Slide for Life
Backpacker|January - February 2021
Taylor Gibler, 26, barreled towards frozen peril after stumbling on Mt. Baker in June of 2020.
 SCOTT YORKO

Mat and I hustled up to the Railroad Grade Moraine on Washington’s Mt. Baker. The forecast called for clear skies, and we’d left the trailhead at 6 p.m. gunning for a sunrise summit at 10,781 feet. Four hours later, as we traveled across the Easton Glacier, the weather turned to a mix of swirling ice and rain. Shouting over the wind, we discussed turning around. But I thought back to the forecast I’d checked just before departing and insisted the weather would clear up at any minute.

It didn’t. Our tracks were the first on the route since a recent storm, so we broke trail in deepening snow, at some points post-holing up to our waists. We slipped further behind schedule with each belabored step.

“I made it to the summit,” I yelled to Mat over my radio around noon. He was only 25 feet away on the other end of the rope but unable to see or hear me through the whiteout. He joined me at the top for 20 seconds— the temperature was well below zero—before we began the 4,000-foot descent.

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