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Alex_Mineev

[TR] Mt Baker- NR (direct?) attempt 6/28/2004

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Climb: Mt Baker-NR (direct?) attempt

 

Date of Climb: 6/28/2004

 

Trip Report:

 

NR Baker was planned to replace LR trip which proved this year to be closer to grade IV then III. The idea was to try my first grade III on something interesting yet having low obj danger...

3594NRDirect.JPG

 

 

Met with AaronB at my place at 9am Sunday morning. Started hiking towards Heliothrope ridge at 12.30. As usually I missed fork to the climbers trail, so we hiked to the edge of the Coleman glacier, then hiked few hundred feet along the glacier to the place where you can actually step on it just above the camp site. Somebody told us about an accident on NR and predicted we'd be bothered a lot by copters and rescue activity...

Glacier was in good enough state to let easy travel to the ridge.

3594Aaron.JPG

We were slowly moving deciding where to camp when saw the copter. It was making huge cirles around the mountain, hanging above us from time to time. One of this moments when they hung above I remember telling Aaron that guys in the copter probably thinking that we are the victims, so we should smile to make them think we are not their clients. Finally copter found people it was looking for and flew away.

We camped on a flat spot at 6800 within less than a mile from the ridge. Enjoyed a very nice evening with light breeze floating down the mountain and a beautiful sunset. Woke up at 1am to see full moon, falling stars and warm lights of B'ham. Breakfast, tea and preparations took standard hour and a half. I forgot my flashlight at home, so Aaron led on glacier this morning.

At 4am we reached base of the west face of NR. Took out second tool and prepared pickets. Climbed the face to the crest in one hour using running belay. Snow was perfect! 40 to 50 degree styrofoam that securely accepted pickets.

4902Mount_Baker_Coleman_Headwall_6-28-04_055-med.jpg

Had some rest staring at the blue cliffs above and trying to figure possible weaknesses and preparing ice screws... At this point I learned that the day is going to be a fasting one for me - I left all my bars in the tent blush.gif So we shared Aaron's Snickers bar and began climbing towards the ice cliff. So far so good. Styrofoam converted to water ice and rock. Air temperature dropped. I could feel cold and fresh breath of the blue monster. We decided to climb thru the two deep vertical cracks just above a rock outcrop.

3594BelowTheIceCliff.JPG

They were about 45 feet high and lower part was 60-80 degree and quite protected allowing few steps to rest and put pro. The crux was at the top part which was 10 feet of vertical to slightly overhang ice. I believed I could do it after some homework on Nisqually:

3594homework-med.JPG

The monster had different opinion. It turn out that ice inside the cracks and on the overhang surfaces was so hard and brittle that I could not securely stick my tools no matter what. It just kept popping out plates of blue glass after every hit. Light hit, hard hit - did not matter, amount of force only affected size of the plates... So I was able to only climb 20 feet up the first crack and 30 feet up second one...

4902Mount_Baker_Coleman_Headwall_6-28-04_082-med.jpg

Well, I thought, time to bail had come. I communicated my concerns to Aaron. Aaron did not want to go down too early so he convinced me to get out of my second crack onto the open face to the right and try again. I put my third screw on the face and climb over the lip. As soon as I reached overhang part I got the same problem with ice. I just could not hook. That's it. Down I climbed slowly, removing all screws... Aaron decided to try right traverse just under the cliff towards another weakness. Belayed, he made only 60 feet horizontally to the right on the steep slope. Tried climbing up, got the same problems as I and finally we decided to bail from this side of the ridge and check our options on the other side. 8.45am.

We downclimbed around the outcrop a hundred feet of mixed ice 45 degree slope and started very long and strenuous running-belay traverse to the left, toward the prominent nose. Frankly, this traverse killed my feet. When we got to the nose Aaron seemed to be fine, but I was seriously thinking about bailing the whole thing. My feet were hurting so much that each step felt like putting it on the red-hot frying pan. It was not fatigue, just pain. I thought I could no longer provide safe climbing because of this painful attention sink... So after a minute of thinking I asked Aaron if he wanted to come here next time with me... and we bailed...

Then we had some fun climbing down towards the middle of the ridge were it becomes less steep. At first we encountered wide shrund that was not visible till we came close. Another traverse fixed this problem to gently push as into another one. Just below the shrund we found a ladder of perfectly kicked steps. What a relief for my feet! Aha. Few hundred feet below these perfect deep steps ended as abruptly as they started! We guessed steps were kicked by rescue team dropped from the copter... and picked up by the copter... Fck! We wondered around to find way down. One way was up - nooo, not again. East direction was blocked by huge crevasse (we could actually see the normal NR route trail going down on the other side of the crevasse). West side was snow ice and rock 45 degree slope ending where we started the climb this morning. One problem was time and rock fall. We saw few rock funnels. The solution was to climb these spots as quickly as possible. Another problem was my feet I had to rest them every other minute. Since the slope was not very steep we did not use belay and basically managed to run down pretty safely.

The rest was trivial. Hiked to the tent, consumed all four bars I left earlier in a fraction of a minute, packed and run down to the car...

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Good TR Alex & Fun climb. I just wanted to show everyone our incredible rope management skills..

4902Mount_Baker_Coleman_Headwall_6-28-04_083-med.jpg

 

Alex also forgot to mention, my dumbass dropped one of my Ice tools while placing a screw. wazzup.gif This was in a bad spot. Fortunately it caught itself on some rocks about 100 feet below me. I downclimbed with the remaining tool safely much to Alex's discontent "he must have wanted to KILL me" since we traded tools for that pitch! the_finger.gif

 

Hope the injured climber is going to be OK!

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Sweet TR Alex. On 6/18 the N Ridge worked me over good! Managed to get up the nose to the left of your attempt though. Excellent photos!

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