Climb Mount Baker With Alpine Ascents
FOR SUMMER 2021, AS PART OF COVID-19 REGULATIONS: Climbers will need to self drive to and from the mountain.
The logistics were especially well-run considering the circumstances with COVID-19. From the gear check to the rental return at the end of the climb, everything was very smooth. Having an entire tent to yourself was really nice! –2020 Climber
I was super impressed with everyone and everything about Alpine Ascents! My guides were excellent, and I felt safe and prepared because of them, even though this was my first expedition, ever. I was impressed and super happy they adjusted our itinerary to the weather conditions, and we had a beautiful day to summit. The whole experience was, overall, most excellent! –2020 Climber
New! While most outfitters require at least a 55lbs pack, Alpine Ascents has camps pre-set up on the mountain, so climbers only have to carry only a 35lbs pack!
The quintessential glaciated Cascades peak, Mt. Baker, known locally as Koma Kulshan or simply Kulshan, provides a fantastic climbing experience for both the novice and developed mountaineer. Unlike the geographically-lonely Rainier, Mt. Baker looks into the heart of the Cascade Range for tremendous views of endless steep, snow-capped peaks. Mt. Baker offers the perfect introduction to mountaineering, and is often considered the best glacier training venue in the US. A true wilderness outing, climbers carry gear to camp, spend a full day training, and summit via the beautiful Easton glacier.
This three-day instructional course/summit climb teaches you the basics of glacier mountaineering, including proper ice axe use and self-arrest skills, glacier travel, and basic rope techniques while aiming to summit. With a 3:1 climber-to-guide ratio, we offer personal and hands-on training with an experienced guide team. Successful completion of this program gives you the required skills for some of our more advanced expeditions.
Maximum team size: nine climbers with three guides.
Mt. Baker, the highest point in the North Cascades, is a heavily glaciated and active but quiet stratovolcano. The 12+ active glaciers of Mt. Baker cover an area exceeding 20 square miles. Mt. Baker is unique with respect to its great mass of snow and ice and easy accessibility (requiring less than one day of hiking). This combination creates a perfect alpine training ground. This climb of the ice-king of the North Cascades via some of the largest and most scenic glaciers in the contiguous US will be conducted by our experienced guides in what will be an unforgettable adventure.
Tents Equipment & Meals
Provided: All group climbing equipment, including climbing ropes and technical hardware; meals (except lunch); and tents.
Not Provided: Personal equipment and lunches. You are responsible for all items on the Gear List.
Note: If you are a beginning climber, we strongly advise renting as much gear as possible. Alpine Ascents and other local retailers provide quality rental equipment at reasonable prices. We also offer a 10% discount at the Alpine Ascents Gear Shop located at our offices. We conduct a mandatory gear check the day before your climb. A confirmation package with all details will be sent upon registration.
Alpine Ascents is clearly the real deal. Even though we did a “beginner” climb on Mount Baker, we were treated with the best guides and equipment, making us feel that this was an attempt on Denali. It motivated us to look toward the next level of expedition. Perfect in every respect. –2020 Climber
|1||Schriebers Meadow – Sandy Camp||2,775 ↑||3.5-5||3.75||35|
|2||Sandy Camp to Mt Baker Summit||4,680 ↑||5-7||3||15|
|Summit to Sandy Camp||4,680 ↓||4-6||3||15|
|3||Sandy Camp to Parking Lot||2,775 ↓||2.5-4||3.75||30|
Well, climb them both of course! But a legendary mountain author weighs in:
BY PETER POTTERFIELD
As the author of “Selected Climbs in the Cascades,” both volumes 1 and 2, I get emails daily from adventurers coming to the Cascades for the first time wanting some insight into the best climbing routes in the range. And who can blame them? When it comes to alpine climbs, the Cascades offer arguably the best routes in the lower 48.
None of the peaks in the Cascade Range is more unique or appealing than the Cascade Volcanoes. Draped in glaciers, studded with fearsome rock spires, and all rising above 10,000 feet, the volcanoes offer a climbing experience unrivaled outside of the Alps, or Alaska, or the Himalaya. There are six of these giants in the Northwest: Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Glacier Peak, and Mount Baker. But for most climbers seeking a world-class route on a big mountain, access, quality and climbing routes mean the choice comes down to just two: Mount Baker or Mount Rainier.
I was faced with that very dilemma when I first moved to the Northwest after a decade of climbing in the Rockies. I was stoked to get up on those big, ice-clad ghostly white mountains floating on the horizon in all directions, but frankly, I lacked the skills. Crevasse rescue, ice climbing, glacier travel, reading avalanche conditions—these were all skills I needed to acquire. But where to do it? On 14,410-ft Mount Rainier, lord of the range, rising above Seattle like a papier-mâché stage prop? Or the more remote and aesthetic 10,781-ft Mount Baker in the far north, monarch of ineffably beautiful North Cascades?
The decision was easy: Baker. This, the third highest peak in the Northwest, wears its heavy mantle of ice with exceptional beauty. Its high altitude and position west of the Cascade Crest—Baker is only 35 miles from tidewater—place it to receive the full blast of wet winter storms, feeding its glaciers. That becomes ever more important as climate change threatens Cascade glaciers farther south. Baker is snow white and pristine in its ice clad beauty.
“Excellent. Climbing Mt. Baker was one of the most amazing experiences of my life” 2017 Climber
For any climber wishing to add ice-climbing and steep snow-climbing skills to their resume, Mount Baker is perfect. It’s got everything Mount Rainier has—glaciers, crevasses, ice falls, steep ice, steep snow, craggy rock spires—and more. Situated within the wild North Cascades, often called the Switzerland of America, Baker comes with pristine wilderness and a sense of solitude that is unique among the Cascade Volcanoes. But what it doesn’t have is perhaps its greatest draw: crowds and permit hassles. Multiple routes, from straightforward glacier climbs such as the Easton or the Coleman, to steep, aesthetic ice climbing routes such as the North Ridge, Baker offers a range of routes, difficulties and glacial terrain free of the crowds found on Mount Hood or Mount Adams or Mount Rainier.
A final consideration: altitude. For those of us who live at sea level, a trip above 14,000 ft comes with tiresome, debilitating effects of altitude, and the real possibility of high-altitude sickness. Now Baker is a big mountain, and at almost 11,000 ft, it is not immune to that danger, but acclimatization is easier and quicker. Altitude problems are far less of an issue on this peak. And the lower High Camps and shorter summit days on its routes make climbing and learning on Mount Baker more fun and less stressful than doing the same program on Mount Rainier. Let’s be clear this is an equal climb technically but perhaps a better intro into glacier climbing and one of the pearls of the mountains every climber should attempt.
It worked for me, that’s why I ended up writing the climbing guide to the Cascades. Within a year of my tutelage on Baker, I climbed all the Cascade Volcanoes: Mount Hood at night under a full moon (never turned the headlamps on) for a dawn summit; remote Glacier Peak via the Rabbit Ears route; and Rainier, for the first of a dozen summits via the Emmons with my friend Scott Fischer. I did Adams the first time via the North Ridge (the “mule route” is just too boring). My time on Baker had me more than ready for all of that, and what was to come in Alaska and the Alps.
And the beauty is, gaining proficiency in big-mountain skills on Mount Baker is immediately transferable. Learn your chops here, where you likely will have more fun, fewer altitude problems, and enjoy a rare pristine setting and a genuine sense of solitude, and you are set up for what’s next: Rainier on a technical route, other Cascades climbs, or even Denali or Aconcagua.
This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.
Mt. Baker was a true wilderness experience. Remote and primitive. I will always remember having dinner the last night with a mountain goat grazing on my left and a rock slide on my right.