Mt. Baker (North Ridge) Trip 1 - '87

My Photos of Mt. Baker climb (North Ridge route)

   During the Fall of 1976, while attending Western Washington University (WWU), I got away from my studies one weekend, and came upon a view of Mt. Baker from the North that intrigued me greatly. About 11 years later, I returned with 3 other people with ideas of climbing Mt. Baker via that route. For a good route description of Mt. Baker's North Ridge, see Reference 1. 

   It was the weekend of July 25/26, 1987.  Erich, Rob, John  and I set out to climb Mt. Baker (10,778' elevation) via the North Ridge. As recorded in Wayne's Journal, we met at the North Gate Park & Ride in N. Seattle at 9:00 am.  We stopped in Marysville and had breakfast. We drove to Bellingham, and then took the scenic Mt. Baker Highway. The Mt. Bakery was still along the highway at this time; I previously had purchased a Mt. Bakery Washington T-shirt there [more about this later]. The Ranger we talked to at the Ranger Station wasn't very optimistic about the weather forecast for this weekend--20% chance of rain. Sunday was supposed to be sunny in the afternoon; with low clouds in the morning. We were on the trail hiking at 2:30 pm. It took us an hour to get to where the Kulshan Cabin used to be. It was cloudy on the way up. It took another hour to get to the glacier. The visibility was poor so we decided to set up camp on the rocks adjacent to the glacier. At about 8:00 pm we got a good view of Mt. Baker and our objective - The North Ridge. We were in the tent at 9:00 pm.

   On Sunday morning we got up at 3:00 am. We had breakfast, and left camp at 4:45 am. We soon roped up. John and I were on one rope. Erich and Rob were on the other rope. We traversed across the Coleman Glacier at the upper end of it, and reached the base of the "short-cut route" to the North Ridge at 7:00 am. John did a great job leading the way along this steep section; we reached the top of this section at 8:45 am. We found a good place to take a half hour break.

   We continued on and started to traverse below the ice cliff.  We found it to be very icy. Although we were able to put in two pickets along this section, the ice was better suited for ice screws. I made a note in my journal that someone accidentally dropped an overmit, and it landed at his feet, and we then watched it slide down the icey slope for several hundred feet. I was glad that we had stopped to put in some protection at this point, because a slip could have been big trouble. The ice cliff was ominus because water was dripping down like a shower. We investigated a small rocky area to see if it might provide a passage, but the rock was rotten, and it did not seem to be a good way to go. Because of the difficult conditions, we decided to not continue up on this day. At 2:00 pm we started to descend the steep "short-cut section". We reached our camp at 4:30 pm. We picked up camp and were heading out at 6:00 pm. We reached the trailhead at 7:30 pm.

   This weekend was meaningful for us in that it proved to be a good reconnaissance trip. And it increased our appetite to return...


1. Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Jim Nelson & Peter Potterfield

Note: Trip 2 of this set of slides can be found at Sitemap->States(US)->Washington->Mt. Baker (North Ridge) Trip 2 - '88.

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