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nutsandbolts

[TR] Mt Baker - Boulder Cleaver 5/7/2016

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Trip: Mt Baker - Boulder Cleaver

 

Date: 5/7/2016

 

Trip Report:

It's a little late now, but hopefully the info is useful for folks.

 

We set the alarm for 3:30am and started up the trail 20 minutes later after a quick cup of tea and some oatmeal. As expected, we found a generous supply of winter blow-down and large puddles on trail. I'd highly recommend GORE-TEX-fortified trail runners or boots. I wore my non-waterproof trail running shoes and got wet quickly, which made for soggy feet all day. Many descriptions of this route state that after 2 miles, the trail ends in a meadow or bog, depending on the season. I read many stories of epic bushwacks from here to the toe of the glacier. There is a trail on the other side of the bog and although it is not distinct (think 'climbers trail' not 'hiking trail') it does provide good access through the forest and up to Boulder Ridge. The trail starts directly behind a campsite on the far side of the meadow.

 

After 3 miles we were able to skin for a while before hitting the 3rd class scramble to gain the ridge. We found the fixed rope, which appeared solid, and used it. Once on top of Boulder Ridge, we began the long skin up the snow slopes. We traded skis for crampons and a rope near the top of the cleaver and carefully picked our way around some of the crevasses on the upper Boulder Glacier.

 

Most of this route is south-facing and warms quickly, which meant soft snow and we post-holed up to our knees routinely. Many of the snow bridges were still intact and substantial, but soft. We reached the summit around 3:30pm, appalled at our slow progress but relieved. After a few summit selfies we descended to our skis only to find that the upper slopes held a horrid icy crust with wet snow below. The conditions improved greatly as we descended and we managed to get some in some good turns farther down.

 

We switched back into our shoes shortly before dark but struggled to find the little trail that led back into the woods. Finding an incredibly faint trail, covered in fallen trees and patches of snow, at dusk, is hard. We knew where we were, but without that little trail, getting out was going to be a major pain. The GPS had died so we broke out the map and compass and headed off into the darkness. A hour or so later, we found the bog and the trail back to the car. After navigating all the downed trees for second time we returned to the car, totally exhausted, but totally stoked.

 

More beta, GPS tracks, and pictures here

 

Baker13.jpg

 

IMG_6118.JPG

 

baker12.jpg

 

IMG_19213.JPG

 

Baker42.jpg

 

Baker33.jpg

Edited by nutsandbolts

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Nice job on getting it done in a day! I did this route a couple years ago and really enjoyed climbing Baker without all the crowds. The views of Shuksan were amazing too!

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