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Luke Schwartzel

[TR] Mt Baker - North Ridge 4/19/2015

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Trip: Mt Baker - North Ridge

 

Date: 4/19/2015

 

Trip Report:

A few of us had been wanting to try the north ridge on Baker for a while and we finally got the weather window we were hoping for. The storm last week left a few feet of snow which made the conditions much better than expected.

 

We drove in Saturday night and got a few hours sleep before heading out around 3:45am. There was actually still snow at the Heliotrope ridge TH but it was not continuous enough to skin up or ski down so we walked all the way to the timberline. Once we got out of the trees and up on the ridge we strapped on our skins and followed the boot pack.

 

P4195328.JPG

 

Sunrise started at the top of the ridge and we got out first look at the route. We ended up following the boot pack a little too far on the standard route and lost a little elevation when we cut left.

 

There was another group ahead of us headed toward the ridge so we followed them through the crevasse fields and up the ridge

 

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Once we were on the ridge we were within sight of the ice cliffs and followed the group ahead of us to the left side of the cliffs where we were expecting the climb to be the easiest.

 

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The leftmost route on the cliffs turned out to be pretty intimidating.

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After waiting about an hour for the group ahead of us to climb the first pitch we decided that we didn't want to wait and decided to give the route in the middle of the cliffs a try. We started traversing to the right and saw some pretty awesome icy terrain.

 

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We started setting some pro and belayed across the sketchy parts of the traverse. Going around the corner was especially sketchy since it was pretty exposed and vertical.

 

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We ran out of rope length and set up a for a second pitch. The belay wasn't quite a hanging belay but the slope was close to 50 degrees. It was rather intimidating with the exposure below. I couldn't really get any good pics of the area but here's one looking up from the second belay.

 

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Once we topped out the cliffs, it was a nice steepish climb to the serac field. We ended up meeting up with the group we were following before.

 

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We couldn't find the secret passage so we went right around the seracs.

 

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From there the summit was easily attained. We got some water and food and got ready for the ski descent. The snow was perfect for skiing and the best I'd had in a long time.

 

P4195427.JPGP4195434.JPG

 

Gear Notes:

6 screws, 3 pickets (used everything).

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Glad you guys made it. Were you the ones we talked to in the parking lot? We had attempted Sat. and switched to coleman demming due to not having brought our skis...

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The standard route (Easton Glacier) has some cracks by early summer. On the decent are you following some boot track figuring if they did not fall in you won't either? Or is it the early season idea, everything is filled in with snow? The old watch for depressions bit?

 

There is no judgement on my part, I have been skiing more places of late and trying to understand the decisions. And I had a trip to Alaska where recent snow made cravase detection very difficult; everything was smooth until sticking a snowshoe through.

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They would have skied down the Coleman-Deming which is the other standard route.

 

Skiing unroped on glaciers is safer here than it is in Alaska because the snow is heavier and stickier. And at least on Baker it's a lot safer if you've been there a bunch have have a good memory of the layout of the crevasses. I'm not sure if anyone has a good handle of how risky it is, but it's fairly common practice, and I don't remember hearing of any accidents from controlled & unroped skiing over a glacier in this region recently.

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@Sidviscous Car to car it was 14 hours. 12 hours up, 2 down. The cliffs took around 4 hours.

 

@abarlow Probably if you were the guys who came out Saturday night. I finally got around to making my first trip report.

 

@HernyG On the descent we passed over some snow bridges on the CD but they seemed okay and since we were on skis (vs footsteps) we thought we were safe to pass over them. There was significant bootpack going over all the bridges too. Ropes are always a good idea if you're not 100% confident.

 

 

 

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They would have skied down the Coleman-Deming which is the other standard route.

 

Skiing unroped on glaciers is safer here than it is in Alaska because the snow is heavier and stickier. And at least on Baker it's a lot safer if you've been there a bunch have have a good memory of the layout of the crevasses. I'm not sure if anyone has a good handle of how risky it is, but it's fairly common practice, and I don't remember hearing of any accidents from controlled & unroped skiing over a glacier in this region recently.

 

A climbing ranger was killed on Ranier a couple years ago from falling into a crevasse.

Edited by cookiejar

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