Monday, January 11, 2016

MSH: The Coldest Summit Thus Far

Woooo! This trip officially checks off my third volcano summit in Washington. I couldn't be more excited to get through half of my goal. There are five big boys here in Washington: Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mount St. Helens, Glacier Peak, and finally Mt. Adams. I have the last two there to summit. Hopefully I'll get to that next summer.

I made a little video of my adventure. There is not much footage at the summit since we were battling negative wind chill temperatures with winds near 50+ mph. To imagine those frigid temperatures, if you took off your glove for about 10 seconds, your hands lost complete feeling and movement. I have never experience being that cold in my life.

                          Mount St. Helens from Kelley Bayern on Vimeo.

Mountain Master Jason
This hike up MSH was one of my favorites. Everything except the high winds went so according to plan. I got off work on Friday at 8am and trekked the 3.5 hours straight to the mountain to meet my friend, Jason. He and I have climbed over the years together. He's a pretty seasoned mountaineer around the Cascades. We trekked in about 2 miles, set up camp at the edge of the tree line and went to bed. The plan was to wake up at 6am and head up for a midday summit. We got up that Saturday morning, ate a huge breakfast, and checked our routes. I got to use my brand new Garmin GPS :)! Jason also taught me a little more about navigating which is something I'm pretty unskilled at. We then headed out and up with our snowshoes and crampons. I powered up there a little before Jason did and fortunately had the help of a skier to take my photo and point out views of Spirit Lake and Big R from the summit. This guy got me a little curious about ski mountaineering. That will be another post for later.

Jason caught up and we had a lovely trek down right at the golden hour and were back to our camp by 4pm. We packed up, snowshoed the 2 miles back to our car in the starry night and left for some large burgers in the town of Cougar right nearby before we both split off - him to Seattle and me to the Tri-Cities.

At the summit with Big R and Spirit Lake below.
What an amazing trip. I am so lucky to have Jason to climb with. I have learned so much about this sport and the best ways to go about things in the wilderness from this guy. For one, he brought way too much food which turned out to be a blessing because I brought way too little. From now on, I will always pack those Mountain House brand freeze dried meals and Starbucks Via instant coffee packets. Those things will not only give you calories and energy, but keep you warm and mentally strong when the weather is trying to wither you down. And secondly, not only have I climbed numerous NW peaks with this guy but we both competed on the UW Boxing team together for years. We jokingly started talking about what our climbing guide business name would be if we ever started one together. He came up with Third Round Climbing. The third round is always the toughest in the ring and you usually takes multiple tries to make it to the summit of a mountain. Badass.

If you're interested in climbing MSH, make sure to check the WTA and mountain websites. You will need certain permits for different times of the year. It's not necessary to camp, but a single day trip puts a lot of pressure on timing.

My next adventure will be to try Mr. Adams again this summer.  It will be a tough but rewarding climb.  ⤲

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