Mount Baker – Squak Glacier Attempt

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  • Distance: ~15 miles
  • Elevation change: 7,000′ up
  • Weather: Warm, clear day at the start. Base of the Roman wall was windy/gusty, temps near freezing
  • What did I eat: Skratch (strawberry), Skratch Bars, and Jimmy Johns
  • Suffer Factor (out of 10): 8. This was an awesome day, but altitude sickness prevented a summit for me
  • Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2342529159

This was my first time up Baker and the views were amazing. There’s something about mountaineering that always leaves me feel small, yet astounded at the beauty a few hours away. While this trip did not end up as a summit for me, I am happy to try Baker many more times

Our adventure began Friday night, while looking for the trailhead. We had called the ranger station to ask for trail information, and while he didn’t have information about the Squak Route, he said the “road was clear to the trailhead”. So imagine my confusion when we get to 1.3 miles from the trailhead and we see many cars parked along the side of the road. A 500 foot section of road was covered in snow; Jason and I put our skis on to check out how much snow there was, and we found that after the patch of snow it cleared up considerably. The snow didn’t look too deep (maybe a foot?) so we decided to go for it. We got about 20 feet into the slushy snow…and then got stuck. Stuck really bad. Cue 2 hours of us trying to dig ourselves out. Around 10 PM Nick, Ben, and Scott pulled up behind us and managed to pull us out. Scott thought the snow wasn’t too bad either, so he tried to drive his truck through (taller, better traction, etc). Guess who else got stuck. Yep, you got it. We finally went to sleep around 12 AM, only to wake up at 3 AM to get ready for our 4 AM walk.

We encountered consistent snow on the road approximately 1/2 mile from the Park Butte Trailhead. We got our skis on and started the tour. We followed snow machine tracks until we got out of treeline; note that the sleds are not following the Scott Paul loop, but are instead punching straight up the mountain. We attempted to follow the climbing route, but found that the traditional route around 6500′ feet routed us through quite a bit of avalanche debris, so we had to route find a little bit. We soloed up to the base of the Roman Wall, where the rest of the climbing team roped u p and continued on up. I stayed behind due to AMS and fatigue. The team successfully summited around 2PM. We ripped skins at about 3 pm and were back at our cars around 6pm.

 

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Ben and Scott leading off to the summit

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is really weird for me. There are times where I can easily get above 10,000 feet with no issues (like when we went to Mt Hood a few weeks back) and there are days when I get above 8,000 feet and it hits me like a train. Anyone out there have any good recommendations to prep for getting above 9,000′?

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Ski fort at 9,700′

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