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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The BEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE
The national parks are our national treasure, and these 10 campsites are the best they have to offer. Hike in, pick up your jaw, and post up in paradise.
Slide for Life
Taylor Gibler, 26, barreled towards frozen peril after stumbling on Mt. Baker in June of 2020.
Two gutsy climbers tackle South America’s highest summit.
Liz “snorkel” Thomas – Hiking Icon
Thomas has thru-hiked more than 20 long trails, including the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide and Appalachian Trails (the Triple Crown). On top of that, she set a fastest known time on the AT for an unsupported woman and has completed dozens of urban thru-hikes as well. This issue, she joins Backpacker as a contributing editor. Here’s some of Thomas’s best advice and insight fed by more than 20,000 trail miles.
The old backpacker’s adage is that the lightest gear is what you carry between your ears: your brain. Ultralight gear often requires more know-how than traditional gear. Here’s how a Triple Crowner approaches her packing strategy.
Tuna Melt Crunchwrap
Put a backcountry spin on a fast food cult favorite.
Out in the Open
In one of America’s least visited national parks, I find my authentic self.
Fire and Ice
Find alpine bliss halfway through this snowshoe beneath an active volcano on Artist Point Trail in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington.
A Moment in Time
The climb up Mauna Loa’s volcanically shifting landscape is never quite the same, no matter how many times you do it.
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