Low visibility, rain and reports of a foot of new snow on the summit of Mount Baker prevented a group of runners from completing a 108-mile journey from Bellingham Bay to the top of the mountain, and then back again.
The eight runners left the morning of Friday, June 27, with the goal of completing the entire route around midnight Saturday. They had made it 45 miles to the Ridley Creek Trailhead, where they waited five hours for the weather to break, Bellingham ultra-runner Daniel Probst wrote in an email on Sunday, June 29.
Then seven runners left for base camp at 6,500 feet, where they decided at 7 a.m. Saturday that conditions made it unsafe to climb.
The event marked Probst's third attempt at completing the entire route.
The first attempt on Aug. 9, 2013, in which Probst was in a group of four, was thwarted by bad weather that forced them to abandon the effort at the base of a glacier. Two weeks later, Probst went alone and got all the way to the summit, with the help of an American Alpine Institute guide, but couldn't complete the return run.
This time, he had hoped to complete the entire thing with the other seven participants. They had planned to run, hike and climb together - with no planned breaks for sleep over the course of 40 hours - from the beginning on Friday morning to the end.
Probst, the founder of running group Cascade Mountain Runners, organized this year's event with the goal of planning and launching a new Mount Baker Ultra Marathon, tentatively set for June 2015.
The attempts also were a tribute to the Mount Baker Marathon, a short-lived competition that was the forerunner of today's Ski to Sea race. Lasting from 1911 to 1913, the race was known for its danger, the devil-may-care attitude of its competitors and even some intrigue among competing towns.
Reach Kie Relyea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2234.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.