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  • Kelley Bayern

Summiting The Big Five


Mountaineering season is coming to a start here in the Pacific NW and I'm already feeling the rush of being high up on snowy peaks. A group of girlfriends and I were going to head up Mount St. Helens in mid-March before the permit cap came into effect. But the recent warm snow pack and low snow levels caused too high of an avalanche concern and we had to call the trip. Starting April 1st, the mountain requires a climbing permit to be issued if you're climbing above 5'000 to the summit. During the summer, the permits can be extremely hard to come by. The good news is that less folks try to summit in early Spring when the mountain is still covered in snow. The ranger station will divvy 500 permits a day, so it's likely our group can score one in April for a summit attempt. So within the next month, I hope to do a quick weekend hike to the top and check off this mountain for the year. My next goal: To summit the Big Five volcanoes this year. My next planned trip will be Mt. Rainier in July.


Mt. Rainier: This mountain was my first ever volcano summit back in 2013 and I was completely unprepared. Strapped to my feet were the same hiking boots that Reese Witherspoon wore in the movie Wild. Thankfully, they held up with my crampons and we made it to the summit in a complete whiteout blizzard. Route: Disappointment Cleaver

Next Summit: July, 2017

Route: Liberty Ridge


Mt. Baker: My next summit was of this beautiful mountain in the summer of 2014. It was my first summit in bluebird conditions, where you could see the cloud deck below with familiar mountain tops sprouted through in the distance. We hiked this one and made it up for the sunrise. The last 1,000 feet are killer on the legs... but it is one of my favorite climbs due to its slightly more technical approach. Route: Heliotrope Ridge

Next Summit: August, 2017

Route: Easton Glacier


Mount St. Helens: This mountains is a go-to for beginners wanting to get into mountaineering. I also recommend this hike in the winter with snow. I hear it gets really ashy in the summer time. My friend, Jason, and I decided to give this mountain a shot the day after New Years last year. With a perfect weather window, we hike in and camped in a perfect forested area, and made it to the summit by 10am. It was a bit windy, which made the climb extremely cold. But the sun was shining and I was able to see spirit lake and the giant Mount Adams next door. It was the perfect weekend adventure. Route: Worm Flows Route

Next Summit: April - May, 2017

Route: Worm Flows Route


Glacier Peak: To this day, Glacier Peak is by far the hardest mountain I've summited. The trip took five days and five nights, a night and day each waiting in the rain at our campsite for the weather to clear. Our downfall was a real lack of knowing how far the summit was from our base camp. We ended up trekking 19 hours straight on summit day and made it back to camp at 11pm. I've never been so sore, and I really tested out my tolerance for suffering. And let me tell you, it's pretty damn high. Next time, we will camp much closer to the summit. If there is a next time... Route: North Fork Sauk Trailhead

Next Summit: I would be totally fine with skipping this mountain haha.

Route: North Fork Sauk Trailhead


Mount Adams: Last but not least, we have the second tallest volcano in Washington. Mount Adams is a fairly easy and accessible climb, and you'll likely have hundreds of people climbing it with you in the summer time. This was my last summit of the Big Five which I completed in August of last summer (2016). It was a blast! A group of six friends joined me for my last epic adventure. We ate, we laughed, we climbed, we celebrated, we glissaded, we got lost, and then we celebrated again over pizza and beer at a brewery in Hood River. It was the perfect last mountain to summit in perfect weather. And now I'm beyond excited to do it all again, in one year. Wish me luck! Route: South Climb, Lunch Counter

Next Summit: August, 2017

Route: South Climb


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Follow my thoughts, ideas, and adventures as I prepare to summit the tallest peaks in the Pacific Northwest.

Hello. I'm Kelley and I'm a bear.
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