Baker Blowout

Mountain for the masses

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In the liner notes for their new book, Mount Baker, co-authors John D’Onofrio and Todd Warger correctly refer to the eponymous, volcanic land mass hovering near the city of Bellingham as a “study in superlatives.”

“It is the third-highest peak in the state, holds the world record for snowfall in a season (95 feet!), and is the second-most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States,” they write. “The mountain also played a dominant role in the history of the region, having served as a beacon to seafarers and a lure for men in search of gold, timber, and adventure.” 

When they host a book release party Tues., Jan. 21 at Boundary Bay Brewery, D’Onofrio (a frequent writer and photographer for this paper, and the publisher of Adventures NW) and Warger (a historian and filmmaker best known for the Baker-based film The Mountain Runners) will be happy to enumerate on many more of the fascinating historical tidbits they discovered while putting the tome together.

In the introduction to the book, they point out that it likely wouldn’t be as visually stimulating if not for a “trio of brilliant photographers that spent their lives capturing the beauty of the landscapes and the diversity of man’s interaction with it.” Photographs by Darius Kinsey, Galen Biery, and Bert Huntoon populate the 126-page volume, which re-creates the history of the mountain since humans—from native peoples to gold-seekers to adventurers and movie stars—discovered its many wonders.

Although it probably wasn’t planned as a compendium to the publishing of Mount Baker, an event preceding the book release also deals with the mighty mountain’s past. On Sat., Jan. 18, area historian and author Michael Impero—best known for The Lone Jack, Dreams of Gold, and The Boys of Glacier—will head to the Everson Library to talk about “The Grand Lady of Mt. Baker.” The event will offer up a complete history of the original Mt. Baker Lodge, which opened in 1927 and burned in 1931. With the help of historical and contemporary photos, the program will also focus on early expeditions up the North Fork of the Nooksack River.

For those who are still seeking their own adventures on Mt. Baker, REI has you covered. A “Baker Backcountry Basics” clinic—also on Tues., Jan. 21—will talk about the “endless backcountry ski and snowboard lines for those with the right tools, experience and time.” Workshop leader Patrick Kennedy will also provide details about access tools, common mistakes, best practices and places to go. And, per the theme of this trio of Baker-based activities, attendees can also expect to view plenty of photos, proving that Mt. Baker remains a “study in superlatives.”

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