MM Collection
Dispatches from afar - the Alaska Range. Josh Terrell photo
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
Writing dispatches in camp on Kilimanjaro. Mark Gunlogson photo
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August 3, 2017

Ken's High Five - Part One, Cascade Express

One peak, two peak, three peak, four… and five. Ken is going for it! When you're climbing three Cascade peaks in seven days, sometimes you look at your most recent summit and say “Huh, was I really on top of that two days ago…?”

 

Ken, Arindam, Shirish, Raman, Gokul, and guides Lani, Matt, and Niels started their trip stuck in traffic. On the drive south from Seattle to Mount Adams, they were delayed two precious hours - causing them to not even get to the trailhead until 4:30 PM. When problems like this arise, it's always good to remember the saying “maintain a rigid state of flexibility.” The team quickly did some last minute packing, lathered themselves in sunscreen, and headed up the trail hoping to make it to Sunrise Camp before the wee hours of the morning. At 8 PM Lani, Matt, and Niels made the call to make camp and settle in for the night, opting for a long summit day rather than a gigantic approach day. 

 

The team approaches Mount Adams. 

The next day was glorious. Climbing under a full moon, we started up Mount Adams mentally preparing ourselves for a longer than usual summit day. Ken and Lani reached the summit in the early afternoon, what a success! They arrived back in camp around 5:30 PM, ready for a hot brew and a big dinner. And then they were on to the next one!

 

Climbing Adams under a full moon.

Early morning on Mount Adams.

Arindam, Shirish, Raman, and Gokul were only staying for part of the Cascade Express, so the next day the team dropped them off at the Portland Airport before turning the Madness Mobile back north and heading for Mount Baker. With a little luck, the worst of the traffic was avoided the on the way north. 

After a much needed late start, Ken, Lani, and Niels made it to Mount Baker high camp in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day lounging in the sunshine and drinking tea. And the next thing they knew, the gang was standing on the summit. Ken is one fast 60 year old! We made it to the summit in four and a half hours, Lani and Niels’ fastest Baker climb they had ever worked! And then boom! They were back at camp and headed out to Baker Lake to camp for the night before heading into Mount Shuksan. 

 

 

Ken and Lani admiring big crevasses on Baker.

Success on Baker!

Ken and Niels charged up the Shuksan approach trail and again spent the afternoon at camp enjoying beautiful views and drinking hot brews. And who would have thought it, the next morning those two were standing on top of Mount Shuksan, gazing at Baker’s summit thinking that not that long ago they were way over there on top of that one. 

Ken scoping the route on Mount Shuksan. 

Ken climbing the SE Ridge on Shuksan.

Ken did an impressive amount of training to prepare for the Cascade Express. He is a retired meteorologist who used to do a lot of climbing, but eventually his family and work took priority and climbing got put on the back burner. After retiring, he decided to go big and do five peaks in seven days in the Cascades to prove to himself that he could still climb. Four times a week, Ken would don his backpack filled with 50 pounds of sand and hike 1500 feet up his local hill in upstate New York. His training has paid off immensely! Word around the Mountain Madness office is that Ken “crushed” his last climb on Eldorado. 

Now Ken is resting up and getting ready for his last climb on Glacier Peak. Good luck Ken! You got it this one too!

 ~ Words and images, MM Guide Niels Meyer