MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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August 19, 2011

Women Making It Happen on Mount Baker!

Our Womens’ Programs here at Mountain Madness are going strong!  Taru Helne, along with guide Aili Farquhar, climbed Mt. Baker via the Easton Glacier on Monday, August 8.  

Day 1

The team left Seattle on Saturday morning (August 6) and headed for the busy trailhead at Schrieber’s Meadow on the south side of the mountain.  Perfect temperatures in the 60’s and a slightly overcast day greeted the women as they negotiated stream crossings made difficult by heavy packs and snowmelt.  After the challenge of this glacial stream they ascended the mostly snow-free switchbacks up to open meadows still covered in snow.  They walked along the knife-edge Railroad Grade to a dry site at the 6,000-foot high Sandy Camp.  After a huge dinner of spicy vegetarian sausage with couscous, they fell asleep to the sound of running water drifting up from the valley below. 

Day 2

After a restful evening and a good breakfast Taru and Aili spent a full day of skills instruction and exploring the alpine zone around Sandy Camp.  Taru worked on snow travel techniques and ice axe use before mastering self arrest in its many forms (including how to stop yourself from sliding down the mountain if you fall head first on your back!).  She also learned how to construct a t-slot anchor and tie off a climbing partner who has fallen into a crevasse.  Taru and Aili spent the evening watching marmots play and the rangers in a tent nearby laugh for a few hours while savoring some tasty Thai food and resting up for summit day.

Day 3

Two cell phone alarms rang loud and clear in the darkness of 1:30 am.  After breakfast and preparations the team left camp at 3am and cramponned up the upper Railroad Grade and onto the Easton glacier.  They maintained a steady pace, stopping to eat, drink, and prevent blisters.  Taru did a fine job ascending the sometimes switchbacked trail and steep footing of the Roman Wall with excellent cramponning and ice axe skills.  The team reached the summit before 10am – just in time to enjoy the first heat of the day and greet another Mountain Madness team led by Jaime Pollite!  After some summit shots and snacks Taru and Aili descended the Roman Wall to the crater and a delicious lunch of pepper jack and hummus bagels with spicy mustard.  A few hours of hot sunny glacier travel took them back to Sandy Camp, where they packed up and headed back down to the trailhead and the promise of a nice cold beer at the Train Wreck in Burlington!