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416 Crows 2011-06-11

camp at mount baker

When Ray and I first went to Mount Baker, we arrived at what we thought was the camping area, well after dark. A storm had overcome the mountain and left us approaching with little visibility and a lot of wind. Being our first time on the mountain we followed the tracks of someone else, which led us to a plateau. The area looked safe so we set camp on the exposed shelf. We really did not know where we were. We only knew our elevation (from the altimeter) was the desired height for camp. So we battened down the hatches and weathered the storm.

We awoke the next morning to strong winds still hammering our little tent. It was very cold. It was not climbing weather. We waited for a bit hoping the weather would clear; but finally started getting ready to leave. In miserable conditions we packed our camp and started down the mountain. It was already mid-morning as we came down from the plateau where our camp was. Surprisingly, the weather was not bad at all on the glacier below us. Approaching in the storm, we had followed the tracks to set up camp in a virtual wind tunnel.

It was too late in the day for us to attempt the mountain. Instead, we decided to rope up and climb to the saddle to scout the route for a future climb. Leaving our packs we delighted that we were getting to at least look at the mountain.

After a couple of hours climbing we began the descent. Far below, I could see where we dropped our packs. Large black animals were all around the packs. Were they marmots? No, they were birds. Crows or ravens were raiding our packs.

Being from the south, we were not used to attacking birds. Maybe the folks in Washington do not shoot the birds like they do in the south; but the birds were pilfering our food supplies. Waving our arms and ice axes we made the birds move from our packs. They were poised to continue their raid at the next opportune moment. After cleaning up the mess we headed down the hill.

When we returned to climb the mountain, a few years later, we followed the standard raven prevention procedures. We dug a large hole and buried our packs under about four feet of snow. One meter was recommended; but we knew the ravens really liked us, so we dug a little deeper. We did not have any troubles on that trip.

Well now the crows in Washington are attacking folks in the town of Everett. The birds are "zinging" anyone passing. One police officer tried to scare the birds away with his siren, the crows proceeded to dirty his car. They are a mean bunch!

A state biologist conjured that the birds were only trying to protect their young ones as they learned to fly. (Yahoo News - AP)

While snow camping it is suggested to bury caches under one meter of snow and mark the supply with wands. (NPS-DNP)

On land, a bear container works well to prevent the marauding ravens. The containers are heavy, a couple of pounds; but using them beats the alternative of having you trip shortened due to raven attacks.

Happy crows not raiding my food trails


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