Program Updates

Final Climb of 2019: Mount Baker

By in Program Updates

Roping up on the mountain and in life

On Thursday, July 18th, through Saturday, July 20th, Recovery Beyond’s mountaineering program, with combined leaders and participants from Tacoma Rescue Mission and Seattle Union Gospel Mission, went on their second and last multi-day mountaineering trip of the year to Mount Baker. The trip was split into three days. On day one, the team reviewed travel and approach. On day two, the team camped and reviewed skills training. And, on day three, the team attempted a summit, descent, and traveled home. For any of our participants to qualify for this climb, they had to meet a certain number of other physical requirements, including hikes and a previous climb.

Day 1: Review of Travel and Approach

Weather: 50’s, overcast and cool, with light rain for the first couple of hours of the ascent

Mt. Baker Briefing (left to right, top row: Shadow, Sarah, Alison, Becky, Kyle, Nate, bottom row: Scott, Jason, Jeremiah)

On the morning of the 18th at 7:00 AM, the team set out from Riverton Place Union Gospel Mission in Burien, Washington for the Mount Baker-Easton Glacier climb beginning at Park Butte trailhead. After a quick coffee stop, the team arrived at the trailhead at 11 am and began getting their gear prepared while also enjoying additional snacks and water. At 12 pm, the team set out on the trail with a plan to arrive at camp around 4:00 pm, hiking for an hour or so, taking a ten-minute break, and then continuing with this pattern until camp was reached. Once the team reached camp, they set up tents and a kitchen/eating area. Around 6:30 pm, dinner and reflections of the day were both shared as a group. The team reviewed travel and approach. At 9:00 pm, the team went to bed, ready to rest for the night.

Recovery Beyond Basecamp tent, team leader tent, 9600’

Day 2: Camping and Skills Review

Weather: 50’s, low-visibility with clouds, eventually breaking open to some sun and sights of the mountain

The team arose at 7:00 am, had breakfast, and by 9:30 am prepared to review snow school skills for Cascade glacier travel. The leaders led the skills training, covering the review of an ice axe, cramponing, and the self-arrest maneuver. After practicing rope travel, walking on a rope, stepping over the rope, rope intervals, and communicating as a team, everyone set off to eat lunch and rest. Around 3:30 pm, the team ate an early dinner, and had a team meeting at 4:30 pm. Everyone prepared their packs, crampons, ice axe, helmet, clothing, food, and water for the climb the next morning.
One of our team members, Sarah, found the ascent to be more challenging than expected. The team came up with a new plan for her, which was an important call and one that had been discussed during the weeks leading up to the climb. There was a beautiful hike to a fire look-out nearby on a well-marked trail, and the next morning Sarah planned to hike to the fire look-out with Becky, one of the team leaders.

The entire group went to be around 6 pm, with a wake-up call of 1 am for those climbing to the summit. Sarah and Becky had a wake-up time of 7 am.

Day 3: Summit, Descent, and Travel Home

Weather: 50’s and clear with gorgeous, endless views

The team woke up at 1 am, ate hot oatmeal, and were roped-up and ready to begin the climb by 2:15 am. They hiked for about an hour and twenty minutes before taking a break at 3:30 am and continued this hiking-and-taking-a break pattern until 5 am. At this time, they were 1,000’ from the summit. The group was traveling well and showing strength and endurance. At 6:30 am, the team arrived at the summit! They took some photos, high-fived one another, and enjoyed the gorgeous views.

Team 1 approaching the mountains craters edge, fumaroles venting gaseous steam, an awesome sight!

On the Summit! (left to right: Jeremiah, Scott, Shadow, Nate, Kyle, Jason, Alison, McKenzie)

The began their descent an hour later and arrived back to camp around 10:00 am. At 8:30 am, Becky and Sarah had headed off on their own side-adventure to the fire look-out to enjoy the mountain and the beautiful views from a different perspective. The original plan was for both parties to meet up on the trail, and through thorough communication, ended up deciding to just reconvene at the trailhead.

(Sarah Effert’s high point, Park Butte Fire Lookout! Great work!)

Once back at camp, the climbers took a short rest, and then began to pack up the camp. At 11:30 am, the team set off back downhill. By 3:00 pm, they had arrived back to the trailhead, meeting up with Becky and Sarah.
As per usual, the next stop was a well-earned dinner followed by travel back home!

Reflection

The climb was a success. The whole team had the pleasure of enjoying gorgeous views that morning while reflecting on their journey in life to get to that point. Recovery Beyond believes that team-building and relationship-building are important factors for maintaining lasting sobriety. This trip wouldn’t have been successful without a team in place who knew how to trust and communicate with each other. The concept of roping-up together applies not only to mountaineering, but to life off the mountain as well. Being able to build healthy relationships and to feel support from one another is how we ultimately find our new high points in life. Our team supports our program participants by listening to them, advocating for them, mentoring them, and by simply being a good friend to them. Our success rate for our participants is high. These healthy relationships, evident in the success of this trip, help create healthy lifestyles for lasting recovery, which is the mission of Recovery Beyond.

Happy Faces after a successful ascent (left to right: Shadow, Scott, Jeremiah, Nate)

If you’d like to make a gift today to further our mission and allow others the opportunity to participate in this program, please consider making a donation today. Our team thanks you so much!

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