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jshamster

[TR] Mt. Baker - Park Glacier 5/12/2010

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Trip: Mt. Baker - Park Glacier

 

Date: 5/12/2010

 

Trip Report:

First, a bit of backstory...

 

I moved to B'ham in '92 to snowboard at Baker. The view of Mt. Baker from the ski area amazed me on every bluebird day. Namely staring straight at the Park Glacier. Even though I had absolutely no backcountry, glacier or mountaineering experience at that time, I couldn't help but dream about snowboarding that giant face.

 

Fast forward 18 years, and I've paid a fair amount of dues in the mountains both climbing & snowboarding. Managed to get up & down and stay safe in a large part of our wonderful playground, the North/Central Cascades. Climbing & riding the Park Glacier hasn't sounded like a far-fetched idea at all the last few years.

 

On Wednesday the stars finally aligned, and my brother-in-law & I left the Baker Ski Area at 3:30am, bound for the Park.

We skinned up through the ski area towards Table Mtn. in the dark. Temp leaving the car was probably 37F or so, and the snow below 5500' hadn't frozen overnight. This made for pretty easy skinning all day.

Upon reaching the shoulder before the last scrambley bit up Table, we deskinned & dropped around Table towards Ptarmagin Ridge. Skins back on after a short ski/traverse under the south side of Table, and on towards the Coleman Pinnacle.

 

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We reached the pinnacle in a couple of hours taking skins on or off as needed. Being able to traverse a lot without skins saved a ton of time. From the Coleman Pinnacle saddle we skied down onto the Shales Glacier & skinned up to the Portals. Once on the Portals shoulder we were able to ski all the way down to the base of the Park.

 

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Here we stopped to rehydrate & eat lunch.

 

 

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Did I mention it was hot out? Cookin' hot! We were in t-shirts from first sun to about 10,400'.

We were a bit concerned with the avy danger, given the warm temps, but the Park had no recent activity save for some point releases from the Cockscomb. Looking over at the Mazama glacier, there was a ton of recent avy activity, both point release & slab.

 

So, feeling great after noodle soup lunch, a ton of water & some :grlaf:, we started skinning up the Park. We roped up, but saw no visible, open cracks save for a bergschrund at the base of the Park headwall. We were pretty much able to skin in a straight line right up the middle of the glacier, except for a couple of steep rolls that required a switchback or two.

 

IMG_1974.jpg

 

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There was a convenient break in the 'schrund, and once through that we made a rising traverse toward the ridge above the Cockscomb. Around 9700', below the ridge, skinning became a bit sketchy with no ski crampons, so we threw the skis on the packs, donned crampons & booted up to the ridge. From there another 600' of booting up the ridge saw us to the summit.

 

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We didn't spend much time on the summit. Despite the roasting temps, there was a chilly breeze on top, and it was 2:30pm with a long ways to go still.

 

The Park headwall looked steep & icy, so we skied back down the ridge toward the Cockscomb. Snow was an inch of pow on ice or hard windpack. Don't wanna fall, but not bad skiing.

Dropping off of the ridge was the hardest part for me. See, I'm a snowboarder, but as soon as the ski areas closed this year I put away the board and vowed to learn to backcountry ski. I skied as a kid, but this was my 12th day on skis this year, and all in the last three weeks.

After a bit of side slipping, and messing around, I managed to start linking turns down the 4000' of the Park glacier. The snow up high was not that great. Breakable crust on a few inches of mush.

Below the bergschrund the turns got better & better, finally turning to fast creamy goodness for the last 1500' or so.

 

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Needless to say, the ski/skin back to the Baker Ski Area was long. We were hampered by low flying clouds that forced us to keep skins on and follow the track out in zero vis. We were really looking forward to the ski down from the Coleman Pinnacle saddle, but we couldn't see a thing. Luckily we had a skin track to follow from some guys who were climbing the Park the next day. Thanks!

Finally got back up to the Table mt. shoulder, and had a nice ski back through the ski area. Got back to the car at 8:10pm. Whew!

 

So, there it is. I got to realize a long time goal of mine, and my brother-in-law got to climb and ski a route he had never done before for his 161st time up Baker.

 

cheers

jimbo

 

p.s. - all photos credit Christopher Olson

 

Gear Notes:

8mm 30m rope

skis

skins

stove for water 'cause it was hot!

 

Approach Notes:

Baker Ski Area. Go past Table mt. & traverse straight to the Park glacier. Approx. 8 miles to base of the Park.

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I did the trip out to Coleman last May and really thought the area was great.

Thanks for the report and the back story. Totally cool.

Kudos to the photog. I like the shot of Shuksan through the cloud break.

Cheers!

Tyson

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Jimbo, man, excellent pics and long looking tour. That looks just purely stelar. Right on.

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Right on Jimbo!!!

 

Too funny. I was on the summit maybe ten minutes before you? Bright green pants. I was wondering where you guys came up from. Congrats on decending on skis.

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Scott, damned if you haven't found a wormhole that lets you be on every conceivable summit at once!

 

And damned fine work Jimbo. Why don't you just go split like Ale here?

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Dang, I'm so envious! You had quite a workout by the looks of the boot tracks. I hope to ski Baker (and Rainier) on day. This TR is quite an inspiration.

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Hey John. I rode the splitboard all season. Just wanting to see what I'm capable of on skis.

That's funny Scott. We saw one person disappearing over the horizon right as we were coming up to the summit. Great day on the mountain!

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Hellz yeah Jimbo! Bet you were glad to be on skis for that mission! That pic of shuksan in the clouds is sooooo purdy!!

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Trip: Mt. Baker - Park Glacier

 

Dropping off of the ridge was the hardest part for me. See, I'm a snowboarder, but as soon as the ski areas closed this year I put away the board and vowed to learn to backcountry ski. I skied as a kid, but this was my 12th day on skis this year, and all in the last three weeks.

 

 

SPLITBOARDING IS THE ANSWER MY FRIEND!!!

 

www.karakorambc.com

 

PS. NIIIIIIIIIIIICE freaken work! I've wanted to do that traverse forever!! Way to go doing it all in 1 day!!

 

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Most awesome!! :rawk:

 

A friend from out of town is coming to do Baker in a couple of weeks and I think he was planning on the Easton. I'm going to point him to your TR in hopes he "upgrades" to the Park. :)

 

Also, it's great to see one of the boarder types understands snowboards are for the lifts and skis are for the mountains. (j/p splitboarders, I only kid...I have no self restraint ;) )

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Umm skis are pretty darn fun in powder ;)

 

No matter what kind of sliding device the Park Glacier pictures look nice.

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Umm skis are pretty darn fun in powder ;)

 

No matter what kind of sliding device the Park Glacier pictures look nice.

 

I would toboggan the bejeezus out of the Park glacier... ;)

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Awesome marathon of the Park Gl.! *I* would enjoy it more w/ a base camp.

Thanks esp. for the beta on the Mazama Gl. and the pics of the Park Gl. headwall.

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........Also, it's great to see one of the boarder types understands snowboards are for the lifts and skis are for the mountains. (j/p splitboarders, I only kid...I have no self restraint ;) )

 

Them's fightin' words!

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Coleman Pinnacle, from 1/20/2010

P1040151.jpg

 

Park Headwall, from 1/20/2010

P1030802-1.jpg

 

 

How did crevasses look on the headwall when you were there?

 

 

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the crevasses were a lot like the ones in your photo, just configured a little differently and slightly more filled in.

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