Mt. Baker | One-Day Ski Ascent
While no easy task, a one day ski ascent of Mt. Baker is a highly rewarding ski mountaineering objective for strong backcountry skiers. Moving fast and light with just day packs, we’ll cover up to 8,000′ vertical feet of terrain, up and down, in 10-12 hours.
Route options include the Coleman-Deming, and the Easton Glacier.
Skiing Baker in a day requires a very high level of physical fitness. If you are unsure of your abilities, we recommend our 3-day program.
Meeting time and location will depend on which route we choose to ski, but generally we’ll want to be leaving the trailhead by 5am. Depending on conditions, our ascent will take 7-10 hours at a pace of long-day efficiency. It’s important that we have sufficient energy left on top for the 8000′ foot descent!
Coleman-Deming Route: This route starts on the north side of the mountain. From the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead we’ll either ascend via the normal summer route, or the early season Grouse Creek variation depending on snow coverage. Once we’re on the Coleman Glacier it’s steady angled skinning until we reach the Roman Headwall, where we may opt to use ski or boot crampons.
Easton Glacier Route: This route is on the south side of the mountain. From the trailhead we’ll ascend the lower slopes onto the Railroad Grade, from which we’ll transition onto the Easton Glacier. The terrain on the Easton is moderately angled, and similar in character to the Muir Snowfield on Mt. Rainier, but on a big glacier with big crevasses.
☐ Skis with touring bindings – AT, tele, or splitboard: Your setup needs to be suitable for uphill touring and downhill skiing/riding.
☐ Boots: AT, tele or snowboard boots.
☐ Poles: Adjustable poles with powder baskets (ex: Black Diamond Traverse).
☐ Climbing skins: Fit to skis (ex: Black Diamond Mohair Mix).
☐ Ski crampons: Specific to your setup, these are essential for this program.
☐ Day pack: 25-40 liter internal frame pack with ski attachment system (ex: BCA Stash BC).
AVALANCHE SAFETY GEAR
☐ Transceiver: Modern, single frequency [457 khz] transceiver, preferably less than five years old. A digital 3-antennae model is highly recommended (ex: BCA Tracker 2). RENT
☐ Shovel: Lightweight avalanche shovel. A metal blade and extendable handle are recommended (ex: BCA B1 Extendable Shovel). RENT
☐ Probe: Dedicated probe, ski pole probes are not sufficient. (ex: BCA Stealth 260 Carbon Probe) RENT
☐ Ice axe: Lightweight 50-60cm mountaineering axe recommended (ex: Petzl Snowracer). RENT
☐ Boot crampons: 10 or 12 point mountaineering crampon, aluminum or steel (ex: Petzl Irvis). RENT
☐ Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops (ex: Petzl Adjama). For safety reasons, your harness needs to be less than 10 years old and in good condition. RENT
☐ (1) Locking carabiners: Pear shaped recommended (ex: Petzl Attache or Attache 3D).
☐ (1) Non-locking carabiner: Wire gate recommended (ex: Petzl Ange S or Ange L).
☐ Climbing helmet: Needs to be climbing specific (ex: Petzl Elios or Meteor III +). RENT
There are many possible layering combinations for your upper body. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: Patagonia Capiline 1 or 2).
☐ (2) Insulating layers: Light fleece, softshell or synthetic layer (ex: Patagonia R1 Hoody or Guide Hoody).
☐ Shell jacket with hood: For wind, snow, rain, cold, etc.
☐ Puffy (insulated) jacket: Synthetic or down with a hood (ex: Patagonia Micro Puff).
☐ Baselayer bottoms: Medium weight (ex: Patagonia Capiline 2).
☐ Softshell pant: Light to medium weight (ex: Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants).
☐ Hardshell pant: Should have full side zips.
☐ Socks: 2-3 pairs. Wool or synthetic, they should work well with your ski boots. Keep in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not heavy socks.
☐ Sunglasses: Glacier glasses or dark tinted wrap-arounds, should have full UV protection. Consider bringing an extra pair (ex: Julbo Dolgan).
☐ Goggles: Preferably with low light lenses (amber or rose) and UV protection (ex: Julbo Around Excel or Down).
☐ Warm hat
☐ Sun hat: Baseball cap, visor, etc – Weather dependent.
☐ Face protection: Buff® recommended.
☐ Light glove: For touring.
☐ Ski glove: Warm enough for sub-freezing temperatures.
☐ Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui).
☐ Lip balm: With SPF protection.
☐ Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ Thermos (optional)
☐ Camera: Don’t forget extra batteries.
☐ Watch: Altimeter recommended.
☐ Extra batteries: For your transceiver (usually AAA), headlamp, camera, etc.
☐ Headlamp (ex: Petzl Tikka XP2 or Tikka Plus). RENT
☐ Repair kit: We suggest carrying a small repair kit with items specific to your ski or splitboard equipment. Extra parts, especially for bindings, duct tape, bailing wire, zip ties, etc.
☐ Wax: For skis and to prevent snow from glomming onto your skins.
☐ Whippet: Feel free to bring one if this is something you’re already comfortable skiing with.
- For this trip you should be an advanced skier (comfortable on black diamond resort terrain).
- Some previous backcountry skiing/ski touring is strongly recommended. If you are unsure of your qualifications give us a call at (888) 674-8492 or email us.
- Excellent physical fitness is required for this program.
- You should be able to ascend 3000′ in a day carrying 45+ lbs on your back, and 5000′ in a day carrying 30 lbs on your back.
- Physical conditioning should not be underestimated; the better shape you’re in, the more fun you’ll have.
- Guiding and instruction at a 4:1 ratio
- Group equipment: ropes, technical gear
- Permit and insurance costs
- Lodging and transportation before and after the trip
- Personal equipment and food
Lunch Food: In the mountains, “lunch starts after breakfast and ends before dinner”. In other words, on a given day we generally won’t stop for a formal lunch break, and instead we’ll snack all day long. This is vital to maintaining high energy levels in this environment.
Be sure to bring foods that you like and emphasize variety. Energy bars and gels are great but in limited amounts – real food works just as well and tastes better.
WHERE TO MEET
Depends on which route we choose. We’ll send out an email 1-2 weeks before the trip with final logistics, meeting time/location, etc.
Fly in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Renting a car in Sea-Tac tends to be the easiest option for ground transportation. Let us know if you’re interested in carpooling with other participants on the program and we might be able to help with arrangements.
Mt Vernon or Bellingham are the best places to stay, depending on which route we choose.
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your program. Note that many plans require you purchase insurance within 21 days of your initial deposit.
- Selected Climbs in the Cascades: Volume 1 by Jim Nelson and Peter Potterfield
- Cascade Alpine Guide Volume 3: Rainy Pass to Fraser River by Fred Beckey
- Climbing Washington’s Mountains by Jeff Smoot
- Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering by Martin Volkin, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler
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