We scrambled up Coleman Pinnacle summit near Mount Baker in mid August 2015. This report is one year overdue. I decided to post it now for reference purposes.
There was no snow on the Ptarmigan Ridge trail last August, which made it literary an easy walk in the park. I saw a few a people hiking the trail in their sandals and even flip flops. I am not sure about current snow conditions on the trail. Usually there are some patches of snow, which makes gaiters good to have. We did not wear rock helmets, but this would be a good idea too for scrambling Coleman Pinnacle summit.
We enjoyed amazing views of Mount Baker and landscape on the trail.
In two hours we approached Coleman Pinnacle, but we could not see it due to foggy conditions and we continued on the trail turning towards Kaiser camp, where access to the Coleman Pinnacle was barred by steep and exposed sections of the ridge and a Coleman glacier. We spent some time scrambling the ridge and exploring ways to bypass the glacier as we did not have crampons and then turned back to look for the easier access route.
This is where not
to go looking for Coleman Pinnacle, unless you enjoy exposed scrambling and walking on a melting glacier.
Here is Coleman Pinnacle with a glacier barring access to it:
We decided not to gamble on crossing the glacier without crampons and returned to the Ptarmigan Ridge trail and headed back looking for an access path to the Coleman Pinnacle. We soon found the right access route on the side of the forested strip. You can see it on the picture below taken from the Coleman Pinnacle summit.
After 40 minutes of easy scrambling and walking the ridge we approached Coleman Pinnacle:
You can see a lone scrambler on the Coleman Pinnacle. It was a nice surprise to see no traffic on Coleman Pinnacle.
Although Coleman Pinnacle scramble may look a bit sketchy on the picture, it took us only 20 minutes to scramble up to the summit from the sunny side of the Pinnacle, which is less steep and exposed with more solid rock and large ledges and handles.
There is no marked trail to the summit with variety of options to choose from with one simple rule to keep in mind: stay on the dry and sunny side of the Coleman Pinnacle at all times. There is one narrow col in the middle section of the scramble where my husband decided to make a short detour to the shadow side of the Coleman Pinnacle, which appeared easier to him for some reason and instantly regretted it, as it was wet and slippery with loose rock quickly degrading into loose scree. I helped him scramble back to the sunny side where we stayed till we reached the summit.
You should watch to avoid accidentally stepping on the shadow side of the Pinnacle on descent in the middle section, where the correct path is hidden in thick bushes for a couple of meters.
Apart from one minor struggle at the shadow side, the scramble was quick and easy and much fun. We were rewarded with breathtaking views from the summit.
In half an hour we were back on the Ptarmigan ridge trail and in another 1.5 hours we were at the parking lot. It is a great daily hike on a sunny day.