The Adrenalist

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Climbers Reenact First Ascent of Mount Baker



On August 17, 1868, after two failed attempts, Scotsman, Edmund T. Coleman, finally reached the peak of Mount Baker in the gorgeous pacific northwest. It had taken three hard years and three attempts, but the writer, painter and adventurer eventually scaled the Northwest glacier (now named Coleman’s Glacier) to become the first documented person to scale Washington state’s 3rd highest peak. Mount Baker sits along the Cascade Volcanic Arc in Washington state’s North Cascades. It reaches 10,778 feet at its summit, which is probably why it took Coleman so long during his 19th century attempts. It took as many days as it did years for the group that reenacted his climb earlier this month.

In commemoration of Coleman’s resilience and achievement all those years ago, a group of students, climbers and Lummi tribesman reenacted Coleman’s voyage across land and sea. The group, led by organizer Tracey Cottingham, a Lopez Island resident, set sail on the replica ship, the Lady Washington, on August 12 out of Port Angeles. The project is sponsored by Mammut, a Swiss manufacturer of Mountain gear, as part of a worldwide attempt to scale 150 peaks.  They sailed the San Juan Islands to Sucia Island and then into Bellingham Bay, which traverses the same path of Coleman’s successful third voyage.

From there, Tracy and her Mammut group met up with the Lummi tribesman who were instrumental in Coleman’s historic climb 145 years prior. A small group from the contemporary Lummi tribe—including Cliff Cultee, Lummi tribal chairman—boarded a 36 person raft to meet the Lady Washington out at sea on August 15. During his trip 145 years ago, Coleman had to leave some tribesman on the mountain as he continued to climb, but this time no one was left behind. On August 17, Cottingham and the other 11 members of the group, reached the summit.

It took Coleman a lot longer, but true adrenalists evoke the history and resolve of Coleman’s inaugural trek and understand the importance of honoring his accomplishment. With the same help from local Lummi tribesman, climbers and guides, this group duplicated Coleman’s historic endeavor. It’s a reenactment the adrenalist way.

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