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Lambone

Serac cragging on Baker?

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Just wondering if anyone has been up there lately? Are conditions still good for this sort of thing? Is the approach snowy, or would new snow be an issue?

I've never been up there so any info would be usefull. Like where do park, and what trail takes you to the Coleman? Any "secret" beta on finding the best spots? Thanks yall!----------Matt

[ 11-02-2001: Message edited by: lambone ]

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Hi Matt,

The serac climbing at Baker is without a doubt the best off-season ice climbing I've ever discovered. There's significant areas of stable ice, with problems from 4 to 40 meters high (the latter takes a bit of nosing around to find). The area can be thought of as a bunch of frozen EP walls with angles up to about 120 degrees. We've been applying indoor grades to them because they somehow seem more applicable than water ice grades. The bigger hard stuff is weighing in at 11d or 12a.

Unfortunately the area got about a meter of snow prior to last weekend, which may have put an end to almost all of the quality climbing. The snow line on the glacier creek road forced one to walk the final K or so to the trailhead at the obvious parking lot. The normal approach follows the tourist trail to the glacier (don't follow the fork marked climber's route after 45 minutes - stay right). Approach time is 55-1 hour in summer. If you're going to try it now take skis and a shovel (for finding anchors).

The climbing season begins begins poorly in June with very soft/flaky ice. As the season progresses ice begins to improve and starts to become worthwhile in shaded areas in mid-late August. Mid September to late October is usually superb. Cool weather and snow combine to turn the ice very brittle and navigation/climbing problematic in November. The keys to Baker's suitability are threefold: it's below the firn line so a rope isn't required to navigate, there are areas of very stable ice (not all of the ice there is anything close to stable however) and the ice seems denser than many other areas. I think it may have to do with the overall length of the glacier, hence age of the ice.

Be careful if you're going there now. There's numerous hidden small slots and water lenses covered with thin ice. Also be careful to analyze if anything (death flakes etc.) could fall onto your route when climbing.

Hope this helps,

GB

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Thanks Fish,

A meter of new snow may make this adventure more of a scetchy pain in the ass than its worth. I guess I'll just keep grinding my teeth, and wait.

Are there any recomended sources of recent snow conditions on Baker? I didn't find anything in the personal web page links.

Thanks again, see ya.

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I was at the Coleman icefall a few weeks ago and had a great time on some smaller seracs and crevasses. There are definitely some hidden pools, one guy we were with started to punch through the softening ice after he jumped off a wall.

Take the right just past Glacier at the sign for Heliotrope Ridge and park at the wooden outhouse about 8 miles down. The trailhead is just a few yards downhill from the outhouse. Some of the creek crossings were troublesome in the morning when ice covered the rocks, as there weren't many shallow places to just wade through.

We camped at the lookout a little ways up the road and woke to an awesome view of the sunrise over Baker cool.gif" border="0

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For snow conditions at Baker I "rely" on a combo of information from the ranger station at Glacier (360) 599-2714, the Mt. Baker ski area website and gut instinct. Usually the latter is most accurate.

The parking lot is probably around 35-3600 feet and if memory serves me correctly, most of the common seracs are below 5500. Using weather information on the web you can get some idea if it's raining or snowing.

As a rule of thumb, the lower coleman gets much clearer weather than expected. It's better than forecasted 90% of the time. Vancouver and the Fraser valley can be pissing rain and you'll often be above the sytem by a few hundered feet. Unless there's a huge weather system sitting in the area with a 100% chance of steady rain, the area is usually worth a go.

GB

[ 11-02-2001: Message edited by: fishstick ]

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Ok, screw it I'm headed there on Saturday. Any special tips on getting to the best Seracs? Can you eye ball good spots from the trail?

It sounds like you just hook a left where the trail forks just above tree line, then hump it about a mile east to the ice. S'dat da way?

Hope to see yall up there!

Word smile.gif" border="0

[ 11-15-2001: Message edited by: lambone ]

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One thing that might help with finding a good area to climb- don't try to climb on the pretty blue ice. That is the stuff that has fallen more recently and therefore, more dangerous. Look for dirty ice, the ones that have been stable for longer. No matter where you end up, watch out for stuff above you.

[ 11-16-2001: Message edited by: Andy Bourne ]

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After looking at some photo's of the Icefall I realize that my former question is a bit silly. It's no secret wher the ice is.

I hope the road isn't still snowed in.

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The easiest access to the upper ice fall is to drop down next to the feature called survey rock. I believe it is noted on most topos for the area. Just follow the Heliotrope ridge trail and dont take the climbers trail as you approach the tree line. Continue hiking through the meadow/snowfield towards the glacier overloo,k crossing two decent size streams in the process. You should see a boot track or two at this point. One will lead to the Harrison Camp (downhill into the trees) area and one should will lead uphill towards Survey rock. You can access the bottom of the upper icefall by walking under Survey rock and right down to the glacier. Some folks head down through Harrison Camp and take a steep nasty trail to the compression zone but this is much longer and a less enjoyable way og getting there.

Have Fun, see ya out there

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Wow, that's a cool zone! The headwall beckons. Got to meet Philfort and friends!

BTW- The road is fine, except for one HUGE boulder that you must drive around. Above tree line there is 4-6 inches of new dry snow on top of an old rain crust. The rivers don't pose too much trouble, poles help. As Climzalot said, Survey rock is the way to go- super mellow. The ice is nice and firm, just like the Rockies in January, fun stuff! cool.gif" border="0 Thanks for the info folks.

Andy, I thought that most of the big chunks of blue ice looked pretty stable. Not much was moving around this time of year, it was nice and quiet up there. Due to a lack of time, we ended up toproping some old dirty ice that had rocks in it. My picks were not happy...

[ 11-19-2001: Message edited by: Lambone ]

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