Tag Archives: Mt. Baker

Heliotrope Ridge, Mt. Baker

Heliotrope Ridge, Mt. Baker

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

The storm last Tuesday left a lot of trees and other debris across the road, though the trees have been cut up now and most of it is passible in a higher clearance vehicle. The snow starts at about mile 6 and parts of the road are vary icy. Another good snow storm and the road up the the trailhead should be out for driving this season.

The good news is, you can start splitting from the trailhead. The bad news is, that only lasts for a quarter mile. The snow on the trail gets patchy so we threw the boards on our backs and hoofed it up the the second creek crossing were we could resume the split.

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The snow is punchy down in the trees down low with big windblown spans of ice as you move up onto Hogsback ridge, making ski crampons useful. From the top of Hogsback we trended right and then took a straight shot up to Heliotrope ridge, topping off around 7200 ft.

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The good turns are the top 1000 ft or so where the mountain is north facing and more protected. Not enough snow to make us feel comfortable skiing straight down to the creek so we followed out skin track back down the hill getting back to the car about 3:30 pm, about 5 hrs after we started.

Lots of good snow for mining up above 6000ft, with more on the way. The good turns have finally come around.

2015 Mt. Baker Backcountry Opener

2015 Mt. Baker Backcountry Opener

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Someone definitely got the memo that Mt. Baker on Sunday was getting POW. We arrived around 9am to an already halfway-full upper lot. It was filled with 200+ backcountry enthusiasts eager to ride some powder. After last season being such a wash in the Northwest, stoke levels were very high.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the snow conditions highly favorable. There was great coverage starting well below the upper lot. By the time we got to eying up our first drop near chair 1, we were happy to find the snow depth was easily waist deep. One needed to find steeper lines on Sunday because it was deep and heavy! The snow was pretty typical of the Pacific Northwest, a classic Baker storm. Keeping to steeper faces was key for the day, if not you’d often find people digging themselves out from burying their tips. TIPS UP!

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After a lap near chair 1 we headed out near Artist Point. Here the sun was starting to break through and produce some amazing light. Even with the breaks in light, dropping in just below Table Mountain the light was still very flat once you got dropped below the ridge line. Flat light and heavy snow were some of my biggest concerns for the day. Some small sluff slides had been set off in the area by others, but nothing too alarming. We will have to see what the future storms bring over the next couple weeks. Layers of rain could be a concern as we move into late November. Lets hope this great dump of snow stays around for a bit!

Easton Glacier, Mt. Baker

Easton Glacier, Mt. Baker

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

June 21-22, 2014

 After getting off-route 2 weeks prior, fellow peakers Andrew, David, Whitney and I gave the Easton Glacier another shot on a beautiful June weekend this summer. Choosing a two-day itinerary, we left seattle around 9 am on June 21. We arrived to an overflowing parking lot and found a spot on the side of the road.  After stashing our beers in some snow and deliberating over whether to bring approach shoes we got moving by noon (no approach shoes). Folflowing the trail up to Sulfur Creek it became clear shoes would have been worth the weight.

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After jumping across boulder fields and a couple hopeful transitions along the creek, we finally found continuous snow in the gully below the Railroad Grade. The gully looked easy and the railroad looked dry, so we wound our way up the next 1600 feet. An hour later we crossed our first crack and started traversing west to find a camp on the shoulder. Heading straight up (due north) the rolling ridge we cruised past camp sandy and found a shelf with ridiculous views down onto the toe of the Deming glacier and the east side of Colfax. We melted water, ate some macaroni, drank some whiskey, and set the rope up for the morning.

 We woke just in time for the sunrise and started spiking up the short headwall above our camp by 5:30. The route was straight-forward, we followed the obvious bootpack up and were able to skin the first 2,000 feet (following the immediate headwall out of camp). In hindsight, we may have left too early and ran into several short, steep sections that required spikes with the hard snow. The crater rim offered a nice lunch spot and sulphur bath before we booted up the Roman Wall.

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The view and weather from the summit were all time. We could see down to Mexico and you couldn’t have flown a kite if you had one. I think we even took layers off at the summit. The Watson traverse looked especially appealing from this angle, so we put it on our list for next year.

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After lounging for an hour waiting for the snow to soften we finally clicked/strapped in around 10:00 am. The Roman Wall was a little firm but below that the skiing was 5-star, A-plus spring corn. We arrived to camp about 20 minutes after leaving the summit and the snow was already rotting below 7,000 feet. About 2 hours of heavy-pack, heavy-snow, boulder-hopping and trail walking we were back at the car drinking a beer.

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