Trip: Mount Baker - North Ridge
Last weekend, two friends of mine, Abby and Stephen, plus my husband Jeff and I climbed the North Ridge of Baker.
The original plan had been to set up camp, hike to the base of the ridge to create a boot path across the Coleman, return to camp and then climb Sunday night. However, the forecast had deteriorated and with the possibility of weather rolling in we decided to give it a try right after we set up camp. Camp was at 5800' and we left around 12pm.
We traversed the Coleman at about 6500'. We encountered a ton of new and unconsolidated snow so we were postholing the whole way. There was a thin layer on top just enough so the snow did not avalanche off but not strong enough to carry a person. The fluffy snow also had superficially filled many crevasses so we were punching through a fair bit, up to our hips at times. Conditions did not improve much as we got higher so the going was exceedingly slow. We opted for the lower ridge start option and by 3pm we were on the ridge. Here we broke up into two rope teams and simul-climbed to the base of the ice cap at around 7pm. We started just right of the toe and at about 10' up traversed left around the arete. The pitch was solid WI2 with several short sections of WI3. No alpine ice. From the top of the ice pitch we simul-climbed to the top. Encountered one more short section of ice near the top. Reached the summit at around 1am in very windy conditions.
The descent back to camp was slow and uneventful. Postholed the whole way, punched through several more times below 8000'. Reached camp at 7am, slept a few hours and hiked out in the early afternoon.
Gear per rope team: 4 pickets, 8 ice screws (could have used more), 1 ice tool and 1 BD Venom. I do not recommend the Venom in the current conditions, a second ice tool would have been more than appropriate. Also used my Petzl Sarken crampons instead of my normal steal crampons which have much shorter front points.