Bikes, Booze and Baker. Twice!
By Jason Addy
My first attempt at Baker by bike from town was with Jesse Jackson. It was our first trip together and it's the starting point for our relationship. We have been failing to climb together on bushy convoluted approaches ever since. It was the summer of 1999 and we both worked at UBC in two portables side by side at two different jobs. Most of the summer I would head over to his office to hatch trips that would make us late for work. We biked to Baker and climbed to the top of the Roman Wall in a blizzard. We didn't know it but we had climbed the hardest part but were forced to turn back. When we got back to the tent after 16hrs on the mountain Jesse proposed we go to sleep right away and head back up at 2:00am. I was giddy for a few minutes as the rain hammered the tent and we ate a brick of cheese. Then it occurred to me that the weather wasn't looking good. I looked at Jesse and said that I was out. We packed up our tent, ran down to the parking lot and hitched a ride home. It was off, and we instantly sold out our high concept biking plan. It rained for two more days and I felt good about abandoning the trip.
I've never drunk so much on a trip in my life. This is another classic trip that Colin Punchard (who doesn’t mountaineer) blessed. Colin has been on only a few trips like this in his life, he is not a bike geek or an armchair mountaineer like most of my friends; let me give you his stats from our trips together.
Cathedral - by bike in a day - sunny - summited - smokes - booze
Baker - by Bike - sunny - summited - smokes - booze
Garibaldi - by bike - sunny - no summit - smokes - booze
Grainger - by bike - sunny - summited - smokes - no booze
He is a golden horseshoe and he is always invited to come with us. In the small world of SPOC (Self-propelled Outdoor Club) he is our mascot and our hope. He will drop everything and grab the worst steel rimmed steel framed bike and smoke and sweat and drink his way into shape after a full year off.
We had split into two groups. Neil, Ryan and Myself made up the vegan team. Neil and I were already vegan and I was buying food for my rope team so Ryan became vegan for the trip. Vegan means no animal products whatever in the food stocks. To make sure my team wasn't getting the short end of the calories stick I did some over compensating with some of my food choices, including vegan sandwich meats, sprouts and a full bottle of mustard. Apart from this I wanted to make sure our team out drank the others (two to one was our goal). Both teams started by meeting at the Pit Pub at UBC. Pitchers were ordered and gear was sorted. We left late on a Friday night and biked with all our gear to the George Massey Tunnel bicycle shuttle where we camped out until 7:00am the following morning.
Colin brought a 40oz. bottle of homemade scotch. He shared it with all. I made sure it was passed to our team whenever it was sitting idle for even a moment. We had also brought beer from Vancouver just in case. We woke up to a field of empty bottles (including the scotch) and the shuttle just arriving. We had no time, we had to just throw the bikes on the trailer and be off. Moments later we were on the road to Blaine, WA. Blaine is where H Street Road starts. It takes you dead East to Sumas. We had fuzzy heads and hungry stomachs by the time we had reached the first pub in Blaine. The contrast between Canada and the USA is immediately felt and enjoyed. We headed in and got some fries beer and shots of whiskey to wash it all down. Our next goal was the dairy just before Sumas. The vegans suffered a big defeat here. I won't go into it. We fueled up nonetheless and headed to cheap booze at the grocery store in Sumas.
It had been hours since we had a drink and we sat in the parking lot and thought about the possibilities of drinking in public. We realized that we had no cork screw for the many bottles of wine we just bought which got us to talking about the methods of getting corks out of and into bottles as seasoned drinkers. Team "B" was amazed at our experience. They couldn't hold back the looks on their faces. We decided to just split the one bottle and move on.
Out of Sumas we headed up the valley and into the foothills of the Northern Cascades. It was there in these woods that one of the drinker’s team had parents who summered in a gated mobile home park. Genius. Cool woods, hot tub, pool and a father who appreciated a drink or two himself. This was now considered low camp. We biked on but it was in our mind to come back especially if we ran out of booze. This low camp was well stocked.
We made it to the parking lot that night and finished off the rest of the grocery store wine and some whiskey, no sorry bourbon. We woke up to the torture of flies buzzing and biting. A quick get-away and some hours later we were just below the glacier at high camp. Alcohol was slim and we were leaving at 2:00am so a couple of smokes and a drink or two after dinner and we went to bed in the afternoon.
Summit day went off without a hitch. Jesse had to "drop the kids off at the pool" but at our altitude it meant he was actually "dropping them off at the rink." Lots of laughs as he squatted over a crevasse with his harness on and pants off. We were back in camp the next afternoon. We packed our things and headed to the bikes.
My rear rim was split along the curve a few centimeters long. I took it easy for the 11km descent and met everyone later at the Pizzeria where we had lots of Pizza (no cheese on ours) and Organic Micro Brews (Wow).
Ryan and I were pumped up and courageous with beer. He suggested we get on the bikes and push through the night home to our girlfriends. I was for it, for a minute or two. I missed Nola badly but I would be messed up afterwards, if I could make it back at all. Instead we headed to low camp. I remember hitting the hot tub and drinking quite a bit. The next thing I remember is waking up in the morning and having a group shot of us taken. We then got on our bikes and headed back for Vancouver. The drinkers had only one man out in the front of the pack. Neil. Colin and I were suffering out well behind the rest. Team "B" was looking pretty good, but there is not much glory in looking good.