Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Baker/Coleman Glacier

Classic overnight glacier climb, great conditions. Turned around at 9,200ft saddle due to altitude sickness.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Parking at the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead requires a national pass again (since July 6th). The ranger station in Glacier is closed, although you can find weather, trail and route updates there, together with blue bags, a voluntary climb registration form, and a machine to buy parking passes (at most 3 days).

    Trail is snow-free up to Hogsback Camp; river crossings did not pose a problem, although we only crossed in the morning. Good boot track from Hogsback Camp up to Black Buttes Camp and beyond. 

    The big crevasse at 8,800ft was... big, and the snowbridge crossing was already a bit sketchy. Step gingerly. It will probably melt soon, especially considering the hot weather we've been having. I recommend following the Mt. Baker Rangers reports on Instagram or calling:

We had excellent weather for this classic 2-day climb, with clear skies and warm temperatures. We filled up on water at Hogsback Camp (6000ft), where there are plenty of running streams, then roped up for the ascent to Black Buttes Camp (7000ft).

Snow was soft but not outrageously so. This was the latest I've ever been on Mt. Baker, and it was fascinating to see big crevasses and seracs - much more exciting than in May or early June! There was even a crevasse in the middle of what is usually a flat spot at Black Buttes Camp: 


We were happy to be setting camp ahead of some big groups behind us, and were able to get some great spots before settling in to melt snow, cook dinner and go to bed early. In keeping with the club COVID guidance, everyone had brought their own tent or bivy: 


We had decided on a 1am start time, to beat the heat of the day and the crowds. We woke up around midnight and watched the stunning Neowise comet bright in the northern sky. There was a great boot track across the Coleman Glacier, and we did not have to cross any visible crevasses until reaching the infamous bridge over the 8,800ft crevasse. I wish I had photos, but we were too busy not falling in: the bridge was getting thin and I cannot imagine it will last more than a few more days. We encountered one more significant crevasse pretty soon after. Pro tip: don't try to jump the crevasse even if there seem to be tracks going across; it's safer to go around!


Unfortunately one of our climbers was not feeling well: they reported increasing nausea and they had had severe headache in camp the night before. Upon reaching the Baker / Colfax saddle we took a longer break to see if the symptoms would abate, but they did not. Many thanks to my mentor Krzys for making the tough (but the only correct) decision to turn around: with sunrise still hours away, chilly temperatures, crevasse crossings and increasing symptoms of altitude sickness, there was no choice but to turn around. 


The climber reported feeling better as we lost elevation. Nevertheless, we decided to forego resting in camp and came down as quickly as possible after packing, taking breaks as necessary.


We returned at the cars by 9:30am, and everyone including the sick climber reported feeling ok enough to drive home. Many thanks to Krzys for mentoring me, and to the whole team for great spirits, working together well and offering advice about my love life.