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| | |-+  June 10, 2006 -- Squak/Easton, Mt. Baker
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Author Topic: June 10, 2006 -- Squak/Easton, Mt. Baker  (Read 1783 times)

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June 10, 2006 -- Squak/Easton, Mt. Baker
« on: 06/12/06, 09:34 AM »

*LONG -- if you want a quick route summary, see the last paragraph!

The forecast for Saturday looked like a bit of a crapshoot, but Becky, AP, Q, Nate and I get fixated on our plans and the POP was only 40%, so we drove up to the Schreiber's Meadow trailhead after work on Friday, arriving around 9:30 to 10-12 other cars parked on the side of the road, stopped by a decaying snow drift about 10 minutes walk from the TH proper.

The alarm went off at 3:30 and we rolled out by 4:45, booting up the road under high overcast skies.  We hit continuous snow about 5 minutes from the car and booted along another 5 minutes to the bathrooms to, uhh, make sure they still worked.  Skis went on the feet and we headed up through the trees, trying to mimic the summer trail up onto the Metcalf moraine and save ourselves the long loop to the Railroad Grade.  Coverage through the trees is plentiful on most aspects, though more open areas facing directly south are getting pretty thin.  Still, we were on snow the entire time, though we trended too far east as we climbed.

We gained the glacier at about 6800 feet after breaking through the low cloud layer, only to find another, high cloud layer that looked like it would turn us around over the next rise.  Cold, gusting winds were keeping the snow firm and the skinning fast, but they never blew the clouds clear of Sherman Peak or the Roman Wall.  We skinned straight up the glacier (smack in between the Squak and the Easton, really), encountering nary a crevasse, nor a sign of one, until we were stopped at 9000 by a big, curving gaper.   The last 1000 feet to that point had been in steadily deepening glop, making trail-breaking more difficult.

We discussed options at that point, ultimately deciding that we didn't think we were going to get the summit today and that the only reason to continue higher would be for the skiing.   With the prospect of more deep, wet glop as we continued, we cut our losses and started surfing.  We left the glop behind at about 8000 feet and enjoyed several inches of wet corn for the next 3700 feet, working our way off the glacier to the east, then down through the eastern moraine and back to the valley floor below the toe of the Easton. 

A short carry across the stream and through the next 2-300 yards of boulder field (during which, I believe, each of us managed to find a hidden boulder-hole, with no injuries resulting) let us hook up with the eastern edge of the valley by the trees, which we skied out all the way through the meadows and back to the car, taking our skis off only to cross the bridge by the parking lot.  Beers a-plenty were waiting and we drove down to Baker Lake and camped for the night, polishing off the fermented liquids with sausage sandwiches and two-bite brownies.  Great day.

**The route is in excellent shape and the road is all but melted out to the trailhead, with well-consolidated snow almost all the way down that should last for a week or two more, depending on how careful you are with your route selection.  The glacier itself is in beautiful shape.  As I said, we didn't cross single crack on our uptrack from the head of the Metcalf to 9000.  Had we the weather to continue to the summit, we could have easily found a way around the gaper that we encountered.
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