Unfortunately I didn’t get that far since I am a recovering wuss, but JK and the gang have been preparing all spring. I was happy to learn that I would at least be able to join them in camp on Mount Baker for their climb.

Off we go

I was really dragging ass on the hike in to camp on Saturday since I had spent the whole week withering away on the couch, eating nothing but mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding to appease my throbbing jaws after the wisdom teeth extraction. I was also carrying ten pounds more than my regular overnight pack weight – I brought my climbing gear in case we were going to do some crevasse rescue practice. We didn’t, so it was all in vain – but lord knows I needed some extra training.

After a week of absolutely insane warmth and sun, the weather unfortunately decided to go all Pacific Northwest on us as we started hiking, effectively removing any motivating views along the way. At least we got our first marmot sighting of the year, which pleased me to no end – they are my absolute favorite animals (apart from Bobbys and Wellingtons) and I feel a strong kinship with them (they’re fat, they eat plants, and they hibernate – sounds familiar).

I love you!

We set up camp at 6,400 feet and enjoyed sporadic views of the mountain and our surroundings as the cloud cover came and went.

Tent cities from my perch

We went to bed at six in an attempt to get some snooze time; the climbers were scheduled to start moving up the mountain at 1AM.

I shall say good night 'til it be morrow

I popped out of the tent to see them off, then went back to have the best alpine sleep of my life (I used JK’s stuff to make a double Thermarest-and-sleeping bag fort) while the poor suckers roped up and slogged on up the mountain in the dark.

JK and the Alexes

I guess it’s not so bad when you get views like these along the way:

String of ants

Looking down on the Black Buttes

Here comes the sun

Finally they reached the summit of Mount Baker, 10,781 feet (3,286 m) – huzzah!

JK on top

Above the clouds

As the sun came up, I lazily rolled out of tent to watch the climbers making their way back down the mountain:

Lots and lots of little ants

On the way down they could see all the beautiful (but slightly unnerving) crevasses they had passed by in the dark on the way up.

Where did that come from?



Now, of course, I really want to go on a big climb myself – hopefully I’ll get my chance later this year or next summer. I try to tell myself that the mountains aren’t going anywhere, but then I remember our hike to the crater rim of Mount St. Helens and realize that this might not be true…

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  • Reply sharon June 11, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    wow – it could be worth the freezing cold and all of that climbing for gorgeous views and photos like that. But seeing as snow topped mountains are in short supply in my part of the world, I will have to enjoy it via your blog.

    Mind you, the marmot sounds like my kinda creature as well! ;-) Also quite liked Sid the Sloth from “Ice Age”, so there you go…

  • Reply Jodie June 12, 2009 at 12:58 am

    could you guys share your camera and lens set up? your photos are awesome. also, please don’t tell me you majored in photography as did your mother and her mother before her! i think i will totally lose hope then.

  • Reply Libby June 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Love the first photo and that mamot is SOOOO cute!!!
    1am!!! Holy moly, you climbers sure are mad, or should I say keen!!! I think you had the best idea Ingunn :-).
    I think you mentioned before the snow/ice starts to melt later in the day, is that the reason for climbing in the dark?


  • Reply Eli Kristin June 13, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Woow… gjentar meg selv her, dere tar noen alldeles fantastiske bilder fra de mest fantastiske turer “over there” :D

    Takk for supre tips om album også! :)

  • Reply MaritO June 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    åååå..sukk…neste tur vil jeg være med på. Dette så helt fantastisk ut :)

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