Sherman Peak - 10165' - Easton Glacier Class 2
Having finished the Bulgers last year, and with just 4 more PX400 peaks to climb on the WA top 100 (Sherman, Castle, Lib Cap, and Ballard), I knew my time this summer would be a little more limited due to two trips to Papua New Guinea I will me making for work, so when I saw a perfect weather weekend come up I didn't hesitate to beeline it back up to WA for a quick ascent of one of those 4 peaks. Josh Lewis (AKA Simon) was gracious enough to join me for Sherman, even though he had already climbed it before, however this time we would do it on skis. For those of you who know Simon and I, you will probably know neither of us are skiers, so skiing down the entirety of Sherman Peak all the way back to the car down the Easton Glacier was really a big leap in both our climbing careers. It was a perfect ski for us since we had so much room to work with. No trees or cliffs to worry about and the snow was so perfect.
After flying back from Boston Friday night last week, I picked up Simon in Lynnwood at 2am Saturday morning, and without getting any sleep, we drove to my house in Bellingham to pick up my skis, then went right to the Easton Glacier Trailhead (we took an hour long "nap" along the way which only helped just enough for me not to drive off the road). Snow covered the road for the last half mile to the parking lot, so we had to park alongside the road, along with about 50 other cars! It was going to be a busy day on the mountain. We had our skins and skis on ready to start moving shortly before 8am, and we were able to skin the entire way to treeline on good snow, following the main trail people use for climbing Baker via the Easton Route. We first went in a westward direction until hitting the wide open gully, at which point we continued north following plenty of tracks until hitting the glacier. Just as we passed treeline we saw a few snowmobiles zoom by...how unfair!
It was also at treeline I realized I left all my food in the car, so Simon did a quick inventory of how much food he had and he had 5 bars. So we agreed to each split one bar every 1000 feet (since we still had 5000 feet to ascend) and hopefully since we are skiing down we won't need anything on the descent. With no sleep, and now also very little food, I knew this ascent was going to hurt, especially since it was HOT and the sun was very strong.
We continued slogging up, the extra weight of the ski boots and skis really noticeable and slowing us down. at about 7500 feet in elevation, we took a long rest and passed a group of people with 9000 feet of rope they were burying for the upcoming race. They carried it all up on snow sleds and were going to fix the ropes along the entire Easton Glacier! What a ton of work I thought.
We then caught up with a group of 5 who recognized us from the Bulger Party last year. Don and Dan were headed for the summit of Baker. As I became more tired, and sweating more, I drank my last bit of water about 1000 feet below the summit of Sherman. The last bit to the small saddle between Baker and Sherman hurt. Doing 7000 feet in the blistering sun while not having skid in months on no sleep with no food and little water wasn't my best planning but I dealt with it! Views over towards Lincoln and Colfax stole the show, and was the only really photogenic view we had on the ascent since the lighting was so harsh from so much snow and sunlight. We ditched the skis at the saddle and continued up the fairly gentle ridge the final 400 feet to the summit, at times postholing through the crust. Baker was fuming a sulfur gas on the south facing cliffs just to the right of the Roman Wall, which is something I actually hadn't seen before. I assume it fumes constantly, I just haven't been on this side of Baker before. The smell was strong!
By around 1:30pm we topped out on Sherman Peak, and reduced my P400 count to just 3 peaks. Looking over to Lincoln, I remembered back to the great ascent I had last year with Steven Song, and gave Simon the nudge to climb it. After a short 15 minutes on top, the sun was really getting to us so we started down back to our skis, took the skins off and began skiing down. The snow was just perfect, and we both skid down fairly smoothly. We took photos of one another skiing to prove to everyone that we were indeed skiing, and not walking down
We even skid back down the open gully, where many rocks and a large creek complicated things, and quickly enough, we entered the trees and was able to switch into walk mode without putting the skins back on to finish the descent down the trail all the way to the car. I couldn't believe how fast we got down! What would have taken possibly 4 hours to walk down given the mashed potato nature of the snow took us only 1 hour, and we were skiing slowly to take photos! I managed to only fall once.
Once back at the car, we went straight to my house in Bellingham after a burrito stop, and went right to sleep well before sunset. I was more exhausted than I've been in months, and was in desperate need of sleep. The next morning, I drove Simon back to Lynnwood, and returned to Renton to meet my family for Mothers day for a few hours at dinner, before getting on another plane back to Denver, then to Tucson. It was a time crunched but worthy trip to take advantage of some great weather!