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Mount Baker via the Coleman-Deming Route · Sat. May. 28th - Sun. May. 29th

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Organized by: Alex Barth.

Start: Saturday, May. 28th
End: Sunday, May. 29th
Pre-trip meeting: Thursday, May. 26th, 7:00 pm
Pre-trip meeting location: TBD


Image from the Baldwin book

Allow me to introduce you to the greatest spring/early summer activity known to man- volcano skiing! I have spent May and June of the last few years enjoying the magic of skiing perfect corn high on the giants of the Cascade Range in Oregon, and don't intend to change that now that I've moved a bit farther north.

Mount Baker needs no introduction, it is the highest peak easily accessible from Vancouver and an iconic part of the skyline. It also, like most cascade volcanoes, offers an excellent spring ski descent.

The Coleman-Deming route ascends the northwest side of the mountain on massive glaciers, crossing under the Black Buttes before ascending the famous Roman Wall to the summit plateau. The ski descent is pleasant and not awfully technical, topping out in the mid 30s in slope angle. The ascent is about 10 km with 2000 m of elevation gain, with typical ascent times being 6-8 hours. It can be done as a day trip, or by camping at treeline, which cuts 3 km and 300 m of vert from the summit day.

Like all spring ski missions, this trip requires an alpine (pre-dawn) start to get the best ski conditions and avoid the dangers of afternoon warming. If you've never done one before, don't groan at the prospect of waking up so early- one of the best parts of volcano skiing is skinning up under the stars and seeing the best sunrise of your life as the shadow of the mountain covers the landscape!

The plan for this trip would be to drive to the trailhead the evening before, either camp at the trailhead or after ascending to treeline depending on what the group prefers, and then getting the early start to summit and ski back down in the morning, returning to Vancouver in the afternoon. This involves crossing into the US, so you will need to have all the documentation you might need to cross the border and then get back into Canada.

Since this trip crosses large and active glaciers, there will be a very strong preference for people with G1 experience, and everyone will need a harness and other basic glacier kit that will be laid out in more detail via email. This trip is a little more forgiving on the skiing front- as long as you can ski a black diamond run with confidence and reasonable speed you are good to go. That being said, while we are hoping for corn you need to be prepared to ski other classic volcano conditions such as very firm ice, rime, and chicken heads in locations where a fall would be very dangerous. Little to no backcountry experience is required (as long as you are fit and motivated), spring conditions are generally simple for avalanche conditions and favorable for travel. Don't let any of these requirements scare you away- I want this trip to be open to all so I can spread the stoke of my favorite time of year. If you're concerned about something reach out, but remember this is not an instructional trip. The most important element for this trip is fitness- in spring conditions being slow is a safety hazard, as warming throughout the day increases risk of avalanches, rock and ice fall, and weakens snow bridges. You must be familiar with how to use your equipment and confident that you can ascend ~300 m vertical in an hour.

Important Note: There is now a high chance that this trip will be moved one week back (or less likely forward), since just as I was planning on posting this Mason and Linda posted their rock climbing instructional trip that I am now very interested in. I already thought a good deal about when to do this, so I am just going to leave it listed as the weekend I originally planned until I get a better idea of how likely it is that I will go on that trip, and also how the snowpack is doing. So keep in mind that the dates may change, and if you are also interested in the steps to multipitch trip don't worry about the conflict. Since the steps to multipitch trip has been moved, this trip will now go ahead as planned the weekend of May 28/29, weather permittting


Posted: 2022-04-09 15:01:19
Last modified: 2022-05-16 15:15:35