This Sunday, a group of mountain climbers, students and Lummi tribal members will embark on an expedition to re-create the first ascent of Washington’s third tallest peak. That's Mount Baker . The modern-day expedition includes historical touches along with some concessions to practicality.
A Scotsman named Edmund Coleman led the first group to summit Mt. Baker nearly 150 years ago. Outdoor wear designer Tracey Cottingham of Lopez Island, Washington wants to give the adventurer and author his due.
Illustration from 1869 Harper's Magazine article showing the planting of a flag on the summit of Mt. Baker. Image courtesy of Harper's New Monthly Magazine
"Edmund T. Coleman I believe may have been our first true outdoor lover who came here based on the sheer beauty and his love of the mountain," Cottingham says. "I think that is the story I wanted to tell all along -- as well as to collaborate with the Lummi Nation."
Lummi tribal members helped guide the historic ascent and Cottingham says the tribe will participate in the reenactment too. For further authenticity, expedition members will begin their trip by sailing to the Lummi Reservation on the replica tall ship Lady Washington.
It took the Scotsman Coleman three tries over two years to reach the 10,778 foot summit of Mt. Baker. Retracing his steps with modern conveniences will take less than a week.
Expedition leader Tracey Cottingham says her climbing group will retrace the ascent route first taken in 1868, up a glacier that now bears Coleman's name.
The trip is primarily sponsored by Swiss mountaineering gear company Mammut as part of a campaign to honor of its 150th anniversary by having 150 teams scale 150 peaks worldwide.
On the Web:
Skagit River Journal reprint of Edmund T. Coleman's account of 1866-68 summit attempts: http://www.skagitriverjournal.com/WA/Whatcom/TownsC/MtBaker/Coleman/Coleman2-1868Climb1-Intro.html#Harper
Mammut 150th Anniversary climbs:
USGS Chronology of Historical First Ascents of Cascade Volcanoes: