Entries from North Cascades
July 29, 2016
Day one on a Mt. Shuksan Fisher Chimneys trip is a big day, maybe the biggest day of the climb. Most guided parties take eight hours to reach high camp perched at the edge of the Price Glacier above the Chimneys. So when the team drove to the trail head in a heavy wet cloud we needed to make a decision about hiking in those conditions. We stood in the parking lot in our gore-tex, gathering large beads of water that collected from simply standing in the cloud. We drove back down the mountain hoping the forecast for better afternoon weather would prove true. It did not and we decided to try again in the morning.
The following day, as clouds started to pass over the area, we began the approach in a drier cloud and took every bit of the eight hours to climb the Chimneys to high camp. The plan was to set up camp, rest for a few hours and continue towards the summit unburdened by heavy packs. At 4:30 p.m. we began the journey upward, traversing the Price, climbing the steep Hell’s Highway and cresting onto the upper Sulphide Glacier. A cloud followed us up the Sulphide, hiding the summit pyramid but we were able to climb on instruments towards its base. At 7:00 p.m. the clouds parted long enough to show us the pyramid and in what condition it lay. A steep snow traverse gained the lower rock band where it usually is a low angle scramble and we spotted a few teams descending in the early evening light. So far, we had been moving for 12 hours and now we were looking at summiting around dark and descending complicated terrain under headlamp. We made the conservative call to turn around and made our high point the base of the pyramid, just 600 vertical feet shy of the very top. Disappointing sure, but the team put in an extraordinary effort to climb all day and we were satisfied with the decision to leave the summit for another day.
July 25, 2016
Posted by: Jake Beren
Mt. Baker did not fail to impress our small team this week! We set out from Glacier, WA to make an attempt on Mt. Baker’s mighty North Ridge. Our approach put us at camp at the toe of the Coleman Glacier where we reviewed relevant climbing techniques and relaxed ourselves to sleep.
We awoke under the full moon and set out at dusk to begin the climb. A few hours of casual glacier travel found us at the base of the route. The forbidding clouds to the west stood down and we began our ascent. We gained the ridge and with some steep snow climbing and we were in business! Soon it was time to get into the meat of the route, the ice pitches. Under the snice (snow+ice) there was quality ice, so it didn’t take too much excavation to find good placements for our tools. As we topped out the ice pitches the clouds returned and soon we were relying on instruments to find the top. After a bit of thought-provoking route finding we navigated the jumbled glacier that guards the cumbre (summit) and celebrated efficiently before descending the Coleman route back to camp.
It was a great day with good company - all you can ask for in the mountains! Standing on top doesn’t hurt either.
RMI Guide Jake Beren
Congratulation Jake + team..Thx again support on Rainier ‘12
..Walter / IN
Posted by: Walter Glover on 7/26/2016 at 5:13 am
June 22, 2016 - 2:33 pm PT
Here’s a soggy hello from just south of the Canadian border. Caleb and I are sitting in a coffeeshop in Bellingham pouring over radar maps and weather forecasts, while our boots dry in the parking lot.
Yesterday we were suppose to have climbed Mt. Buckner, but both the weather and route conditions shut that down. On Monday we made it to one of our potential camp locations after eight hours of climbing only to find that it was buried in snow. We had to dig for 20 minutes to make snow platforms for our tents. It started raining later in the night and by the time we woke up at 3am to launch, everything was rimed over with several inches of ice. Because the first hour of the climb requires scrambling on six-inch rock ledges and the use of bare hands, we knew it wasn’t an option.
After checking the weather every 20-30 minutes until 8am, we gave up and went back to bed. The wind continued to blow and spit light precip. Around 10am, there was a clearing and we decided to capitalize on the opportunity by making a quick trip to the summit of nearby Sahale. From the top, we had incredible views of our camp and the surrounding peaks before the clouds obscured them again.
In the early afternoon we packed up camp and started the trek downhill. As a group we decided to focus our efforts of the next objective, Mt. Shuksan, and take a full rest day in Bellingham to dry our gear and prepare.
Wish us luck and a drier next few days.
It poured rain all night. It was still pouring this morning when we woke up. It took us awhile to work up the courage to get out of our tents and pack up but we did it. We packed our gear and booked it down the trail to find somewhere a little less wet. Now we are back in town, still soaking wet, but oh so happy to know we can finally start getting dry. Despite the soggy finish to our trip, we had a great time training on Mt. Shuksan.
RMI Guide Mike Walter and team
It rained hard all night last night, and we are currently in a very humid cloud with intermittent showers. We decided not to climb today because of the weather. Instead, we did some training and hanging out in our cook tent. We’re currently taking siestas in our tents in order to warm back up from the penetrating dampness and cold. Hopefully, if it clears up this afternoon, we’ll be able to take a climb up higher on the Sulphide Glacier.
September 17, 2015
Posted by: Mike Walter
We had a good day of technical training yesterday on the Sulphide Glacier, with mostly sunny skies. We woke this morning to rain and snow, so we are still lounging in our tents before breakfast. Hopefully it dries up soon so we can continue our training today.
We got back into cell service late last night after an exciting day of climbing on Mount Shuksan yesterday. New snow in the Fisher Chimneys made it prudent to wear our crampons all the way down to the talus field below the Chimneys. Our team had a great time descending this tough terrain and came away from the trip with an excellent experience. Fun climbing in this wild September weather!
Thanks for the inspiring attitudes everyone.
September 15, 2015
The guide team monitored weather conditions throughout the night, only to find snow and poor visibility each time we looked out of our tent. With our time frame and weather forecast, our plan for the day is to pack up camp and take as much time as we need to get down the Chimneys safely. We’ll send another dispatch from town.
RMI Guide Zeb Blais & Team
September 11, 2015
Posted by: Billy Nugent
Update 7:15 pm PT
We are safely back at camp after a long descent down a very wet and snowy central gully on the summit pyramid. The team stayed strong the whole way through and rounded out a great day after putting the whole team on the summit.
Now, it’s just a walk through the woods tomorrow morning and we’ll be back in Babylon!
2:07 pm PT
Hey everyone. It’s Billy checking in from the summit of Mount Shuksan with our whole crew! Give a shout you guys,“Yeah!” I will give you guys a call when we are back down at camp , safe and sound. We are about to begin our descent.
RMI Guide Billy Nugent calls in from the Mt. Shuksan summit!
Hey, it’s Billy here checking in from the Sulphide yet again on our Expedition Skills Seminar. We ended up not going for the climb today despite the perfect weather. There’s a ton of new snow up on the upper summit pyramid. We figured we’d give that stuff a chance to sort of settle out and melt and see whatever it was going to do on the first truly hot day in quite a while. We let things just sort of mellow out up there, and we kept ourselves busy with ice climbing in and out of crevasses. We went for a little walk around the Sulphide Glacier and then capped off the day with some belaying and rappelling practice. Everyone is super excited for our summit attempt tomorrow. We’ll call and hopefully check in from the tippy top and let you know what we run into up there. Alright. All for now.
RMI Guide Billy Nugent calls in from the Shuksan Seminar.