Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Baker/Squak Glacier

A one-day climb of Mount Baker via the Squak Glacier.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The Squak Glacier is in great shape, with minimal crevasses that are all easily bypassed. For those looking at Sherman Peak, the west ridge to the summit is melted out. For those going up to the main summit of Mount Baker, the Roman Wall on the Deming Glacier is in good condition.

We planned a one-day climb of Sherman Peak, a sub-summit of Mount Baker (Kulshan). We went up the Squak Glacier but backed off at the summit block. We had plenty of time and great weather so we climbed the main summit (Grant Peak) instead.

Before the climb we were concerned about glacier conditions after the recent stretch of hot weather. But Peter Tran and Barton Place provided good beta from their successful climb/ski a few days earlier. So our party of three met at the Park Butte Trailhead and headed out at 3:00 a.m.

Rather than following the Mountaineers route description (which goes up the Railroad Grade) we went the more direct route via the Scott Paul trail, described by the USFS here: Squak Climbing Route. We got on the Squak Glacier near point 6513 (labeled Crag View on some maps) and found running water.


As we ascended the sky lightened to a clear blue. The temperatures were moderate. The snow was firm but not icy. The views were tremendous. There were no other parties in sight. There were no mosquitos. The conditions were near ideal except for a steady wind, though that helped keep us cool as we worked our way up to the summit block.


The Squak Glacier was in great shape. The few crevasses that were open were easy to bypass. We soon arrived at the base of the summit block of Sherman Peak.

The Mountaineers route description for Sherman Peak says to climb the south ridge on snow. That did not look feasible and the snow was gone. The GPS tracks of previous ascents go up the west ridge. We climbed up to the west ridge, which was also melted out. What remained was loose rock held together by wet sand. Every step dislodged a small avalanche of debris. Backing off of the ridge, we attempted to wrap around to the north side, which still held snow. But the slope was steep, the snow condition was only fair, and the runout was poor, so we turned around. In hindsight, the route should be done when there is enough snow coverage to hold the ridge together. (Of the 50+ ascents recorded on Peakbagger, none are in August.)


After we were done messing around with Sherman Peak we huddled up and decided to switch our objective to Grant Peak. We crossed over to the Deming Glacier, switchbacked up the Roman Wall, and hit the summit around 12:30 p.m.


The descent was uneventful and we were back at the trailhead before 5:00 p.m. The Squak Glacier is a nice, direct alternative to the popular Easton Glacier. As a weekday climb we saw a few guided parties on the Roman Wall but no one else all day. The stats from GaiaGPS: 14 miles, 7500 ft gain.