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Steph_Abegg

[TR] Mount Baker - North Ridge 6/27/2012

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Trip: Mount Baker - North Ridge

 

Date: 6/27/2012

 

Trip Report:

On Wednesday, June 27, Tom Sjolseth, Daniel Jeffrey, and I took advantage of a 1-day weather window in late June to climb the North Ridge of Baker. This route is often regarded as one of the best technical snow-and-ice climbs on a Cascades volcano. We had great early summer conditions, and even with a spicy ice pitch variation, a party of three, and a scenic forested detour on the descent, we climbed the route car-to-car in 14 hours. Car-to-trip-report: 30.5 hours.

 

As usual, I've posted a full trip report on my website:

http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/bakernridge

 

John Scurlock flyby:

Friend and aerial photographer John Scurlock knew I was climbing the north ridge of Baker, so he made a brief Baker detour on a fueling flight to Arlington. When I got home, sure enough, there was an email and a bunch of photos from John. Pretty cool to see yourselves climbing from this perspective!

7462063280_d61ed46a10_c.jpg

 

Map/Route:

Route overlay on aerial photo.

Route overlay on photo from climb.

GPS track.

 

Photos:

Due to the technical and car-to-car nature of this climb, I decided to just bring a point-and-shoot camera rather than my shoots-much-better-photos-but-not-when-you've-got-only-one-hand-free SLR. It was a stellar day in the mountains, so I still got some fairly decent photos nonetheless.

 

 

7461054752_3d54d1ebb4.jpg =Tom traversing the Coleman Glacier towards the North Ridge. Fairweather early morning clouds over the summit of Baker. This photo was taken shortly before we started encountering bigger crevasses and roped up accordingly.

7461056332_35970449a1.jpg =Lincoln Peak shrouded in early morning mist.

7461057462_b34a246481.jpg =Sunlit seracs on the upper Coleman Glacier, with Colfax Peak still in shadow behind.

7461057904_aa26f886fc.jpg =There are some giant cracks on the Coleman Glacier.

7461058434_6c36837ec3.jpg =A watch-me-here snow bridge.

7461059270_5805180272.jpg =Looking back at the Coleman Glacier we just crossed.

7461059932_acbf348e31.jpg =What a nice day! We headed up the slope just to the right above Tom's head in this photo. This is the "higher start" in Nelson and Potterfield's guidebook. In later season, icy conditions and/or rockfall and/or the bergschrund might prevent easy access to the ridge this way, and an alternative is to go around the toe of the ridge ("lower start") on the left.

7461061550_7b1be833e6.jpg=Sunlight and shadow.

7461062088_093e1b4a9a.jpg =Another snowbridge on the Coleman Glacier.

7461063032_6d96f0aa88.jpg =Ascending the slope ("higher start") to gain the North Ridge proper.

7461063304_29c4157994.jpg =Easy travel on the 35-40° slopes of the lower North Ridge.

7461063626_97d908ca25.jpg =At 9,600', things get interesting. Here there is an obvious steep step. There are several possible route variations here. We chose to go left, while a couple of other parties on the route chose to go right. If we had gone left around the toe of the ridge, it would actually have been pretty mellow, but we got suckered into a 70-80° ice cliff (just to the right of Daniel in this photo).....

7461063850_e952d42159.jpg =Tom leading the 70-80° ice cliff pitch, perhaps 50' or so. This is definitely past my leading comfort zone. But in retrospect it was a fun pitch and added a bit of spice to the route.

7461064508_a28e63c5c4.jpg =Daniel at the screw and tool belay at the base of our ice cliff pitch.

7461064714_e359f7b0e7.jpg =Daniel topping out on the crest of the ice cliff at the top of the first pitch. That splitboard might be heavy and clunky here, but it will be worth it for the 30 minute descent and impressive car-to-car time!

7461065336_640cd828a7.jpg =Looking up the second ice pitch, along the crest of the ice cliff. This was easier than the first pitch but still required a few screws along the way. The nice part about climbing the left side of the ice step is that it feels like you are staying more on the ridge crest.

7461065686_91304b8677.jpg =Above the 2-pitch ice step, the ridge opens up onto broader snow-and-ice slopes. A slip here would be difficult to stop and you'd find yourself back below the ice step you just ascended and probably not in any shape to reascend it, so we stayed roped up and set a couple of pickets as we continued upward. As the photo shows, it was a bit windy and the anchors often had to be dug out from a fresh layer of spindrift.

7461065994_3623b31bf5.jpg =Eventually the rope and pickets got annoying and the terrain kicked back enough that we decided to unrope and slog to the summit. There were a few steep and icy sections on the final section, but the conditions made for good crampon point and axe tip purchase. (I had thought that this final section would pose some serac and crack issues, but perhaps these were chocked in with early-season snowcover.)

7461065846_affa150285.jpg =Daniel ascending the final slope to the summit plateau.

7461066230_aa93b1b8f0.jpg =Tom on the summit plateau. The true summit (called Grant Peak) is the highest point in the middle of the photo.

7461066598_9b95b597fd.jpg =On the summit! Always bring a pen and alphabet cookies to the summit—then, if the register lacks a pen, you've got one, and if the register is buried, just sign the summit, take a photo, and eat the register.

7461066756_04d1670e43.jpg =Descending the Coleman-Deming route.

7461066878_c188afa369.jpg =There are some large crevasses on the Coleman Glacier, so Tom and I stayed roped up for most of the descent. Daniel had brought his snowboard, which I suppose in theory would make it easier to coast right over thin snowbridges and jump larger cracks that you cannot avoid in time.

7461067002_22b8becd42.jpg =A sun halo above Colfax Peak. A sign of weather to come....

7461067158_e83a44b927.jpg =We enjoyed a few 300 ft/min glissades. In fact, we enjoyed our final glissade so much that we ended up taking it nearly to trailhead elevation in the wrong drainage....a scenic detour through the forest ensues....

7461067358_bd8190a7cc.jpg =Found on the lower Coleman Glacier. Seems rather odd that you could lose such an item, as a bag of droppings in your backpack would certainly be something I would want to keep tabs on at all times. Especially if it's anywhere near those alphabet cookies you can eat after you get to the summit.

Edited by Steph_Abegg

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Let me be the first to congratulate you Steph et al.

 

Great TR & pics.

 

I swear if I ever do Baker again it'll be this route.

 

regards,

 

d

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Pretty good for someone who (less than 2 years ago) was told she would never be climbing again, let alone at the level she is. Way to go Steph!

 

Here are my photos...

 

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Daniel approaches in early light.

 

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Daniel and the Coleman Glacier.

 

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Lincoln Peak hides in the background. I was on the summit less than a week ago.

 

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A giant shadow.

 

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Looking up at Mt. Baker's summit from the approach.

 

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The Coleman.

 

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Views from the Coleman.

 

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Approaching the N Ridge.

 

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Looking up towards Colfax Peak.

 

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Steph approaches a monster crevasse.

 

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Down the Coleman.

 

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The sun makes an appearance on the W side of Mt. Baker.

 

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Contrast.

 

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More of the approach.

 

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Gaining the N Ridge.

 

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The Ice Cliff.

 

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Daniel enjoys a fine Wednesday.

 

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Steph getting ready to climb.

 

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Daniel heads up the second pitch.

 

IMG_0863_resize.JPG

About to transition from knife-edge ridge to upper snow slopes.

 

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Cumulus clouds hung around all day making for great photography opportunities.

 

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Looking down from the middle of the second pitch.

 

IMG_0868_resize.JPG

The upper snow slopes on the North Ridge.

 

IMG_0872_resize.JPG

Daniel waltzes across the summit plateau.

 

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Still waltzing.

 

IMG_0883_resize1.JPG

Mt. Shuksan.

 

IMG_0890_resize.JPG

Daniel snowboarding back down. I was only slightly jealous (he went under 12 hours c2c).

 

IMG_0899_resize.JPG

Crevasse and Colfax Peak.

 

IMG_0902_resize.JPG

NOT a Sun Dog (unfortunately, I forgot what Steph told me it IS).

 

IMG_0904_resize.JPG

Colfax and the aforementioned phenomenon.

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Doc's know a lot but they sure don't know everything. They can't quantify heart, and the will a person may possess to overcome physical pain and accompanying mental strain to accomplish the things they really want to do in life...

 

I am so glad to see Steph back in the mountains, and what a pleasure to share in this achievement.

 

d

 

 

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A grand day out and some great lighting. That one with prints and the rope marks is stunning.

 

Steph, great to see you back in the mountains!

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Thanks for the rad TR, Steph! I was with the other party of three (the arrow is me). I recognized John's plane when he buzzed by and am stoked to see that he got a shot of us on the NR. You pretty much saved me the job of writing up a TR. Minus the split board, you told our story too but far more aptly than I would have been able to do.

 

Glad to see you are healing up.

 

Jonathan

aerial.jpg

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Thanks for the rad TR, Steph!

 

You're welcome. Nice to find out who the other parties were on the route, especially with that great photo Scurlock captured of all of us on the route that day. His flight around the mountain really did have perfect timing, with all of us on the ice step like that.

 

Now, who's the 3rd party....?

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The third party was two nice gents from SoCal who were on a climbing road trip in the NW for a couple of weeks. I don't recall their names but were generous enough to share a couple of beers with us afterwards!

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Sweet trip - way to get the weather window dialed... oh just checked... was a weekday :) NICE.

 

Doesn't look like you needed to lug the SLR on that one... amazing pictures - thanks for the encouragement to get out on this route - it's been moved up the list...

 

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great climb and photos! looks like fun.

 

not trying to poop on anyones equipment but the splitboarder should try out an AT boot setup. (dynafit tlt5 boots are popular with splitters, will tour, climb and ride good, and save him some weight and clunkiness)

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That is quite the recovery Steph! Good to see you back out in the hills, capturing great images as per usual.

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Nice pictures and trip report.

 

We were on the route on Monday, a couple of days before. (hopefully, our foot prints were still there for you.) We took the lower start to the ridge, looping around the foot of the ridge to access it from the other side. I think that your higher start looked better, as we had to contend with some evil crevasses and exposure to gain the ridge (scariest part of the whole climb for me.)

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What were the snow conditions on the Coleman-Deming route like? Icy? Post-holing? Can you drive right to the trailhead? Thinking of heading up the CD route in the next week.

 

Thx

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What were the snow conditions on the Coleman-Deming route like? Icy? Post-holing? Can you drive right to the trailhead? Thinking of heading up the CD route in the next week.

 

Thx

 

Yes you can drive to the trailhead, and the trail is pretty easy to follow even when it hits the snow. the conditions on the Col-Dem route were good, it's an easy snow climb right now. A bit post-holey on the way down though a the day warms up, but only for about an hour so I wouldn't have carted snowshoes up there just for that. going up in the early AM it should be nice and firm.

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Thx, Steph. I am planning to leave the trailhead by 11pm, summit by 7am and be off the glacier by 9am at the latest.

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Saturday at about 6600'and above, new snow from last week made for postholing, even in the early a.m. When the weather settles down and more climbers punch in the cattle trail, the C/D will be much easier still.

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great climb and photos! looks like fun.

 

not trying to poop on anyones equipment but the splitboarder should try out an AT boot setup. (dynafit tlt5 boots are popular with splitters, will tour, climb and ride good, and save him some weight and clunkiness)

 

It's OK, I poop on his equipment all the time trying to get him to upgrade to TLT5s (that's what I ski on). He swears the La Sportiva Nepal EVOs work fine.. what's remarkable is he seems to do OK on them.

 

 

Nice to meet you guys bonathanjarret and team.. I hope our music selection wasn't too irritating!

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Great report and photos! It sure helped this past Saturday up there.. Conditions across the Coleman and leading up to the ice cliff were a bit sloggy but definitely improved above that. Did you sneak a peek down the last crevasse just before topping out? It was a doozy.. A great route no doubt!

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