By: Miyar Adventures Guide - Simon Swalwell
Day 1: Distance travelled: 3.8 miles. Elevation Gain/Loss: +2500’
7.30am: Our trip started off with introductions and a gear check. I was to be guiding the mother and daughter team, Katharina and Elin up the Easton Glacier climbing route with an extra 2 days of mountain skills training. Chloe, a Miyar guide, was joining us to shadow the trip. We all headed to the Easton Glacier Climbing Route trailhead where the adventure would begin.
11.00am: After a final gear check and splitting up group gear, we headed up the Park Butte Trail, making a right turn to Sandy Camp. The approach went quickly, as we learned that Katharina and Elin, who is 10 years old, were both enthusiastic trail/cross country runners. With this background, they were definitely up for a speedy pace.
1.30pm: Shortly after 1pm, we arrived at camp and set up tents, then we headed to the nearest snow hill to practice some basic snow skills. Snow skills consisted of various snow walking techniques to improve our teams security and efficiency on the climb. We also had a fun session of glissading and self-arresting in the snow, which helped keep us cool with temperatures in the high 70’s.
6pm: We sat down for a much deserved dinner and shortly after settled in for bed.
Day 2: Distance travelled: 0.5 mile Elevation Gain/Loss: +/-500’
5.00am: We all agreed on an early wakeup, as we knew temperatures would be in the 80’s at camp! Shortly after breakfast, we headed out to further their mountaineering skills with rope team management, running protection, snow anchors and crevasse rescue. We headed back to camp for lunch and decided that it had been a successful session and we had maximized the cooler part of the day.
1.00pm: What to do at 6000’ on a mountain with temps in the 80’s? Go swimming in a small glacial lake of course! We were blessed with a refreshingly cool lake close to camp and before we knew it, there were 30 fellow climbers joining us for a Sandy Camp lake party!
4.30pm: We headed back to the tents for dinner and after a briefing on how to pack for the summit climb, we were off to bed.
Day 3: Distance travelled: 6.4 miles Elevation Gain/Loss: +/-4900’
12.30am: With current high temperatures and how conditions were increasingly deteriorating since the heat wave, we opted to go early and were out of camp by 1:30am. As with the approach, the team was moving at a steady pace. We encountered new large moats once on the Easton Glacier, climber’s right of the ridgeline. With some relatively easy, in the dark navigation, we were through this section and the glacier proper. I noticed a significant amount of new melting, with now exposed dry crevasses on the lower half of the glacier. The top portion was still snow covered, with soft crevasse bridges, as per usual. We took a break at the crater, then embarked upwards to the Roman Wall. After down, then up climbing out of the Roman Wall bergschrund we headed up through the last section of challenging and unique dirt climbing. I have to say this section saddened me a little, as I filmed a video of waterfalls flowing through dirt channels from the top of Mt. Baker. How long will these beautiful glaciated mountains exist?
Top section of The Roman Wall. Video by Simon Swalwell
6.30am: Well done to Katharina and Elin, we summited! And wow, 5 hours and 3 minutes is the time it took for this inspiring 10 year old girl to summit. Not only was it the fastest team I guided up the route this season, but she is Miyar Adventure’s youngest climber to summit! After taking some stunning photos and refueling on some breakfast, we headed back down. We took our time down and the team to marveled at how broken up and beautiful the glacier was. I often like hearing from clients how they can’t believe that they travelled through this terrain in the dark, and how they had no idea of what they were walking over.
12.30pm: We landed back in camp, had some lunch and despite the cloudy weather, decided it was still warm enough to go for another swim. The rest of the day we relaxed at the campsite.
6pm: After our last dinner together, we decided that the weather was turning and so we turned in too, to be ready for what the following day would present us.
Day 4: Distance travelled: 3.8 miles Elevation Gain/Loss: -2500’
5am: We woke for breakfast, and based on the rain throughout the night and the day's forecast, made a decision to pack up camp and relocate to a park in Kirkland.
9.30am: Arriving at the trailhead, we all confirmed we had made the right decision and headed to a sunny park in Kirkland, via my go to espresso hut at Sedro Woolley for brunch.
12.00pm: For the last five and half hours Katharina and Elin learnt how to perform crevasse rescue using a 3:1 mechanical advantage system. Then we all departed home at the end of what was a most memorable trip. I have to say I was very impressed with the attainment of knowledge, and stellar performance on the mountain from Katharina and Elin. With help from Chloe, and the current condition challenges, it was an absolute pleasure guiding this unique trip!