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Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Mount Baker/North Ridge

A successful climb of the North Ridge of Mount Baker

  • Road rough but passable

We left the busy trailhead around 8:45am on Saturday.  Stream crossings were not an issue.  After crossing the last stream, headed directly uphill on snow, following the well established boot pack.  Should be there for another week or so before it melts out completely.

We camped on the "Football Field" at ~6600' due east and away from the crowded camps on the main Coleman route.  Arrived at camp around 11:30am.  We roped up and headed for the North Ridge to establish a boot path as others have recommended, this definitely paid off the next day, so we didn't have to second guess any crevasses in the dark.

Picture of the North Ridge on Saturday.  We did the "higher ridge start", right of the rock band and left of the crevasses.  This may not be an option too much longer - you may want to explore the "lower ridge start" option that looked good as well.  There was quite a bit of rock fall hazard and a questionable snowbridge (not really visible in the picture)

We returned to camp, ate dinner and tried to sleep at 6pm in the blazing sun.

Left camp at 2am and followed our footsteps, and climbed the west face of the north ridge.  After gaining the ridge, the difficulties lessened quite a bit for a 1000' or so.

Approaching the ice cap.  We had discussed going to the left and do the ice climb there, but there were footprints leading to the rock band and it looked like a shorter, easier pitch of ice climbing, so we headed there.

Right before the rock band it became very steep and we placed pickets and ice screws.  Traversing onto the rock was quite tricky.  The ice cap was dripping water, which froze onto the rocks.  The rocks themselves were barely holding on.  Several screws were placed on the traverse.  Then it was about 10m of 50-60 degree alpine ice climbing (AI2?) until the lip, where we setup the anchor.

After the ice cap, the going was much easier.  We were still using two tools, but it wasn't completely necessary.

The final difficulty was the "Secret Passage", which contained a deep moat that we climbed into and sketchy snowbridge across a crevasse.  Seen in the picture below, you head straight for the snow wall, then turn left (don't go too high after turning left, there is an undercut crevasse that is not visible until you have finished traversing)

We reached the summit 7 hours and 33 minutes after leaving camp at 2am.  Descended the coleman route without incident, and returned to camp around 12:30.  Packed up and back to cars around 2:30pm.  Pizza at Chair 9 at 3pm.

 

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