Big Bad (Mount) Baker

Where: North Cascades, Washington
When: July 2004
Partners: Eiji Sugi
Route: Coleman-Upper Deming
Topo: Mount Baker

Heading up the Coleman Glacier

One day in July 2004, Eiji and I hiked the beautiful approach to the Coleman-Upper Deming route on Mount Baker. Eventually gaining snow, we roped up and made the short haul to camp at the base of the black cliffs below the peak.

During the night, a thunderstorm rolled in with high winds, flashes of lightning and low visibility. Still, come early morning, we woke and started up.

Soon gaining the upper mountain with several other parties nearby, word spread that the bergschrund just above was impassable. With low visibility, parties spread out to try to find a way through.

Eventually, a party in front of us found a narrow snowbridge across the bergschrund. Following them across, we continued up. A party just below us broke through the snowbridge, closing the others off from the upper mountain.

As we'd done on the lower mountain, we continued to place wands as we gained the summit plateau to make the slog across to the summit. Soon gaining the dirt mound of the highpoint, we turned around in very high winds only to find that our wands had been blown over, buried and/or otherwise lost. After a slight bit of panic, we headed down at an appropriate bearing, somehow found a way past the troublesome bergschrund, and were delighted to see parties below us on the descent!

Breaking below the cloud level near the Baker-Colfax saddle, the rest of the day was "all downhill."
On the summit

Photos courtesy of Eiji Sugi