Trip Report    

Mount Baring/Northwest Ridge

Great snowy trip up Baring on a second attempt. Early start kept the avy danger to a minimum.

  • Road rough but passable
  • Route mostly snow covered still, avy danger abounds due to warming weather. See Trip Report for more info.

Successfully summited Baring Mountain on a second attempt! 

I wrote a previous report that speaks to the trail up to the basin before the col, so I won't cover that again.

Climbing partner and I broke trail from 3/4 along the ridge all the way to the summit. Total time was about 6 hours up, 4 hours down. Spoke to a party that came after us and it took them about 9 hours, so even with a broken trail to follow this route is extremely long. The main issue on this route is avalanche danger. Once the warming starts, the col up to the saddle is a perfect slide area and old cornices along the basin threaten to fall. Trees and the surrounding cliffs are primed to drop snow onto the col as temps increase, potentially triggering slides. Case in point, as we were coming back along the ridge we heard the loud rumble of an avalanche that sounded like it came from Baring. We spoke to a couple coming back from Barclay Lake who said they saw avalanche debris coming off of Baring, probably the same one we heard. Hard to tell exactly where it came from, but you definitely don't want to be up there mid afternoon this time of year. A 7:00am-8:00am start is doable but earlier is better. If you plan to do this or any other trail in the back/sidecountry, please educate yourself on avalanche risks. NWAC offers free Avalanche Awareness classes that at least get you the basics. I asked one of the other groups out there if they had avalanche training since I was hoping someone was AIARE certified and was met with blank stares. I won't try to tell someone how to live their life, but it's scary how dangerous of terrain you can get into without even knowing it, myself included when I first started out.

When we got to the basin around 9:30am there was still a healthy crust on the snow that gave us the confidence to pick our way across and start up the col. 2/3 of the way up the col it appeared the snow hadn't gone through a thaw/freeze cycle yet so we were sinking to our knees in thick powder. The snowpack felt stable and there was no wind slab, so we kept at it. The 'vertical snow wall' at the top of the col was extremely intimidating and included a bonus 5' tall drift in the middle of it. I have two pictures of the wall, one from the bottom and one from the top of my climbing partner heading down so you can get a sense of the scale. He cut the path through the drift when I was about ready to call it, so credit goes to him for our simmit! Once above the snow wall, we took the path of least resistance to the summit, trying to stick to trees and rocks as best as possible and avoid open snow fields. There was what appeared to be some 2-3" wind slab in a few spots that sketched us out, but it wasn't reactive and seemed bonded to the snow below. I'm no avy expert though. The clouds had been blowing across the summit all morning so it was the inside of a ping pong ball when we got up there, but there were a few cloud breaks at least to give us a bit of a view of the north peak and across to Merchant. After a brief break we headed down and met a few other groups on their way up, 8-9 other people in total.

The snow was pretty consistent on the way back to the snow wall, but by the time we were heading down the wall the snow on it was getting really sticky and clumpy. Time to GTFO! Although the col is shaded from direct sun for the most part, the upper layer was starting to get sticky from generalized temperature increase and we were knocking small rollers down. There was no propagation though and they weren't picking up any further snow. Apparently one of the groups behind us glissaded down, but that seemed like an unnecessary risk to me so we plunge stepped the whole way. Got across the basin with no issues and back to the ridge down! Incredibly intense and rewarding day, hopefully won't be doing it again for quite a while. The bootpack should serve well for a bit, but with the loose wet avy danger, I would highly suggest avoiding Baring for now since it's extremely difficult to get out there before the snow gets soft.

Rough timeline below, honestly we should have set a turnaround time of 12:00 but got lucky this time.

7:00am - Start

8:30am - Top of ridge

9:30am - Start of basin

10:00am - Bottom of col

11:30am - Top of col

1:00pm - Summit

5:00pm - Cars