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Entries from North Cascades

Mt. Baker: Frank & Team Check in from Hogsback Camp

Hey there. It’s Eric Frank calling from the Northside of Mount Baker. This is our first day of a North Ridge of Baker trip. We’re up here at the Hogsback Camp at about 6,000 feet.  Things are melting out here and the snow is rapidly disappearing. We’re actually able to camp on some beautiful meadows covered in wildflowers. We just got done doing a little training- practiced placing ice screws, practiced pitching out terrain. Tomorrow morning, early in the morning we are going to be up to climb the North Ridge of Baker.  Everything’s looking good, weather forecast is nice, the team is strong, and we anticipate giving you an excited call from the top sometime mid morning. Thanks for following along. Bye.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

RMI Guide Eric Frank calls in from Hogsback Camp on Mt. Baker.

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Fordidden Peak: Frank & Team Summit Via the West Ridge

Hello, this is Eric Frank calling from Boston Basin in the North Cascades. Just wanted to let everyone know that the West Ridge of Forbidden team was back down in camp safe and sound. We had a full day of adventure today. We climbed the West Ridge to the summit. Everyone on the team made it, which was great. (transmission lost)

RMI Guide Eric Frank

RMI Guide Eric Frank calls in from Boston Basin post Forbidden Peak summit.

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Forbidden Peak: Frank & Team Summit Sahale Mountain

This is Avery and Eric Frank’s North Cascades team calling from the summit of Sahale today. We’ve had an absolutely beautiful day, couldn’t ask for better weather. Managed to summit early in the day and get some training in in preparation for a Forbidden summit tomorrow. Going to get some rest tonight. And get ready for the Forbidden summit in the morning. Thanks for following along.

RMI Guides Avery Parrinello and Eric Frank

RMI Guide Avery Parrinello calls in from the summit of Sahale Mountain in the North Cascades.

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Forbidden Peak: Frank & Team Reach Camp in Boston Basin

Hey, this is Eric and Avery calling from the lower bivy and Boston Basin Camp here in the North Cascades. We started a West Ridge of Forbidden climbing program today. Things are going really well. The team did a great job climbing up to the lower bivy. It’s beautiful up here. Just the right amount of snow and flowers that are about to bloom. We’re hoping to climb Sharkfin Tower tomorrow and then our main objective, Forbidden Peak, the following day. Thanks for following along. I’ll give you a call tomorrow let you know how things are going.

RMI Guides Eric Frank and Avery Parrinello

RMI Guide Eric Frank and the Forbidden Peak - West Ridge team check in from Boston Basin in the North Cascades.

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Just watched some of the videos of climbing Sharkfin on the way to the summit of Forbidden Peak…. GULP!

Looks like a wonderful climb with spectacular views! Good luck for the summit son and to all the climbers!

Posted by: Duncan Mckinnon on 7/16/2017 at 2:19 pm

North Cascades: Eric Frank Wraps Up Their Week in the North Cascades

We dropped down from our high camp on Mt. Shuksan last night to avoid the wildfire smoke, and made our final walk out easier. An open bivy with breathtaking views of the mountain and Lake Anne were our reward. We enjoyed them in the fading light while eating dinner. A first-light start got us back to the car early enough to hit a local coffee shop for lattes on the way down valley.
This last week of climbing has been phenomenal. The perfect weather and excellent conditions in the mountains came together for an unforgettable experience. Here are some photos of our best moments…

RMI Guide Eric Frank

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North Cascades: Eric Frank & Team Summit Mt. Shuksan

Good morning. This is Eric and John calling from the summit of Mount Shuksan. It’s about 10:45 here. We had a great climb on the Upper Curtis this morning to the Southeast Rib of Mount Shuksan. Right now we are just looking out over a whole sky of smoke unfortunately. We’re taking in the scents of the bonfire that’s currently in southern British Columbia, which has blown in a bunch of smoke in, which looks a lot like clouds. So right now we just see the tops of the peaks around us but down below there’s really heavy coverage from the smoke that has blown in.  We’re going to descend down through the smoke, potentially move a little lower to try to avoid it and get down where some trees can filter it out for us. Tomorrow continue our descent all the way out to the car and the end of our climb. Thanks for following along. We’ll see everyone soon.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

RMI Guide Eric Frank calls in from the Mt. Shuksan summit.

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North Cascades: Eric Frank Checks in from Mt. Shuksan’s Northside

Hey there. It’s Eric Frank calling from the North Cascades on our climb. We were able to get up Forbidden Peak two days ago. We walked out of Boston Basin and had a nice rest day in the sun yesterday in Bellingham. Today we are checking in from the north side of Mount Shuksan. We climbed up the Fisher Chimneys Route today, and then depending on what we find in the morning, we may end up climbing the north ridge of Mount Shuksan. Our good weather has gone away for the moment, and we’re sitting in a cloud currently. All-in-all things are going really well though. We’ll keep you updated tomorrow. Take care.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

RMI Guide Eric Frank calls in from the North Cascades.

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North Cascades: Eric Frank Checks in from The West Ridge of Forbidden Peak

Hello, this is Eric Frank calling from the North Cascades. We are at the notch of the West Ridge of Forbidden tonight. We’ve had a long, but very well traveled day. We were almost 13 hours on the route to climb the Torment Forbidden Traverse. Everything went really well, so we’re just nestling into bed up on our high bivy. We looking out over Iceberg and Tuck Lakes, and a pretty stunning sunset behind the El Dorado Peak. Hope everyone’s doing well. Talk to you in the next couple days!

Eric Frank Checking in from the North Cascades

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North Cascades: Eric Frank Checks In from the Start of the Torment-Forbidden Traverse

Hello, this is RMI Guide Eric Frank calling from the Torment Basin here in the North Cascades. We are on day one of a seven-day custom climbing trip and we have the most beautiful view you can imagine right now. We climbed up out of the wooded valley up into the alpine and tonight we are going to sleep out on the glacier below the beginning of the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. It is beautiful blue skies probably the most stable weather of the summer thus far. So we’re actually up here without a tent, just laying out looking at all of the expanses of the North Cascades in front of us. Tomorrow we’re hoping to climb the majority of Torment-Forbidden Traverse, and then probably finish up with Forbidden on Saturday. I look forward to updating you a long the way. Take care.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

RMI Guide Eric Frank calls in from the North Cascades.

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Mt. Baker: Rossiter Recaps Climb and Ski Trips

“I don’t think that people are so much looking for the meaning of life as they are looking for the experience of being alive”—Joseph Campbell

Climbing mountains is ultimately an absurd act, to stand on top of a pile of rocks and call it a success, laughable. In yet, it is something anyone who has ever shared the feeling knows the feeling: powerful, liberated, inspired. Wind-whipped, bodily spent, surrounded by ravaging beauty—beyond providing meaning for living, it provides the feeling of being fully alive. That feeling is only magnified when combined with the pure spirit of speed and fluidity found on a ski descent.

Early May is an excellent time for a climb and ski on Mt. Baker and I’m just back from two trips up in the northern reaches of the Cascades. Thick snows blanket the land—especially after this winter—providing a smooth carpet for cruising up to the high flanks of the mountains. That’s not to say the approach is easy—for starters, as is usual, the road was blocked by snow several miles short of the actual Heliotrope Trailhead. Secondly, navigating through the dense Pacific Northwest forests requires lots of muscles that no amount of resort skiing or even gym training can fully develop. Plus, there’s the prospect of needing to carry those skis on the pack. Forty pound packs quickly become fifty-five on the back. While our first trip allowed us to get to camp on skis, spring comes quickly in the Cascades and by the second trip we were shouldering the skis until treeline.

Whether approached by ski or with those skis on your back, the arrival above treeline on Baker comes abruptly and spectacularly. Unlike many an alpine ascent, where the trees gradually shrink in size to Charlie Brown Christmas trees, on Baker’s Heliotrope Trail approach it goes from massive towers to wide open alpine in the time it takes to apply sunscreen. Clouds came and went throughout our trips, but when they cleared, the stunning serac falls at the terminus of the Coleman Glacier, the stately girth of Mt. Baker’s volcanic cone, and the sheer ice face of Colfax Peak made it clear why we’d worked so hard to get there.

On both trips we were fortunate to have time and energy to enjoy some beautiful turns above camp on Hogsback Ridge. Skinning up, we looked at ways to improve our kick turns, balance,  and tracking techniques and to practice roped travel while skiing. Viewing camp from a thousand feet above, we ripped skins, carved turns in sweet-edging snow and cruised back to camp to prep for the summit push.

The morning hour always come early, but it’s a little easier with the benefit of the full moon we experienced. Rising up to boil water for coffee, our shadows mixed among the long shadows cast by the small trees around camp. Shaking out the soreness of the approach, we slurped down some oatmeal and caffeine before clicking in and gliding up. On our first climb we utilized ski crampons to leave camp with skis on, digging the teeth of the crampons in with each step to allow us a smooth ascent. On the second climb we relied instead on boot crampons to power us up past the steeper parts of Hogsback Ridge to where things leveled off enough to skin without crampons.  While both can work, ski crampons definitely allow more time to enjoy the fluid uphill motion that skinning provides, and ski crampons are definitely advisable for a Mt. Baker Climb-Ski.

A mix of shaky weather, altitude, and the challenge of converting climbing fitness to skinning finesse stopped us short of the summit on the first trip, but the beauty of ski mountaineering is that even without a summit, every step upward is a success, as it increases the joy of going down. High up on the Pumice Ridge, views of the Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Coastal Range slipped in and out of the clouds as we ripped skins and prepared for the descent. With the light sometimes flat and spring crevasses beginning to show, we pitched things out more conservatively on the descent, allowing time to enjoy all the hard-earned 4000’ of vertical. And with each turn of descent the skiing became increasingly edgeable and enjoyable, a fresh layer atop the thick winter’s snowpack. Rolling back into camp with smiles, fist bumps, and a feeling of refreshment is one of the uniquely attractive aspects ski mountaineering presents to the world of alpine climbing.

The second Mt. Baker Climb-Ski was a custom trip, so it allowed us time to both climb Baker in the optimal (if shaky) weather window and then sneak in some time afterward to focus on the pure joy of climbing to ski. Bagley Lakes, just outside of the Baker Ski Area, provided the perfect venue, as you can drive past 4000’, straight into a ten-foot snowpack, and on out into enchanting alpine lakes guarded by precipitous cliff walls. South facing slopes were graced with an accumulation of wind-blown powder and perfect runs.

Climbing mountains is a process. Summits provide a goal. Skiing down them provides a purpose. Everything that we seek up high is only of value if we can convert it into a currency that enriches our lives in the valley. The 2017 Mt. Baker Climb-Ski trips brought process and purpose together and brought us all back home to the valley floor refreshed and ready to move forward fully alive. Upward, downward, forward. Alive!

—RMI Guide Kel Rossiter

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