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sarge

Baker: late Dec to early Jan

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I am definitely a newbie, but I took a six day course on alpine climbing through American Alpine Institute. We summitted Baker on the dog route (Emmons I believe) but I heard about a route on the north side that has one or two pitches of 60 degree ice. I am interested in giving it a shot and feel confident that I can be fresh enough on my skills by then (the course was over the summer). I am looking for a more experienced climbing partner (or several) who would enjoy the chance to go out and have some fun as well as share their wisdom and love of the mountains.

 

I work in Virginia, but I will be in the Seattle area for Thanksgiving. I would like to meet anyone who is interested (and you probably want to meet me too) over that time. Let me know if you're interested or if you have a climb planned that is of similar nature and you wouldn't mind having an extra along. Thanks for considering.

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Here's some wisdom I can share: we have this thing called "Winter" around here, so it sounds like you're interested in a "winter ascent" of the North Ridge of Baker, which requires (perhaps) some important skills of "Winter Alpinism" that your AAI experience may not have instilled in you.

Edited by Choada_Boy

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I am conscious of the fact that there are issues about winter alpinism that I do not understand and probably a vast skill set that I have yet to master. If this is a bad place or way to learn those skills, then please let me know. I thought it would be a way to get experience on a different type of route and also in very different conditions. I know there are skills I need to learn, but there is only so much you can learn without doing.

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I know there are skills I need to learn, but there is only so much you can learn without doing.

 

Winter climbing skills are best learned on smaller peaks that in the winter become worthy mountaineering goals. I recommend that you look into the following:

 

Snoqualmie Pass

Chair Peak, Guye Peak, Red Mountain, The Tooth

 

Mt Rainier

Castle Peak, Lane Peak, Pinnacle Peak, Camp Muir

 

North Cascades

Whitehorse, Twin Sisters, Sahale Peak

 

Central

Colchuck Peak, Dragontail Peak

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How much winter camping/hiking/climbing experience do you have? Because climbing these volcanoes in the summer months really don't teach you about being out in the cold/snow.

 

The only thing I would say is that for a winter ascent I'd probably wait until later when snowpack is deeper and snowbridges solid. I'm also guessing that whatever fireroad you take now to get to the trailhead will probably not be plowed, adding a lot more mileage to a winter trip - probably an approach involving a sled pulk, because it would take days.

 

Sounds like a lot of fun, but it would just take a long time and getting the right conditions... Baker does get a s#$t load of snow and traversing over to the N ridge might be deadly with the whole N face wanting to slide towards you.

 

So... if you don't have much real winter experience (snow, cold, winds), then I probably wouldn't learn them on the N Ridge.

Going up the Easton in winter would probably be a good test as it is.

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Thanks so much for the helpful insight and suggestions! As you might imagine, I'm not trying to end up dead so thanks for helping me out. Castle Peak sounds like it could be a good choice, or Easton on Baker since I've been on that route. Thanks again!

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North Ridge is a great route, but I wouldn't try it in winter if you have no winter experience. The ice section is short too, I don't know how much ice would be exposed with the amounts of Snow Baker gets.

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Easton is a snowmobile park. Heliotrope ridge is plowed for snowmobiles up to the trailhead, but you can only take a car (with four wheel drive - my Volvo got stuck with chains on) about half way up. You don't need a sled, either. We walked on snow shoes from nearly the beginning of the road to about 5,500 on Heliotrope in one day last year. I've skinned it about 3 times with a 35-pound pack in a day no problem.

 

If you have ideal conditions, and don't have to plunge step, you could knock it off in two days. Otherwise, plan at least one extra day for post-holing. Even with skis it can be long and arduous (I've done two one-day ascents of Rainier, and other crazy stuff, so trust me on that).

 

Last bit of advice: Check the avalanche forecast religiously and stay in uber shape

 

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