Trip Report    

Alpine Ice FT1 - Heliotrope Ridge and Lower Coleman Glacier & Seracs

Successful Field Trip 1 for Alpine Ice course led by Jerry Logan

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Glacier Creek Road going up to to the washout is accessible for all vehicles, with a few pot holes to avoid. Most of this road is paved, or was paved and has weathered down to gravel in some sections. 

    Past the washout, road was ~80% paved with asphalt, the rest was gravel. Gravel or mountain bikes highly recommended for both uphill and down. Good brakes required for the steep downhill sections. 

Trip lead: Jerry Logan

Participants: Allison Lloyd, Chris Thompson, Ed Lucas, Isley Gao, Michael Drob, Paul Wade, Sahand Mozaffari, Tom Finley

Half the group arrived at the washout on Glacier Creek Road on Friday evening and the other half arrived Saturday morning. Sleeping at the trailhead was an unpleasant experience due to rodents in the area--they scurried around and on our vehicles and some even got inside throughout the night. I woke up in the morning to my tissues all ripped up and rodent poop on my dash. 

We were ready to go at 7am on Saturday morning, and most of us had bikes for the trip from the washout to Heliotrope trailhead. Those with e-bikes cruised up in around 45 min, while the rest of us with manual bikes took 1-1.5hr for the 4.4 mi uphill ride. Some sections were too steep to bike up so many of us spend awhile walking our bikes.


Heliotrope trailhead was empty except for one motorcross-type bike. Plenty of spots for us to lock our bikes. Bathrooms were locked.  

Pretty uneventful uphill hike to Mirkwood camp except for the creek crossings. I recall 3 minor creek crossings (socks stayed dry) and one big creek crossing where we waded up to our knees/thighs.

One of the smaller creek crossings where we stepped on rocks to cross it

Ed crossed first and set up a fixed rope to help the rest of us across. Would recommend wearing your camp shoes or approach shoes instead of mountaineering boots, since they will get soaked and take longer to dry than your camp shoes. 

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The group arrived at Mirkwood camp around noon and set up camp, filtered water from the creek, then descended to Coleman glacier where Jerry demonstrated v-thread anchors and ice screw placement. The glacier had no snow coverage but did have plenty of dirt. Many areas that looked like dirt were actually a thin layer of dirt over hard ice, so we put on crampons a bit before we descended onto the main part of the glacier.


We hiked up to the base of a ridge where Jerry lead climbed the face and set up 3 top rope anchors for us to practice on. 


We practiced V-thread and A-thread anchors at the base and started top roping in pairs after the anchors were set up. Each person was able to do a couple laps up the face while Jerry stayed above to periodically check the screws and re-place them when they started melting out. 

Tom top roping while Jerry throws down the rope for another route from above


We headed back toward camp around 5:30pm, had dinner, and turned in early. The next morning, Michael and Allison decided to hike out along with Ed due to a fall the day before. The remaining group of 6 descended down to the glacier again and practiced swinging leads on low angle ice, eventually reaching the same ridge face that we had top roped at the day before. 

Chris and myself lead climbed the face and set up top rope anchors. Jerry set up the third top rope anchor. 


The group climbed until exhaustion and decided to descend the glacier around 1pm since rain clouds were rolling in. 

We exchanged gear and packed up camp and stared the hike out. The main creek crossing this time was fairly quick--no fixed line this time, just wading through. Less than a half mile from the trailhead we encountered a swarm of wasps and nearly everyone got stung at least a few times. We ran into a few day hikers who got stung as well. 

 We rode our bikes down the mostly paved road back to our cars---This is where mountain bike tires with more traction would be ideal. I had a road bike that had trouble braking on the steeper sections or any sections with gravel or lots of pine needles, so had to go slow. Eventually we all made it down safely to our vehicles, and everyone's vehicle started okay despite the rodents. 

All in all a pretty good 2 day field trip where we learned the basics of ice climbing.


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Jerry Logan
Jerry Logan says:
Sep 04, 2023 08:48 PM

Thanks for writing this Isley. Two incident reports filed on this trip. WASPS about .25-.35 miles right on the trail. They are NOT HAPPY and AGGRESSIVE. All members except the one that has anaphylactic reaction were stung at least once.