Located in the North Cascades, Mount Baker, aka Komo Kulshan-The White Watcher’s fame stems from its accessible, enormous glaciers that climbers gravitate to learn on and challenge themselves whether on the gentle Easton Glacier to the knife edge North ridge. Approaching via the Schrieber’s Meadow, climbers have ample opportunity to practice their glacier mountaineering skills from the comfort of the 6,000′ base camp. From here climbers take in the views of the Twin Sisters Range, Mount Rainier, Mt. Shuksan, and the crest of the North Cascades. The mountain’s abundant alpine terrain make Baker an ideal location to learn snow and glacier travel skills and conditioning in preparation for other Rainier, Denali, Aconcagua, and other high altitude peaks. On this climb we cover: Selection and use of personal equipment, ropes, knots & harnesses Crampon use & snow climbing techniques, ice axe positioning, and self arrest techniques Roped glacier travel, rope team management, route finding, and crevasse navigation Hazard assessment including a discussion of objective vs. subjective hazards Camp construction, camp management, and cold weather camping skills. Discussions will include proper clothing and climbing gear for survival in the high mountains, mountain weather, alpine ecology, and Leave No Trace ethics. Included: Guide, group climbing gear, helmet, harness, carabiners, tent, breakfast & dinner Not Included: Transportation, crampons*, ice axe*, boots*, lunch/trail snacks, gratuities for guides and personal camping equipment. Day 1: Drive from Seattle to the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead (3,700 feet) on the North side of Mt. Baker. Approximate driving time is 3 hours. The approach to base camp at 6,000 feet takes 3 to 4 hours or, if a higher camp is chosen, an extra 2 hours is needed to rope up and climb onto the Coleman Glacier to a good spot at 7,200 feet. The well graded approach trails takes us through mature cedar and hemlock forests, high alpine meadows, and snow covered areas en route to our high camp. Often teams will scout the line on the initial section of the Coleman Glacier before dark. Day 2: The day begins with an alpine start – usually between 1 and 2 a.m. Our route travels up the right-center of the Coleman Glacier, weaving around large crevasses to the toe of the North Ridge. The standard start crosses a double bergshrund and then goes up a broad gulley feature of 40 degree snow. Straightforward glacier travel on the central ridge section steepens into ice slopes that lead up to the base of the prominent ice cliff spanning the bulk of the north face. As the angles steepen we’ll start belaying and then climb, in a classic and exposed position, directly up the ice cliff in a few short pitches (60-80 degrees). Depending on conditions and the pace of the group, it takes from 9 to 12 hours to reach the top. We descend via the Coleman-Deming route which takes us down the Roman Wall to the west and to the saddle between the Black Buttes and Baker’s summit. A descending traverse of the Coleman Glacier quickly takes us back to the lower mountain and on to base camp where we can relax and enjoy the evening alpenglow. Day 3: Break down camp and descend to the trailhead. Alternatively, and for those wanting to sample more of the great alpine ice climbing on the Baker’s north side, we could do a few hours of climbing on the lower Coleman Glacier to round out a full trip.
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