Mt. Baker June 4 2004 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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Default Mt. Baker June 4 2004

Participants: Anton, EugeneK.
Total elevation gain: 2158m.
Round trip: approx. 20km.
Total trail time: approx. 13.5hrs

Photos: will be added later.

This trip has been on our minds for some time. Last Friday the opportunity presented itself in the form of good weather and optimal (in our opinion) combination of seasonal factors - already diminished avalanche danger and not yet developed crevasses.
We started on Thursday from Vancouver and reached the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead at about 8PM. At 8:15 we began the first part of the hike through the forest. While patches of snow appeared there almost immediately, the trail was mostly snow-free. The bridge-less crossing of one of the creeks (Kulshan?) could be a little challenging, especially with full packs. By 9:15PM the light started to recede rapidly, and we set up the camp just at the end of the forest - next few hundred metres up would have brought us to the continuous, open snowfields.
The hiker registry at the trailhead listed the snow conditions as 'poor, no overnight freeze'. So we decided to start out next day relatively late, and did so at 5:45AM. The initial ascent to the Hogsback was not too difficult, with minor post-holing (we did not have snowshoes). Then we met a group of five AT skiers on the way to summit. The area below the Black Buttes was a little more difficult, with frequent post-holing up to the knee level. There is a large avalanche field to cross, with car-sized chunks of ice and snow. There is no open crevasse at the top of the glacier, however, at lower levels it starts cracking up (as the other glaciers visible from the top later). We tried roping up, but quickly gave up as the progress became too slow, and the need for that was minimal.
The final ascend up (Roman Wall) was unexpectedly slow, and high altitude effects started to show. The snow conditions coming up were good, it did freeze overnight. At approximately noon we reached the summit plateau, and about 15 minutes later - the Grant Peak, the true summit. Elevation by my GPS: 3282m (the edge of the plateau reached by Roman Wall is just a few metres lower). From the peak we could see the smouldering crater, and the smell of sulphur was quite strong. The views from the summit are beyond any attempt to describe. Ferocious wind blew across the plateau, and it felt pretty cold despite the sunshine. So a short while later we turned around. Coming down the Roman Wall wasn't a lot easier or faster then up; the snow has softened, and the pitch required very careful walking. Once down to the more moderate pitch, we were able to boot-ski, and our speed increased. The snow has become very slushy everywhere. We have seen a lot of people coming up and setting up camps.
We were back at the camp at around 5:15PM. Surprisingly, hike back to the car took us even longer then coming up.
Recommendation: In addition to the regular glacier travel equipment, small, lightweight snowshoes could be very helpful on the gentle slopes.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2002
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Thanks for the report. What was the temperature like up there? I'm doing it next weekend. Can't wait to see your pics!

The Mountains are calling and I must go. ~John Muir
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 11:45 AM
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Congratulations. Good trip report and I'll look forward to seeing some photos.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 11:51 AM
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Congrats! You guys picked the best time of the year to do it!

"Function is beauty"
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 11:59 AM
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Good show gentlemen!

"The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak"

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 01:03 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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Nice done! That's quite the elevation gain, especially in soft or slushy snow. Way to go guys. We're all anxious to see the pictures.

Hey, did Anton bring a big jar of sweets this time?
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 01:21 PM
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Great report, and as HB mentioned, that's the perfect time to go up there! Can't wait to see the pics...[8D]

"The Arctic views its distant vast and the shifting breeze that blows my horizon,
Where stormclouds mass along the skies, Dark and brooding across the blistered broken land"
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 03:11 PM
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Here is the photo coverage from my digital camera, will add the film shots later.

Apart from the expected excitement from the views, vast snow fields and massive avalanche runoffs I experienced two new to me feelings during the trip:

First, is a sort of ‘dizziness' or as I described it to myself “inadequate point view”. Not sure whether it was because of the over exhaustion or altitude induces feeling or may be both. It was very weird feeling and rotten smell of gases on the top plateau made it even worse.

Second, was a feeling of being almost trapped by the changed snow conditions on the way back. It was still very far from an emergency case but it was easier than ever to picture the one. We had to cover roughly 3-4 km walking on the mushy snow where every step went knee deep and that's after almost all energy have been dumped during the ascent.

Spidergirl, the temp during ascent (7-12am) was about 9-13C, on the top it was 4.5C. Didn't check the thermometer on the way down.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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I envy you guys, I don't know if I could do such a thing. If my knees get better I would like to take some courses at CWMS or Yamnuska and learn some mountaneering skills. I love the pics Anton.

The first revolution is when you change your mind, about how you look at things, and see that there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 05:43 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Sounds like an exhausting trip! Interesting about the vent crater and sulphur smell. Often from the valley one can see a steam plume drifting off of the summit. Inspiring trip, guys. Congrats.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 10:25 AM
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Wow! What an excellent trip you had. I'm very envious... wishing I could have been there too. Definitely on my list for a future adventure with fellow CT'ers.

Go after what you want but never overlook what you already have.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 10:41 AM
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Looks FANTASTIC up there.... nice job !! [8D]

^^ Go Vertical !! ^^
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 11:19 AM
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Hey Anton, when are you going to get skis?

Love the views, thanks for the picutres. I'll bet they barely begin to do the area justice (nothing like being there to experience it firsthand.) You both are quite the dynamic duo! Way to Go
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 12:17 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Nice pics Anton and congrats on the summit! The last time I did Baker, The Roman Wall had avalanched, so the route traversed 2/3 the way around the peak and joined up with the Easton Glacier route, talk about a bottleneck! It added an hour to the climb and there had to be 30-40 people on the summit at any one time. Haven't been back since. Your pics and post are making me rethink this though, but maybe a weekday trip would be quieter.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 12:28 PM
Headed for the Mountains
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40! people [:0] good thing the summit is big enough to accommodate such groups
Given the weather and time of the season we expected to climb as part of a crowd but those 5 skiers were the only company we had. On the way down we saw quite a few groups heading up to camp and start the climb on Sat. Weekdays is definitely a way to avoid the traffic on the trail.
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