We drove up Friday night, and after further discussion we chose to stay near Glacier in order to obtain a backcountry camping permit before heading out.
With permits in hand, we left the trailhead before 10 am. We made good time to Lake Anne where we took a short break and analyzed the route description and studied the path that lay ahead. The traverse above the crevasse field on Upper Curtis Glacier was clear to see, however we couldn't be sure where the Fischer Chimneys began.
The yellow spray painted arrow eluded us, but we did spot the lowest rappel station. The scramble up the chimneys was super fun. A few short dispersed sections of 4th class, but juggy holds were plentiful wherever there was exposure. From Lake Anne to the top of the chimneys took just under 3 hours.
We found a dry bivy spot big enough for 4 near the top of the White Salmon Glacier. While we settled into our bivies I was reminded of the 20% chance of rain in the forecast when dark storm clouds descended on Baker and to the north. While we ate dinner a group of 5 down-climbed the steep slopes just above or camp. We chatted with them while they transitioned from Glacier to rock gear, then went right to sleep, ready for a 2am wakeup call.
We roped up at the Upper Curtis Glacier, crossing above the only real crevasse danger of the day and then started up Hells Highway. Temperatures at camp remained above 30 degrees overnight, so kicking steps was easy.
The sun hit Mount Baker as we moved onto the Sulphide Glacier, but stayed behind the Summit Pyramid while we approached. A few rope teams ahead of us were ascending what snow remained in the SW gully. We opted for the ridge scramble which added some some time, but occasional sunshine took the edge off of the icy glacier breeze. For once I can agree with Beckey's description of class 3 scrambling. Juggy holds were plentiful despite the occasional exposure.
We took some great shots on the summit with the banner, but found no register. After a lengthy stay we made 3 raps with a bit of down-climbing between each station. 70 meters of rope would have been nice here.
We tied in again below Hells Highway to cross above the glacier cliffs on the way back to camp where we packed up slowly 4 more raps brought us to the bottom of the Chimneys. The sun baked down on us as we inched our sore feet past Lake Ann and up the 900 feet climb back to the trailhead.
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