Mount Baker Overview
I have been glacier climbing and through glacier skills school before and I still learned a lot of new things. Our guides had skills for teaching and making learning engaging. Really impressive.
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.
–Mount Baker Climber
The quintessential Northwest glacier, Mt. Baker (along with its kindred peak, Mt. Rainier), provides a fantastic climbing experience for both the novice and developed mountaineer. Unlike the stand-alone Rainier, Mt. Baker is a challenging climb in the heart of the Cascades range offering tremendous views of endless snow-capped peaks. Mt. Baker is the perfect introduction to mountaineering, often considered the best glacier training in the US. A true wilderness outing, climbers carry their full kit of gear to High 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 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 of the North Cascades, is a heavily glaciated dormant volcano. 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 its easy accessibility (requires 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 two or three of our experienced guides in what will be an unforgettable adventure.
Tents Equipment & Meals
Provided: Transportation. 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 Mountaineering Store 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.
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.
Mount Baker Frequently Asked Questions
Please note we will mail specific information to you about your climb upon registration. The following Frequently Asked Questions are meant to serve as helpful guidelines.
The best way to reserve space on a climb is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX. Our climbs fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the climb dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order, or credit card number.
Summit climbs: Mt. Baker has a mandatory gear check the day before at 6:00 p.m.
Finishes: Between 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on the last day of the course.
Location: Alpine Ascents Office. 109 West Mercer Street, Seattle.
Please note: Our recommended hotel, The MarQueen Hotel is located two blocks from our office.
It is mandatory that participants be in excellent physical condition for this climb. The weight of your pack is generally 50-60 lbs. We invite you to check out our Mount Baker Training page. We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those climbers who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.
This climb is open to any physically fit enthusiastic novice or beginner. Though we provide one day of training during the climb, we recommend participants have prior experience with backpacking and camping. This trip entails an extremely rigorous three days of climbing, and excellent physical condition is mandatory. Please note the guide retains the right, at any point, to determine whether a climber is sufficiently fit to continue the climb.
A mandatory gear check will take place the day before your climb at 6:00 p.m. You are required to attend this meeting so we can do a thorough gear check, provide packing suggestions, review the route we will be taking, discuss Leave No Trace practices, and answer any questions you may have regarding the climb.
Location: Alpine Ascents office @ 109 West Mercer St., Seattle, WA
What to bring: Please bring your pack fully loaded with all gear listed on the Gear List. Climbers can pick up rental Gear at the gear check.
Arrive in time to attend the gear check (preferably the night before the gear check in case of travel delays) and plan to depart at least one day after your climb ends. There are variables, such as the weather, that make it difficult to guarantee the exact time each climb will end. You will need to be ready to go at 7:00 a.m. on the morning your climb begins.
Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623-2157 email@example.com. They are very familiar with our international and domestic programs and offer competitive prices on all domestic and international flights.
From Sea-Tac International Airport to the Marqueen Hotel, or any hotel in downtown Seattle:
Shuttle Express: Airport to MarQueen Hotel or downtown Seattle and return.
Cost: $21.00 (one way depending on number of riders)
The Shuttle Express also has regular service to downtown Seattle and can be easily found via Sea-Tac courtesy phones.
You can also take Link light rail from the airport to downtown and then take a taxi. Westlake Station is closest to our office and the MarQueen.
Street parking is limited to two-hour meters. There are numerous pay lots located adjacent to and across from our offices. Please be advised, overnight parking may be difficult to secure during the summer season. Please note: Free long-term parking is generally difficult in the vicinity of Alpine Ascents. If you plan to stay in Seattle and have a car, try to arrange a taxi or ride to our offices on the morning of the climb. You may store extra gear in our offices until your return from the climb. Please give us a call if you have any problems.
- From Interstate 5, take the Mercer Street exit and follow the signs to Seattle Center/Space Needle.
- We are located at 109 West Mercer Street, directly across the street from Bank of America and Next Door to Ozzie’s Tavern.
- Street parking is limited to two-hour parking meters, though there are several pay lots near our offices.
There are several lodging options for our climbs. We meet at our office on the day of the climb at 7:00 a.m. Alpine Ascents has partnered with our neighbors, the MarQueen Hotel, located two blocks from our office. Reservations for your room should be made as soon as possible.
Rates: Reasonable by Seattle standards, however they vary by season.
If you wish to share a room with another climb participant, the MarQueen can help with those arrangements. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your climb and for the last night of your climb. The hotels are two blocks from the Alpine Ascents office. You may store extra gear at the Mediterranean or at our office until your return.
Staying elsewhere in downtown Seattle is another option. During the climbing season, hotels in the Seattle metropolis are difficult to reserve and are a bit more expensive. You may elect to stay in any one of the numerous hotels in the area, but you will be responsible for getting to our offices by 7:00 a.m. the morning of your climb. We are a short taxi cab ride away from most of the downtown hotels and local equipment shops. After the climb, we will return to our offices and you can return to your hotel by taxi at that point. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your climb and for the last night of your climb. Please note: Free long-term parking is generally difficult in the vicinity of Alpine Ascents. If you plan to stay in Seattle and have a car, try to arrange a taxi or ride to our offices on the morning of the climb. You may store extra gear in our office until your return.
Alpine Ascents provides breakfast and dinners (as well as stoves and tents) on the climb. Please bring a cup, bowl, and spoon. You are required to bring your own lunches (Please review the Sample Menu Plan in your confirmation package). If you have any food allergies or requirements, please let us know in advance. There is a place on the application to do this. If you have a particular favorite snack/lunch food or beverage mix, please feel free to bring it along. We advise climbers to purchase most bulk foods before we meet. If you are staying in Seattle, there are numerous supermarkets as well as the flagship REI, North Face, and Patagonia gear shops for fresh and prepackaged foods.
The weight of your pack will generally be 45-50 lbs.
The ratio is 3:1 on our Mount Baker 3 Day climb.
When you sign up for a climb, we will send you a confirmation package that includes a Gear List detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list, so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us (206-378-1927). You can also email us at: Gear@AlpineAscents.com We have a full-time gear expert on staff.
You will pick up your rental gear at our offices during the gear check.
The mountains of the Northwest and north coast are heavily glaciated temperate mountains. This means they are subject to highly variable weather conditions.
- Pack everything in two layers of sturdy plastic. (trash compactor bags work the best) Bring one large trash bag to completely and easily cover your pack. You should bring at least three bags.
- It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack.
You will get far more out of your climb by reading “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th ed.,” by The Mountaineers. This book provides an excellent overview of the elements involved in alpine mountaineering. Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 6 review many of the aspects we will be covering during your training, and familiarity with these aspects will greatly enhance your experience.
We run our own retail climbing shop and online Gear Shop, where all Alpine Ascents climbers receive a discount and can receive personalized advice from our gear experts.
At Alpine Ascnets, we clean and check our rental boots, packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items on a daily basis. Gear is sized at the gear check, and changes can be made at that time. All of our gear is of the highest quality. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.
Yes. See the training tips above. But keeping in mind that you are climbing a mountain and it is not easy, if you follow our physical fitness tips and do some training on your own, you should complete the climb with no problems.
For climbers who need to be escorted from the climb, there is an evacuation fee.
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.
I was very pleased – there was excellent documentation and guidance prior to the climb. The fitness goals were very helpful and definitely helped us ready for the demands of the climb. The trip was excellent. As good if not even better than any other climbing related program I’ve participated in.