Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mount Baker Winter Ascent: Epic Fail

Every year for our anniversary we try to plan a trip to the mountains, and try and summit something.

The first year we went to the whistler backcountry.  Our "summit" wasn't an actual summit, and our "sunrise" was behind some clouds, but it was a great trip.

2010.01.31 - Anniversary (13)
The second year, to the Callaghan valley.  This trip was not so good.

This year, we figured we would go big.  Mount Baker.  Not much bigger around here, anyways.

We started with a master plan.  And like always, it was much too big of a master plan.  My team at work was taking Friday off to go skiing at Whistler and we'd been looking at going to Mount Baker to ski tour for the weekend.  Why not do both?  Ski Friday, get up early Saturday, head to Baker, bag the peak Sunday morning in time to head home for work on Monday.

2012.02.05 Baker (6)

This sounded great, but meant that we spent the whole week packing, planning, re-packing, researching, shopping....everything but Triathlon training.  And we hit Friday completely exhausted.  We spent most of Saturday recovering, and then got up early on Sunday to head out.

[Note: this trip is usually done in the summer, to avoid extra gear and the typically bad weather on Baker throughout the winter.  This weekend had unseasonable amounts of sun and sky forecasted, so we decided to go for it]

First lesson: the access road is gravel in the summer.  In the winter, it is a groomed snowmobile trail.  This added 7-8 miles of skinning uphill on an access road to our day.

Second lesson: snowmobilers do not offer rides.

Third lesson: as the route is a summer route, the bridges over creek crossings are actually taken out over the winter.

Fourth lesson: crossing a creek in winter ski touring gear is difficult

2012.02.05 Baker (11)

Fifth lesson: not only are the bridges taken out, but all signage and trail markers are as well.

All in all, we ended up travelling 22 km, climbing almost 800 metres of elevation, and crossing 2 creeks.  We made it approximately 800 metres past the trailhead.

Maybe next year we'll book a helicopter or something.

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