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Trip Report    

Mount Baker/Boulder Glacier

Trip Report: Mt. Baker Boulder Glacier 6/20/15-6/21/15: Party of 9

Met at Boulder Creek TH after registering @Sedro-Woolley Ranger Station. Began pleasant hike on moderate elevation trail(stopping for salmon berries along the way and bushwhacking/log-hopping occasionally) approx. 2.1 miles and cross creek to climber’s left to a non-descript trail on the other side. After a bit of beautiful trail intermixed with some bushwacking, reached a VERY muddy bog. *Note, you WILL get wet socks if you’re wearing trail shoes*. Skirted climber’s right of the bog towards trail-tag marker in tree to semi-obscure path headed to the right across the bog. At the small clearing after the bog, go right. Followed sandy/rocky path up to ridge on variably indiscernible and muddy trails to the narrow meadow below the ridgeline above Boulder Creek before the scramble. Crossed small chossy, rocky slope to gain the ridge line. Scrambled up 3rd class via handline (pretty solid but obviously sun-worn and stiff) onto the moraine prior to roping up for the snowfield and glacier travel on the Boulder Cleaver. Great lunch and trail-shoe cache spot above the scramble about 10 min up the trail on the moraine. Roped up and skirted the toe of the rocky cleaver (watch out for crevasses about 100m from the base and rockfall to climber’s left). Shot straight up route towards the upper-crest of the cleaver then followed three steep snowfield ramps to camp at 7800’ on a rocky/sandy ledge overlooking the broken-up Boulder Glacier. Also possible to dig snow platforms at this point. High camp was advantageous to make full use of the first day. Trailhead to camp in approx 8h at moderate pace.

4am departure from high camp to summit. Freezing temperatures, icy terrain. Climbed slopes mid- and high-dagger in hard icy snow to brief reprieve below crevasse field. Navigated left-right cracks and crevasses and steep snow through 9700’. Placed pickets along the way (used 5). Reached crevasse below bergschrund that was impassable due to length and lack of snow-bridges at 9800’ (7am). Descended to 9650’ and traversed towards the southwest (Boulder Glacier) to attempt another route to summit. Two rope teams out of three traversed farther southwest to investigate crevasse and partially sunken snowbridge on alternative route. At 9am, after seeing snow falling off the surrounding crevasse edges due to the quick freeze-thaw conditions, we determined that it was unsafe and turned the party around, deeming that the snowbridge may not be solid enough upon return and that our turn-around time was quickly approaching and it was unlikely we would reach the summit ridge belaying everyone across the partially collapsed snowbridge at that pace. *SAFETY over SUMMIT!!!*

Looking down from the turnaround point, it seemed like it *might* be possible to head southwest approximately 9200’ and skirt around the bottom of the large crevasse.

Above 9700’ there are some crevasses visible that need to be zigzagged but a boot track to the summit ridge was visible.

Self-belayed and placed pickets along the way down (used all 5 due to runout on snow that was softer but still hard) and arrived at camp around 11:45am and packed up and headed out around 1pm. Reached Glacier Basin and filtered water at bottom of snowfield (5800’). Continued on and set up double glacier rope rappel at scramble. Some party members downclimbed with the assistance of the handline. Could also prussik or single-rope rappel handline. Followed trail *beware of animal trails, they will lead you off-route!* across ridge, traversing above the Boulder Creek. Made it to the cars approx. 8pm. Beautiful and fulfilling trip testing the limits of a basic glacier climb.

Synopsis: Hard glacier climb with strenuous approach. Approximately 18 miles with 8k elevation gain over 2 long, full days. Tough terrain, unrelenting icy snow during the morning, large impassable crevasses, bergschrunds. Melting snow bridges and steep slopes to negotiate. Self-Arrest and solid snow climbing skills a MUST.

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