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PorterM

[TR] Mt Baker - North Ridge 05/20/2018

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Trip: Mt Baker - North Ridge

Trip Date: 05/20/2018

Trip Report:

 

Quick conditions update for Mt Bakers North ridge for anyone interested. Peter, Lael, and I left Bellingham, skimo gear in hand, at 4:15 Sunday morning. We left the car (.5 mi from trail head) in running shoes at 6:00am and cruised up to heliotrope, past a big group of guided skiers. We continued in our comfy shoes (in the rain) up the snow to the last flat before the steep face leading to heliotrope ridge. Here we left the shoes and booted up to the start of the Coleman glacier. With light skis on our feet and rain only getting harder, we zipped across the Coleman, motivated to stay moving quick by crashing in the fog above as seracs fell from the Coleman headwall. After crossing by an unnervingly fresh debris field we were at the base of the north ridge and threw the skis back on the packs. It was decision time and with a few sucker holes in the clouds (and a knowledge of the forecast) we decided to continue moving upward. Our choice proved fruitful (despite post-holing in the deep slush with no boot pack) and we began to feel ourselves nearing the top of the clouds as we approached the ice step. Peter led a full 30 meters and made an ice screw belay at the top of the ice step, he then dropped the rope so I could lead it too. From the belay I pushed upward in the first firm snow of the day (more on this later) as Lael followed up the ice. We gained the ridge proper and were living large as the sun came out. We the saw what appeared to be another ice step which was confusing because Peter soloed the route the week before and saw no such thing. Upon closer inspection the 5ft high vertical face that stretched across the  North West face of the ridge was clearly an avalanche crown (probably several days old). With no where to go but up we chopped a step and bouldered up this small face onto snow we now knew was somewhat unstable so we stuck to the ridge proper from then on. Again post holing we pushed for the summit, anxious that we would be too late for firm snow to ski. We arrived at the summit around 1pm and wasted no time skinning over to the top of the roman headwall. Skins ripped. Boots locked. Dropping in! Slushy mank... The skiing sucked but it sure beat walking. We skied back into the clouds and cruised down as fast as our quads could to heliotrope ridge then back down to the trail. Skis back on the pack and running shoes on, we jogged down the trail to the car. Whole ordeal took just a bit under 10hrs.

 

IMG_0823.thumb.JPG.000a111045c6eaeb00916b16e0f95de8.JPGLael hauls up the Coleman

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Post Holing up the Ridge

fullsizeoutput_546.thumb.jpeg.c6faaca28e09b68cc4a3b5b4c7c36539.jpeg

Cruising up...

fullsizeoutput_545.thumb.jpeg.f0199daccfe663261cc975058a5e4c0d.jpegIce pitch near the top of the clouds

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Ice Pitch

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Ridge Selfie!

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Steep ridge after the ice pitch

fullsizeoutput_54b.thumb.jpeg.e3ea5d9bcbaef24277db8735c40d779b.jpeg

Spicy crown proved to be a V3 boulder move

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Clouds Breaking

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Sunshine on top!

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Back in the fog after the ski

 

Thanks for reading, hope this helps someone!

Gear Notes:
5 ice screws, glacier stuff, 2 tools each

Approach Notes:
Road is open almost to the parking lot

Edited by PorterM
typos
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Wow, that crown is scary!  So did that happen between your and your friend's ascents?

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3 hours ago, JasonG said:

Wow, that crown is scary!  So did that happen between your and your friend's ascents?

Sure did, much to our surprise. Would have thought the snow pack had become isothermic enough to only have to worry about loose wet and wet slab but apparently not. Be careful out there.

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