Mount Baker, or Koma Kulshan (the Lummi name), looms above Bellingham, WA and graces many a business logo and sign around town. For a few years ultrarunner Jeremy Wolf had been eyeing this objective as a possible run from his backdoor. Fellow ultrarunner, Krissy Moehl, grew up locally and needed no prodding when he suggested the idea.
The summer solstice would prove to be the day.
Precedent had been set by runner, trail builder, and race promoter, Dan Probst, back in 2013. He drew inspiration from the original Mount Baker Marathon, a race from Bellingham to Baker’s summit at 10,781 feet. Probst has completed this run four times and was the best choice for aiding the runners in timing, route finding, and morale.
Following Probst’s route, Jeremy and Krissy left their homes, ran through town and dipped their toes in Bellingham Bay before tackling the long climb.
Bellingham is not a big town to run through and they steadily move from the bay, past the farmer’s market, to an urban gravel trail and through Whatcom Falls Park.
The most direct route to summit Mt. Baker also requires going up and over the mid sized Stewart Mountain. It adds a sharp 3,300 ft of elevation to the goal of 10,781 ft Baker. The runners experienced a little excitement at the sight of a black bear.
Volunteers were essential to this run, from food prep to route scouting, moral support, and logistical help. The crew meets Jeremy and Krissy periodically before 2 am, approaching the toughest section of trail. While running on the solstice limited the time spent in the dark, it couldn’t alter the bushwhacking approach to the alpine.
Downed logs and rocky scrambles with a few small creek crossings guarded the snowline. Running on snow offered a change underfoot, and daylight began to brighten the fog… at 4am.
Krissy reacts to seeing Mt. Baker through the clearing clouds. Jeremy yawns a time or two, but he did this run on less caffeine than is contained in a cup of green tea.
On the Easton Glacier and the Eponymous Route, Zack McGill, from Baker Mountain Guides, leads the party up the mountain.
The intrepid pair gained the summit in under 20 hours, establishing a new Fastest Known Time. Traveling 64 miles from their respective backdoors, Jeremy and Krissy prepare for the descent back home.