Mt. Baker was the first mountain I attempted to climb back in 2013. Our group got turned around on our summit attempt day due to thunder, lightening and a subsequent white out. I was halfway through my two week mountaineering course and every day just felt impossibly hard.
I left my course wondering if I’d ever have the skills and friends to try Baker again.
This weekend I returned with my two friends, Brianna and Kara. We’ve done a lot of trips together through the Alpine Club of Canada.
I was expecting the mountain to challenge me like it first did. But what a difference four years makes!
Compared to our tiny but mighty Vancouver Island mountains, the Coleman Deming route felt like a hike. We joked, we sang songs. We carried our overnight gear up the high camp on Coleman glacier away from all the crowds just for fun.
We started our climb the next day around 3:00 am. We passed other another team in our first 30 minutes out of camp. We were sure we would be up and down that mountain in no time.
That plan was thrown out the window when we saw lightening and heard thunder. Two other teams near us turned around and flew down the slope.
It was hard to think clearly, as I was feeling so confident just an hour before and lightening is always pretty scary.
But to me, it seemed more danger to return to the flat, open glacier than wait it out in our spot near the saddle. So we spread out, sat on our packs and waited.
It was a sobering reminder that mountains can be dangerous and you really have only so much control over anything that happens.
Lucky for us (really … just luck) the storm passed and we continued on to the summit. What an amazing day!! And I am definitely in need of a new goal!
Tips to make your adventure a safe one
I really hesitate to call the Coleman Deming route easy on the Internet, as I have no idea if YOU dear reader would find this easy. An over-confident, unprepared team could really get into trouble on this mountain. (Heck, bad stuff could happen to anyone!)
When travelling on snow and/or glaciers, you need to have the right skills and equipment to keep yourself safe. This includes knowing how rescue yourself and your friends if you fall into a crevasse. You will also need equipment such as helmet, harness, ice axe, crampons, rope, snow pickets, prusiks, pulleys, ice screws — and know how and when to use them. This is on top of the usual 10 essentials and other backcountry safety gear. If you’re not sure if you are ready, hire a guide or take a course!