We began our trip early Tuesday (9/3) morning on the Boston Basin climbers trail. By that afternoon, we had reached Boston Basin and set up camp. We had just enough time to set our tent and square our equipment away when a freak hail storm struck. We took shelter from marble-sized hailstones in our tent for about 20 minutes before it turned to rain and then died away. We ate dinner and got to bed early for an early start at Sahale Peak the next day.
In the morning, we left around 6:30 AM and hiked up and right of the normal route which goes up the moraine, left of the Quien Sabe Glacier. About 500 feet below the glacier we noticed that we could traverse below the glacier and access it at a point closer to our objective instead of getting on the glacier itself and traversing across. We chose this lower traverse so we could avoid navigating most of the crevasses with this route. We cut across the talus and low angle slab to the other side and gained the glacier from there. After a few hundred feet of travel, we did not like the steepness of the terrain and turned back for camp.
The next day we tried Sahale again but from the normal route instead. After a walk up the same moraine from yesterday and a scramble up some low angle slab and loose rock, we gained the glacier once again, this time all the way on the left side of the glacier. With snow condition on our side and crevasses in manageable condition, we topped out at about 8,200 feet. We descended safely and enjoyed the rest of the day in Boston Basin.
We had the remaining day to pack up camp and descend back down the Boston Basin climbers trail and back to the car. We had a very enjoyable trip with Patrick and were thrilled to provide an excellent experience to advance his climbing skills and techniques. We can’t wait for our next adventure!
Head guide Billy Nugent reports:
Billy here checking in from the Hogsback Camp on the North side of Mt. Baker after a safe and successful climb!
We started the morning off with an alpine start making our way up onto the Coleman glacier through some thick clouds that gave us some pretty lousy visibility. Fortunately for us, we climbed up above the thick layer of marine clouds right around the first hint of dawn.
The rest of our climb we enjoyed perfectly clear skies, light winds, and an almost empty route. It’s a rare treat on Mt. Baker to see so few other climbers. The climbing route itself was also in pretty good shape with few crevasse problems and generally good snow conditions.
The only thing worth noting was a massive icefall that came down off Colfax peak (a satellite peak of Baker) that left a massive tongue of debris across the climbing route. It’s definitely the biggest icefall I’ve seen come off Colfax. Ever. All the same it didn’t really pose much of a problem for us beside a few minutes of uneven footwork as we crossed the debris pile.
All in all it was smooth trip and we are stoked to have tagged the top! We’re gonna finish up packing our camp and hoof it back to the trailhead this afternoon. Pizza and beer is calling our name!
Our climbers had a wonderful late July Mount Baker trip! Guides Sid Pattison and JR Storms safely brought the team to the summit and down safely. Please enjoy a recap below by climber, Don Storms.
On the first day we all took our time hiking up to the hogs back area, standard bivy. We spent that afternoon enjoying views, re-hydrating and preparing to possibly climb in the morning. We had a hand wavy forecast so our strategy was to be ready to go on the morning of day two. If we didn’t have climbable weather, we would try again the morning of day three. As it turned out, we had bad weather on day two. We spent the day waiting for a suitable weather window. Sid an I got up at midnight on day three, woke up all of the climbers at 1am and started our summit push at 2 am. We were able to take advantage of a small weather window that allowed us to make it the the summit of Mount Baker in six hours. All of the climbers were able to summit. Six hours after summiting, we were back at our high camp and the weather window had closed on us. We spent the remainder of the day packing up and hiking back to the car in light rain. All of the climbers were in good spirit and happy we were able to thread the small weather window and climb safely. All thing said and done, we had a very productive safe and enjoyable trip despite the poor weather window. – Don Storms
Things couldn’t have gone better for the first 2017 Baker climb! With a very good forecast of clear sky, warm days and freezing temps overnight we were happy. We walked in our first day and set up camp and had great views of Mt. Baker from the Hogback camp. With plenty of running water nearby and dry tent sites we were happy campers. We did some training on campsite selection, how to keep a clean and tidy camp and went over some knots all while gazing up at the mountain and our intended climbing route. After dinner we went to sleep in preparation for a fun day of training higher up on the mountain. We rose in the morning to more beautiful weather and great snow conditions, soft around camp and firmer up high for good cramponing. We spent the day going over efficient walking and climbing techniques, rope handling and management, self and team arrest as well as some fun facts about glaciology, navigation and weather. Still being early in the afternoon we decided to take a walk up higher on the mountain and see our entire climbing route as well as take in the beauty of Mt. Baker along with the impressive Black Buttes. We put all of our newly acquired skills to use in roping up and climbing up steep terrain to the Black Buttes camp at around 8000ft. We made a hasty descent back to camp with plenty of time to play a couple rounds of Mountain Bocce ball with rocks and discuss the plan for our climb early the following morning. With a planned climbing time of around 2:30am we cooked an early dinner and tried our bast to sleep with the sun in the sky, never and easy task!
As planned, we woke up around 2am, had a quick breakfast and prepared for our summit bid. The morning was moonless and beautiful as we slowly began our ascent, each of us finding our rhythm in our breaths, focusing on the beams of our headlamps. Around 5am the sun began to rise allowing us to trade our headlamps for sunglasses and sunscreen and see how far we’d come. Only a few other climbing parties were climbing and it was a treat to feel a bit of solitude on the mountain. At around 7am we climbed to the top of the Pumice Ridge and traversed out onto the Roman Wall, the final steep headwall before the plateau of the summit. We hustled our way up the 1000ft headwall and it gradually eased off giving way to the lunar like summit plateau. With not a breathe of wind we strolled across the plateau to the small bump called Grant Peak that is the true summit. With all the up over with, all we had left was the down, we celebrated cautiously knowing we had to come back all the way we’d climbed up and knew the warming temps were going to make for mushy snow. After summit photos, hugs and some water and food we headed back down. The descent went as smoothly as the climb and with only 2 short food and water breaks we found ourselves happy and tired back at our tents where we relaxed and drank more water with our cheese, salami, crackers and apples. That night we slept like baby giraffes as they would say on Mt. Kilimanjaro! The next day we leisurely packed up our things and started our final stretch, back down the trail to our cars where we could truly celebrate a successful trip. As we changed out of our climbing clothes and into the clothes of flatlanders we drove home feeling tired but accomplished in a well executed climb. It was great.
Mountain bocce at our camp
Skier hiking up
Final steps up the Roman Wall
Mount Everest 2017 Guide Sidney Pattison: 35 year old
Hometown: Winthrop, WA
First started climbing in the North Cascades, first big peak was the west ridge of Forbidden Peak at the age of 16. In 1997, became intern at the Northwest Mountain School, led climbs on Glacier Peak, rock instruction at Smith Rock, other mountaineering programs on Mount Baker, etc.
Favorite mountaineering equipment:
-ATC guide, due to the auto blocking abilities for both belaying and rappelling. Can be used as a rope ascension device, for crevasse rescue, a simple device without any mechanical parts.
-Down Suit: Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Suit: A slim fitting one piece suit with deep hood, pockets in all the right places, and good length on the arms and legs, doesn’t bunch up in the middle.
Sid is very excited to be guiding Mount Lhotse with our team, the 4th highest peak in the world at 27,940’ (8516m). The Lhotse couloir will be the final ascent route to the summit of Lhotse. The couloir is the ‘corridor to the impossible’, allowing one to be in a place where without that ‘weakness’ the climb would be near impossible. As Madison Mountaineering is the only guide company regularly offering the ‘Everest & Lhotse’ combination climb, this means that climbers will reach the summit of Mount Everest and then return to high camp at the south col (Camp 4), rest about 9 hours then depart high camp to climb to the summit of Lhotse, usually reaching the summit of Lhotse the next morning just after sunrise. Sidney will be waiting for our team to return from the summit of Everest to high camp, and then he will be fresh to climb with us to the summit of Lhotse. As the support person at high camp while we are on our Mount Everest summit attempt, Sid will also be supporting us by looking after the camp with our Sherpa staff that remain in high camp preparing water, food, and making sure the tents are secure as high winds regularly torment the South Col high camp, resulting in many tents blowing away.
Sidney is scheduled to guide our unclimbed peak expedition in the Gokyo region of Nepal (near Mount Everest) this autumn, a beautiful virgin peak over 6000m! This will be an amazing experience with aesthetic ridge climbing on steep snow, ice, and rock!
In the late winter and early spring before our Mount Everest season Sidney works as a heli ski guide in the North Cascades of Washington State. During the summer Sidney works as a mountain guide on Mount Rainer and other notable peaks in Washington State such as Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Mount Olumpus, and the North Cascades, etc.
We offer several excellent climbing programs in Washington State. These peaks are located in National Parks, surrounded by old growth forest, and are heavily glaciated. Climbing these mountains involves a one-day approach through the forest, then a few days climbing on glaciers using technical climbing equipment such as the ice axe, crampons, and climbing rope. Known as the Alps of the United States, he best months to climb in Washington are July, August, and September. We offer mountaineering courses as well as summit climbs on these majestic peaks.
Eldorado Peak (8,868 ft.), located in the North Cascades, has been called the ”Queen of the Cascade River” by Fred Beckey owing to it’s position in the middle of a collection of gorgeous peaks. A true alpine experience on the summit ridge offers a worthy objective to any climber in the Pacific Northwest. We climb the stunning East Ridge route offering views of many Northwest peaks. This climb offers a great training for many of our international climbs.
We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size. Please contact us if you would like to know more about custom programs.
Day 1: Meet in Seattle in the evening, orientation and check equipment, prepare for an early morning drive to Eldorado.
Day 2: Drive to trail head and begin our approach to base camp. We arrive in the alpine meadow and make camp.
Day 3: Today we review technical climbing skills such as ice axe arrest, cramponing, and rope travel. We go to bed early in preparation for an early start.
Day 4: Summit day! We begin in the pre dawn hours and climb up the glacier and the very exposed summit ridge, then arrive at the summit. We descend to camp.
Day 5: We pack camp and hike out to the trailhead, then drive to Seattle for a celebration dinner and conclude our program.
Eldorado Peak Climb
Balance due 90 days prior to departure
July 31 – August 4
August 27 – 31
September 4 – 8
September 18 – 22
Ice Axe: A short ice axe no longer than 60 cm.
Crampons: General mountaineering crampons
Trekking Poles: Adjustable poles for the trek to base camp
Climbing harness: An alpine climbing harness
Carabineers: 4 locking and 2 non locking
Belay / Rappel device: For rappelling or belaying climbers
Helmet: Must fit over a thick hat
Light hiking boots or trekking shoes: For the trek to base camp.
Mountaineering Boots: A double plastic or insulated synthetic boot.
Socks: Minimum 3 pair thick mountaineering socks and 3 pair liner socks
Short Underwear: 1 pair of synthetic short underwear
Long Underwear: 1-2 pair lightweight long underwear pants and shirts. 1 pair of heavy expedition weight long underwear.
Soft Shell Jacket: A hooded jacket
Soft Shell pants: For trekking and climbing
Insulated Jacket: Primaloft or Down
Hard Shell Jacket: To be worn in wet conditions
Hard Shell Pants: To be worn in wet conditions, these pants should have full side zippers.
Headlamp: Bring extra batteries
Warm Hat: A warm fleece or wool hat.
Balaclava: to cover your face and neck on windy days.
Sun hat: A baseball style sun camp.
Buff: 1-2 of these to wear around your neck & face to block the wind, UV rays, dust.
Glacier Glasses: wrap around style sunglasses with dark lenses
Goggles: With dark lenses.
Soft Shell Gloves: 1 pair
Shell gloves with insulated liner: 1 pair
Expedition Backpack: A 65+ liter internal frame back pack.
Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least -0 °F. Down is preferable over synthetic.
Compression stuff sacks: for reducing volume for your sleeping bag and down jacket.
Self Inflating pad: A full length air mattress
Closed Cell foam pad: Full length is best
Headlamp: Bring a spare set of batteries
Cup: 16oz. minimum
Bowl: ½ liter minimum capacity
Spoon: Plastic (lexan)
Sunscreen: 2 tubes, SPF 40 or stronger
Lipscreen: 2 sticks, SPF 30 or stronger
Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1 liter capacity each
Water Purification System: Tablets or Steripen
Water Bottle Parkas: To keep your water from freezing
Pee Bottle: 1 liter capacity minimum
Pee Funnel: For Women
Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, etc.
Hand Sanitizer: 1 small bottle
Trash Compactor bags (4): To line stuff sacks and separate gear
Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
Travel Clothes: For days in Seattle.
Small duffel bag: to store items in the hotel
Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal medications, cough drops.
• Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude illness
• Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxin or Azithromycin for gastro intestinal or respiratory illness
• Ibuprofen for muscle soreness
• Pepto Bismol for loose stool
• Excedrin for headaches
• anti nausea medications.
• Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix: Bring a supply for 4 days such as Nuun.
• Energy Gel: Single serving gel packs such as GU, Clifshot, Powergel, etc.)
• Energy Bars: Power bar, Cliff bar, etc.
• Candy Bars: Snickers, Mars, Twix, Milky Way, etc.
• Hard Candy: 1 cup
• Crackers: 1 box
Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. Because we have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun!
Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.
Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are not only experts in our field, but we also love what we do!