Mount Baker North Ridge Climb Itinerary
I learned a lot about ice climbing technique and felt that I really progressed on our practice day. It definitely paid off on summit day! The entire experience was so enjoyable. —2020 Climber
We meet at our Seattle office for a 6:30 a.m. orientation and gear check. A big part of developing the necessary skills starts with having the proper equipment and food to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the wilderness. The guides will discuss each piece of equipment and ensure that everything is in good condition and is a proper fit. Finally, the guides will evaluate conditions, discuss weather with the group, and make last-minute adjustments before departing Seattle. This is an invaluable part of the course and will often help eliminate many of the questions students have in regards to both equipment and the flow of the course.
From the office, we will carpool to the North Side of Mount Baker and park at the Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead. This is a well graded trail that provides quick access to a spectacular alpine wonderland. We’ll hike to a camp in close proximity to the ice climbing near the Coleman Glacier at 5000’. This is a relatively easy move of approximately 2000 vertical feet and requires roughly 2.5-3.5 hours of travel time to reach camp. Often there is plenty of time that evening to practice ice climbing on the vertical seracs of the Coleman Glacier.
This is a half day of ice climbing on the steep ice of the lower Coleman Glacier. Emphasis will be placed on efficient climbing technique on 60 – 70 degree ice walls with the use of two ice tools. Building on the skills from the previous day, climbers will get a chance to belay each other and practice getting lowered down ice climbs, in addition to rappeling a steep ice cliff. All of these skills help translate into success on the North Ridge Climb. After climbing we return to camp and move all of our equipment 1500’ further up the mountain to a camp higher on the Coleman Glacier. This is a short move, but greatly reduces the overall effort of the summit day
The team will get an early start and head across the broken Lower Coleman Glacier towards the base of the imposing North Ridge which rises nearly 4000’ directly to the summit of Mount Baker. Gaining the Ridge poses one of the technical cruxes of the route with ice as steep as 70 degrees. The route stays sustained the whole time and undulates between steep snow with short steps of alpine ice all the way to the summit plateau. It is a short jaunt to the summit from the top out of the North Ridge. The summit of Mount Baker is nothing short of spectacular with views of Mount Shuksan, the rugged Picket Range, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound with the matrix of the San Juan Islands. After soaking in the 360 degree views, the team will descend the moderate Coleman-Deming Glacier Route. This is a basic mountaineering route that allows for a quick descent back to camp in just a few hours.
The team will wake up at a leisurely hour, pack up camp, and hike out back to the trailhead. This day can also be used as an alternative summit day as it is possible to summit and hike all the way out in one day. The weather in the Pacific Northwest can be fickle and having an alternative summit day leads to much higher summit percentages on this coveted alpine ice objective.
Itinerary subject to change due to conditions.
Our guide’s intimate knowledge of the local area also makes him an impressive interpreter of the landscape, which adds to climbers understanding of the area and overall experience. Other climbers in the group mentioned that they appreciate how he involves the group during decision making and his overall thought processes as the group leader, which […]