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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount Baring/Northwest Ridge

Saturday, May 27, 2017: Conditions were excellent with clear sunny skies, lots of snow above the level of the ridge-walk, but snow almost entirely melted out below that point. Some mud on the steep forest waytrail that ascends directly up the side of the spur. Only a few flags of surveyor's tape and no handlines: hopefully the waytrail will remain unflagged and unlined as the snow continues to melt and folks with a wider range of skills attempt the summit (seriously, if you need this much "help," maybe you should improve your navigation and scrambling skills before attempting a wild backcountry summit). The ridge walk was pleasant and easily followed, no remaining snow. Make a careful note of where the waytrail coming up the flank of the ridge meets the ridge-walk (yes, there are ways to "flag" important route junctures without leaving plastic litter: use a distinctive natural object, take careful observations and mental notes, or just waypoint the spot in your GPS). The steep forest switchbacks were all under steep firm snow above the sidehill traverse: some of our party members used traction devices (crampons or microspikes), especially on the way down. The couloir was in great shape both for kicking steps up and glissading or plunge-stepping down. The wind-formed "vertical step" up out of the upper notch of the couloir was steep and somewhat challenging. The snow was in good condition and held steps and ice axes well, but the available routes up out of the notch were all exposed to trees or moats studded with large rocks. No difficulties beyond using requisite care. From there up to the summit the snow accepted steps well; the rock at the very top was exposed; an informal "register" is in place under a pile of rocks. The views were sensational. 9.0 hours round trip, including a half-hour lunch on the summit and multiple five-fifteen minute breaks. One party member waited in the notch, in part due to incipient leg cramps. The assistant leader kept him company (and used his phone reception to forward plans for an upcoming Rainier climb, lol!).

  • Road suitable for all vehicles