Mount Baker (Easton Glacier)
August 11-12th , 2007

"The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
Its only life after all"

~Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine

Story By Christy Kinney/Photos by Jason Hummel

Late Friday Evening:
A girls' night out (separate trip report) leaves me convinced that I can stay up late drinking red wine and not have it impair my Mt. Baker summit attempt. Wine does that to a person, providing a false sense of one's physical and mental abilities.

Early Saturday Morning:
Josh is knocking on the door at 8am. I stagger to the door to let him in, realize I am still a bit tipsy and most likely looking haggard. As I had packed for the climb the previous day, I had little to think about in terms of preparation. Except for brushing my teeth and downing some Tylenol.
My first request before we get on the highway is to find coffee…PRONTO. Ironically, I am in a great mood. The weather is perfect, both Hummel's have joined me in my first Baker attempt, and we're cruising in the Pimp Daddy of all adventure vehicles. The Excursion. This is the latest Hummel Bat Mobile. I don't even mind the smear of mascara down my left cheek. This is going to be a fantastic climb!!

Saturday, Late Morning:
We begin the climb around 11:00am. There were a thousand other vehicles parked at the trail head, which made us all lose a bit of excitement. We have to share our adventure with other people?!?! Bah. Hum bug.
A giant biting horse fly, stalking me from the trail head to Schreiber's Meadow, is the only 'fly in the ointment', so to speak. The trail itself is very pleasant. There is no schwacking, no fallen logs to negotiate, and no swampy-ness to wade through. This is my definition of the perfect approach. Around noon-ish, we reach camp. Our plan for the day is to set up camp, lounge, eat some Ramen, lounge some more, and discuss our climb for the next day. This lasts for about an hour before we've become bored with each other. We heave on our lightened packs to get out there on the glacier and make some turns. I must mention here what we have with us, provision-wise. We leave everything else in the tent, as the plan is just to 'go check it out'. (I should be wise to this kind of talk by now. I am almost fluent in 'Hummel').
Half a CamelBak of water
One bottle of Gatorade
One bottle of water
Two granola bars
Two fruit cups
Two packages of Lego Brand fruit snacks [Lego's (in all forms), rock by the way]
Two Starbursts (not two packages of Starbursts…just two individually wrapped 1 x 1 Starbursts )
Three climbers

We have decided to go for the summit. Not much longer after we've made this grand decision, it is realized that we A) Don't have a lot of water, B) Don't have a lot of Gatorade either and C) Do not have nearly enough Starbursts
We make sure to lather on the sunscreen, though. The Hummel's have fair, tender skin and they need to be properly protected before they face the world. 
It seems we are the only party ascending. There are many groups of people descending, and their antics leave us amused and baffled. One party astonishingly asks if we were attempting to summit this late in the day. "You bet!," came our enthusiastic reply.

We begin to negotiate the largest, most dramatic crevasse field I have yet encountered. I am mesmerized by this marvelous, dangerous beauty. Josh and Jason investigate a quickly melting snow bridge. It is roughly a foot and half thick and, even to my untrained eye, appears to be highly unstable. We decide to circumnavigate around and find a safer route.
Josh is anxious to try out his latest gadget, an iPod compatible stereo. He has strapped this new toy to his pack and is very pleased with the results. Half the mountain is enduring another tune from the Indigo Girls. "Don't Give that Girl a Gun" (from their Shaming of the Sun album ; 1997) seems almost fitting right about now.



My fingers are so cold, they're actually burning. This is an oxy-moron of sensations. Jason tells me to stop skinning and fish out my gloves. We can almost see the summit ridge from here. Just up and over…We are all hungry and thirsty and the wind is beginning to pick up. Trudging along, I am gently cattle-prodded to keep moving forward. I have come way too far to turn back now, although the thought of Ramen and beef jerky back at camp is very enticing. The summit is within sight now. Despite my excitement of tagging the top, I am growing more and more alarmed at the thought of skiing this icy, rock strewn summit, especially with dwindling light.

We have reached the summit! All I can tell you is that it was windier than Hell. I stumbled up and over the summit, fearing that I may become the next Mary Poppins drifting, suddenly, over the gray skies of Western Washington sans umbrella and spoonfuls of sugar. My next concern was that I really had to pee. Because of the severe winds, I needed assistance. This was certainly not the "Summit-High-Five" that Josh was expecting.

No way am I going to ski this. The sun has set and the crevasse field below us looks like silver streaks of gun fire. The three of us strap on our headlamps and pick our way down from the summit. Jason steps into his bindings and doesn't look back as he speeds out of view. He had to recover out gear we left at the steam vents. Josh and I decide to circumnavigate to the skier's right of the crevasse field. Just below the summit, we both step into our bindings and see for ourselves just how miserable the snow conditions are. The giant sun cups swallowed the tips of my skis, sending me sprawling, head first down the mountain. The icy runnels were no better. I tried avoiding these at all costs, but clearly, it’s hard to do that kind of thing without light.

Exhausted, I lay down in one of these deathtraps and gazed at the stars. It really was an absolutely perfect night. For star-gazing and lounging by a campfire, that is. Not so much for negotiating crevasse fields on skis in the dark. But there you have it. Anything less wouldn't be a Hummel adventure. Pulling myself up, I decide to try a few more turns. Josh is yelling at me to go around. Go around? Around what? Around to where? I may speak 'Hummel', but I have yet to read their minds. That will take some more practice. I side-step my way carefully down and I can see the source of Josh's anxiety. He had almost skied into a crevasse and was making sure I didn't so the same thing.

In the meantime, Jason is on the other side of the crevasse field, waiting for us. He sees no headlamps in the distance and hears no voices. He tells us later that he took a header here and snapped his whippet in half. Ouch. When we finally meet up with him, he is agitated and upset about his whippet. And about the fact that we went a different way around the crevasse field. I forgot to mention that there was another rope team headed up toward the summit right behind us. They turned back before reaching the summit ridge and where booting down in the dark along with us. We caught up to them, chatted a bit, and hurried on our way.

Sometime Much Later
We finally reach camp! It has started to rain, and we quickly pull on our water-proof jackets. Too bad the tent situation wasn't as easy to secure from the weather. You see, Jason had planned on sleeping under a rain fly. No tent, mind you. Just the rain fly. Josh had planned on bringing a tent. No rain fly, mind you. Just the tent. It would have been brilliant coordination for Jason to have brought the rain fly that was compatible with the tent, no? Instead, he brings a rain fly for some other tent. The three of us huddled, shivering in the tent, under the rain fly, which was also inside the tent. Shivering and wet, we passed peanut M&M's to each other and tried to move away from the rain fly edges. Streams of water were running off the corners, pooling onto the tent floor. The M&M's were good though. They not only melt in your mouth, but also on most anything soaked with water.

The Next Morning
Still raining. I peel off layers of wet clothing and fight my way into layers of less-wet clothing. My hair is wet and matted and I am sure I am a poster child for a Maybelline beauty commercial shot in the mountains. Maybe she's born with it?? Good thing I have a charming personality to make up for that.
We break down camp; more accurately, it just melted during the night and we merely wrung it out. The hike out was pretty quiet, although I was glad that we summited last night. No one in their right mind was summiting today. (Who am I really kidding here? Are there any climbers in their right mind?)
The hike down was a breeze. Just a fleeting memory, really. Once we reach the car, the entire adventure seemed surreal, best summed up by the Indigo Girls, yet again:

"Every five years or so I look back on my life
And I have a good laugh.
You start at the top, go full circle round
Catch a breeze, take a spill
But ending up where i started again makes me wanna stand still"

Indigo Girls, Watershed

Very important lessons learned on this trip:

-At least three Starbursts per climber for a summit attempt, minimum
-Rain fly and tent work best when compatible
-M&Ms are messy to eat in wet conditions, but are just as yummy!

Thanks for another addition to the 'hummel boot camp' saga Christy!!!!

More reading: Coleman Deming


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