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Freshies, Romance, and Rain on Mt Baker

We’ve skied three times this month… the driest July on record… and it rained or snowed on every trip. How does that work? This trip we hit fresh snow on the last day of July, for real, atop none other than Mt Baker, Washington, USA.

Tired of the Squamish lake scene, Lotte and I were due for a couples retreat, and nothing says romance quite like a summer shred trip to Mt Baker. Horse flies, heavy packs, long hikes, freak snow storms, and an agressive ‘learn as you go’ intro to everything about ski mountaineering. I know ladies, jealous right? Oh, did I mention packing out your own poo? Need I say more, I think we have a winning combo here. All the magic ingredients for a good couples weekend.

We made the call for a 2 day trip, hoping for a casual pace, some wicked views from the alpine, and of course some sweet volcano sunset action. The first we got, the 2nd was obscured by inpenetrable forest fire haze, making the third – the sunsets – out of this world. With blue (and orange) skies as far as the eye could see, we went to bed confident that Day 2 would be a sunny walk in the park. 

Fail. Throughout a sleepless night of constantly finding new ways to hide the food from the mice, we couldn’t help but notice a lot of headlamps working their way up the mountain. "Slow-ass mountaineers" we thought to ourselves. "Afterall, they need to walk all the way back down right? Suckers." Or did they know something we didn’t?

We set out later that morning, continuing up goat path of the Coleman Glacier and up the Roman Headwall.

But just as we climbed the headwall, and all but 1 climber had worked their way back down, some ominous clouds rolled in for visit. Seemed like a good time to throw on more than a t-shirt, when baaam, it started snowing, pretty hard up top, to the point where it was accumulating and even covering our skin track and part of the bootpack. And probably raining on our gear below…

Debating if we should be stoked about freshies or getting the hell out of Dodge, we loitered up top in the storm, hoping it would subside, or at the very least leave us some good new snow. But alas, windy and snowy summits aren’t the best places to kick back and relax afterall, so we gave up the wait and headed down for the goods.

Fresh snow on slush made for a funky 3 inches of snot glued to our skis for the first few minutes, but that eventually gave way to some fun but blind spring-storm style skiing the rest of the way down. We had lollygagged on top and in the fog so long that we didn’t pass a single mountaineer!!! Ouch, who’s the sucker now. But it sure was fun, with glory corn the whole way down the Coleman, minus some big suncup sections to keep you on your toes.

Like any good ski trip ends, we picked up our wet gear stash and… cough… bagged poo, and hiked back down Heliotrope Ridge to the car. Mission accomplished; a perfect text book execution of a romantic couples retreat eh? 

No wait, we’d better seal the deal by camping 2 more nights in the same wet tent and gear, not showering, and scaring ourselves on some unfamiliar crack climbing at Index, Washington. Love is in the air. Can you feel it?

Resources

Mt Baker – Snoqualmie Forest >>

Amar Andalkar’s Handy Route Info >>

Mt Baker on Bicouac.com >>

Mt Baker Ski Resort >> (not where we were, but good times in the winter)




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