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Author Topic: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09  (Read 3659 times)
Clarence
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Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« on: 05/22/09, 03:01 PM »

Travis (gorp) and I had been wanting to ski Baker all winter, but matching both of our work schedules to some nice weather has been difficult.  We saw our chance this week and went for it.  We knew that the road to the Heliotrope Ridge trail was closed, but we thought that the Coleman Deming route would provide better skiing than the Easton route, so we sucked it up and brought bikes for the approach.  We began cycling at the road closure near the beginning of the Glacier Creek Road at about 11am and rode up to about mile 7 where the snow is continuous, stashed our bikes in the woods and began skinning, reaching the official trail head at about 3pm.  The snow was continuous all the way up to Heliotrope Ridge.  There were no major creek crossings and only a few short bare patches near the beginning of the trail. 
We ascended Heliotrope Ridge to about 6500' where we made camp.  The weather was typical spring weather,  mostly sunny with intermittent showers, but it began to clear as forecast as we approached our camp near the Coleman Glacier around 7pm.  The snow on Heliotrope Ridge was a couple days old and not fully consolidated yet.  A slight crust was forming and ski penetration was about 3-5".
We awoke at 5am to clear skies and not a breath of wind.  The snow had a firm and supportive crust on which we made great time to the upper Coleman Glacier where we encountered several (3-4) inches of preserved powder.  We switched to crampons and booted up the rime ice that covered the ridge between the Coleman and the Deming, and switched back to skis to ascend the Roman Wall.  Here we encountered difficult and mixed conditions that dramatically slowed us down.  The snow low on the Roman wall was a breakable crust over ~7-8" unconsolidated snow.   As we gained elevation the snow alternated between bands of wind drifted powder and rime.   This was extremely time consuming, since the rime made for excellent walking but very difficult skinning and the powder had the opposite effect.  These bands alternated so frequently we could not make good time on foot or on skis.
By 10:30am we had reached the top of the Roman Wall and were approximately 200-300' below the summit.  Unfortunately both Travis and I had to be at work in Seattle at 5:30pm that same day and we were forced to descend summitless.
The ski down was fantastic!  The Roman Wall was a bit variable as described, but the upper Coleman offered great powder turns and the lower Coleman and Heliotrope Ridge had some excellent proto-corn and a supportive crust.  We made excellent time through the woods and back to the trail head, although the pine needles, rocks and small creeks did a number on the glue of my skins.  The bike down the road was fast, although my suspension-less bike made for a less than pleasant ride.
We rolled into the parking lot at work at about 5:15.  I had just enough time to grab a bite to eat, but the showering had to wait until my break later in the evening--I hope I didn't scare off too many customers with my mountain smell...

Pics:
http://picasaweb.google.com/petey5287/MtBakerColemanDemingSki?feat=directlink
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Robert Connor
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #1 on: 05/22/09, 03:29 PM »

Thanks for the TR.  I am thinking about this for next weekend.  It looks like it is a longer trip than when I have done it before.  It looks like you guys hit the timing perfectly.
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cjski
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #2 on: 05/22/09, 03:32 PM »

Nice work travis.  Mt adams next weekend?

Chris
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CJ
David_Coleman
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #3 on: 05/22/09, 06:34 PM »

Clarence - Can you tell me if there are any crevasse issues either above Heliotrope Ridge (the 1st steep slope of the lower glacier) or higher up on the route?  Looks very filled in with fresh, which would tell me there are some hidden bridges loooooming.
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RafMax
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #4 on: 05/22/09, 06:38 PM »

Try the squak glacier...probably the best of the 3 common baker ski routes. You get to just bomb rollers for about 4k after you get off the roman wall.
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There were pieces of gnar everywhere.....
Don Heath
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #5 on: 05/22/09, 09:28 PM »

Nice trip, you guys!  We did that same route last August, didn't get quite as high, but also on several inches of new powder.  Ahhh Baker!
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
Clarence
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #6 on: 05/22/09, 10:53 PM »

David--I only noticed a few spots with the telltale sag of a hidden crevasse.  I think that the big snows in March and the the cool temps in April and May have kept the bridges solid and only the big crevasses are an issue right now.  By my estimation the route was very safe, however this was my first time on the Coleman Glacier.
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Clarence
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #7 on: 05/22/09, 11:01 PM »

Robert--biking on the road was pure suffering and added about 4 hours to our approach time.  We probably would have skied the Easton if we had realized how much work that would be...  On the other hand, you'd probably have Heliotrope Ridge and the Coleman all to yourself!
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Robert Connor
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #8 on: 05/23/09, 11:58 AM »

Thanks for the heads up.
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mtj
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Re: Mt Baker via Coleman Deming 5/20-21/09
« Reply #9 on: 05/25/09, 07:16 AM »

We did the  Squak over May 23-24, and will second the recommendation from RafMax.  Great moderate skiing from about 9800' to 5800'.  Very direct, very filled in right now. 
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