Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   12/08/21

      Thanks for visiting Cascadeclimbers.com.   Yep, we are still going!    Just put a new coat of paint on the site. Still the same old community of climbers, skiers, and people who love to get outdoors. Hope you had a great 2021, and wish you the best for 2022 and beyond.  Thanks again for stopping by.
Phillip Failor-Rich

[TR] Mt baker - North Ridge 08/01/2022

Recommended Posts

Trip: Mt baker - North Ridge

Trip Date: 08/01/2022

Trip Report:

This adventure started in the most likely place, Instagram. A guy named Remy, who had worked at the same climbing gym I currently work for sent me a message. My boss had heard from Remy that he was looking for partners that wanted to do a lot of climbing; My boss also knows that I am in the same boat. After some messaging back and forth we decided we would give the north ridge of baker a try! Most would say attempting a long and committing route with a new climbing partner would not be the best idea. Most of the time I would agree. The only reason I am able to make this exception was because of our mutual friend/boss. He has known both of us for a long time, with a good understanding of our experience and comfort level in the mountains.

Remy and I planned for a full casual day of hiking up the road, up the trail, and to camp. Then a full alpine start climbing day. Then a full day to sleep and walk out. If the weather and company are equally as good this is my favorite way to approach bigger climbs like this. Making the large approach and distances more manageable physically and mentally. I find this is also how I rap my head around larger technical obstacles; Breaking them down into small chunks that I can easily understand and take one at a time. The small chunk mindset works super well until you need to have any amount of forethought about your objectives but for the purpose of giving me confidence that I have the ability to do larger and harder routes, this mindset helps a lot.

Remy and I started out our approach day a little bit late putting the pressure on us to get to camp and get to sleep. Making it worse was the fact that I had forgotten my bike back home in a rush to get ready and out the door early. We put our minds together and decided that strapping the packs to the bike like a mule and both pushing that one bike would be faster than swapping out riding the single bike.IMG_1473.PNG.fc6c55bb108d77ca36a3abe585e0fdbd.PNG

This feat of engineering let us push up the hill to the trailhead in less than 2 hours. Putting us right back on schedule. We hoisted our packs and walked up the heliotrope ridge trail with excitement for our next day. After arriving at camp and getting our tent set up, I cooked my usual top ramen with a side of tuna (I am still getting better at backcountry cooking). We talked over at time plan and decided on a midnight start. 

Our alarms rang and it was time to boogie. I threw my boots on and racked up for the big day to come. We did some traversing to get up out onto the helio trope ridge and then out onto the Coleman glacier. The glacier was surprisingly simple and fast travel. Most of the cracks were completely exposed making them obvious and easy to avoid. Until higher on the mountain we did not find any unstable bridges.A6D93E5B-1D4A-4AD9-B078-09CE400A63C7.JPG.497e6b346c7a958ff45a0f40d17a74bc.JPG

We hiked in a timely manner up to the toe of the north ridge. The beta that we had gotten from a month before was that gaining the toe of the ridge was out and traversing to lookers left around the ridge was needed. That turned out to be completely false for the conditions we found but existing in our own little headlamp bubble it was hard to tell that at the time. 

Moving around the toe of the ridge and accending found us just next to looker's left of the ridge for about a thousand feet. 

IMG_4028.jpg.81b300d70bcf412eb1bcba82d2e2884e.jpg

Looking up at the ice step and the steeper snow seemingly right above us we pulled out the rope length and prepared to siml. This was not the case. A little after the above picture was taken I arrived at a nearly 50ft wide crack that the GPS track we had, seemingly cruised right over. With the north ridge not gainable to us to the right and icefall to the left we decided to descend slightly and explore our options to the left. Past some broken blocks the glacier seemed to mellow out and provide access around the crack back to the north ridge. 

IMG_4035.jpg.415c28f0b1bde71aa25b93ff93f0a754.jpg

The above photo was taken after traversing around the large crack.

IMG_1408.jpg.813a09e06f7701f1c8b4384b6c4fd48e.jpg

beautifully broken glacier.

1D2BBB25-A94E-4A05-9BD2-87B72365857F.JPG.351ad10fb8b9ed66a4e12f4ca63ac605.JPG

5E7D20B1-B77B-49A9-92F0-E24D394C12F0.JPG.89381a005c92aed2103d2ff4cc3825ff.JPG

Tomfoolery moving through the north face icefall

62ea349d4223e_Screenshot2022-08-03005628.jpg.6197640f435962ec93bc9c3b34ee7134.jpg

This portion of the climb is something I am debating still in my head. We had no beta on the icefall we were making our way through. The bridges we were crossing were super solid but would they have been later in the day if we needed to descend? what would the icefall hazard be like after the sun heated everything up? Was I in over my head? I believe that the decisions we made were safe enough for the route and situation we were committed to. Remy and I on the way out discussed every decision we made in detail and the reasons behind them. This type of do-it-as-you-go climbing was new to both me and Remy and it was really fucking awesome.

You can see in our GPS track we were finding the best crossings were farthest lookers left but we constantly were moving lookers right to see if there was a route back onto the ridge. Finally, after lots of large crack crossings and zig-zagging, we found an entrance to the north ridge around 600 ft below the ice step.

6545644F-7BD0-4B39-9402-B5CFDDE5BADE.JPG.6c75f1fccf6b918c3055bbfac0a3fb9c.JPGA look at the upper north face icefall from below the ice step.

D1F8F7BE-B7FE-4FBE-9EFE-BC7AC7B965C3.JPG.3026a872aa305304845241e3b4d085b7.JPG

Back on route finally. As we looked down the ridge in the light a clear bootpack and a RMI team moving up it made all the hard work we just put in seem meaningless. But was it? I feel like I had to engage more active decision-making, risk management, and route-finding skills much much more than I normally would have on a well-tracked route like the north ridge. I feel I grew as a climber as well as my personal ethic in the mountains. It was a freeing experience to decide to tread my own route and make it work. The ice step was in super good shape. A short section of pretty high-quality vertical ice then followed by another pitch of low-angle ice. This led to a knife edge ridge to the summit bergy which was a simple crossing with some steep snow to the top. The descent was very simple, just a trot down the Coleman Demming which was in very good shape. Back to camp at 2pm made it a 15-hour day including all the icefall buffoonery. Overall a super fun climb with a super cool person. I hope you enjoyed reading about an adventure and thanks for sticking around!

Gear Notes:
6 Screws, 3 pickets (wish we had a few more screws)

Approach Notes:
Heliotrope (bring two bikes)
  • Like 4
  • Snaffled 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice work, nice photos. What camera are you using? And yes, we are growing all the time, on the good trips anyway. I enjoyed the photos and reading of your 'freeing experience', well said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love it! You got the photos figured out!  Next time rent a tandem bike 😂😂. 
 

 there are  people on here who are way better for advising you than me, but I'll just say that I think you're on the right track.   stay humble and trust your instincts.  thank you for taking us along with you.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice report and pics. Doesn't look like buffoonery. You didn't fall into a crevasse and made it to the top and down safely. Sounds like a win to me!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

4 hours ago, olyclimber said:

Love it! You got the photos figured out!  Next time rent a tandem bike 😂😂. 
 

 there are  people on here who are way better for advising you than me, but I'll just say that I think you're on the right track.   stay humble and trust your instincts.  thank you for taking us along with you.

Yes all I needed was a Jpeg converter!

  • Rawk on! 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Otto said:

Nice work, nice photos. What camera are you using? And yes, we are growing all the time, on the good trips anyway. I enjoyed the photos and reading of your 'freeing experience', well said.

Thanks! I am just using my iPhone. It seems to do pretty well unless it gets cold. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great trip Report!  The "figure it out as you go" climbs are the most memorable and make you a better climber.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adding some nori or chopped dried shiitake really ups the tuna-ramen game 💯

Nice work!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×