Trip Report    

Mount Baker/North Ridge

A classic climb with a bit of spice. One of Fred Beckey's favorites.

  • Wed, Jun 6, 2018 — Thu, Jun 7, 2018
  • Mount Baker/North Ridge
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route is in good shape.

Pete Erickson and I took advantage of a mid-week weather window to climb Mt Baker's North Ridge. We left the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead around 2:30 p.m. and by 4:45 p.m. we were setting up camp on a dry bench at 5900' with running water nearby. Recent snow had erased most boot tracks so we scouted the route that we would travel by headlamp the next morning.

Around 4 a.m. we ascended to about about 6200' and then headed towards the west/higher option to start the North Ridge route. We were able to weave our way through the Coleman glacier crevasses on a more-or-less direct line; future parties may need to take a more circuitous route as the crevasses open up.

There are several ways to surmount the ice cliff, which is considered the crux of the route. We chose to head right and climb up along the left side of the rock outcropping shown in the left-center of the photo. This had stretches of alpine ice of various textures, hard water ice, and crumbly rock held together by ice. It worked for us but it is not particularly recommended, We covered the technical climbing with two belays and long stretches of simulclimbing.

Above the ice cliff there is still some interesting climbing. Most write-ups recommend going left below the summit cap; we followed a faint set of boot tracks that went right, weaved around some small crevasses, crossed a narrow snow bridge over a big crevasse, and front-pointed up some great alpine ice.

We topped out around noon and had the summit all to ourselves. There were some clouds about but we had nice views of Shuksan, North Twin, and other peaks. We descended the Coleman Glacier route back to camp, packed up, and were back at the car at 5:30 p.m.

It was a great day out with lots of interesting decisions to make and many climbing challenges.

Gear: 60 m half/twin rope, 7 ice screws (used 6), 2 pickets (used 1).