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| | |-+  Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
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Author Topic: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24  (Read 4230 times)

Posts: 926

Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« on: 05/25/09, 09:45 AM »

Brad and I drove up late on Friday night and camped in my car at the end of FS Road 13.  We woke up late and watched as a few mountaineers headed past us and stirred us from our slumber with the usual discussions about beer...or maybe that's what we just hoped they were talking about.  After loading up and being told to move my car so that more sno-mo trailers could try their luck in getting stuck in the snow that lay just beyond us, we ditched the world of motors and began hiking up the trail to the Squak Glacier.  We arrived at what we figured would be a suitable base camp in a sheltered area around 5800' or so.  After setting up camp and hiking up to a small knoll, we dropped for some evening turns.  There are still great possibilities for slide activity, as we saw the remnants of a sno-mo triggered avy with about a 2.5' crown.  The skiers who witnessed the event said the sno-mo didn't even realize he triggered it.

From basecamp...

We decided to give ourselves an early start, and set the alarm for 4:30.  We were up at 5 am and on the trail before 6.  It's pretty incredible when you go to bed around 9:30 and it's still light, and then wake up at 4:30, and it's light again.  We had ourselves a great sleep being in Brad's MOSS tent!  That thing is incredible...I was even able to do my laundry in the built in washer and dryer that is completely powered by snow!

Sunset over Shuksan...

Having been on the CD route and the Easton, it was definitely obvious how much more direct the route up the Squak was.  It was more broken up in areas (easily avoidable) but it gave the route some neat features.  We weren't the only ones on the Squak, but we were definitely the only ones taking our time on the way up.  The snow was very firm and was taking a while to soften.  Our goal was to have good snow on the upper mountain, mainly the Roman Wall, so we took our time snacking and boiling water as we ascended.  This obviously left us with lots of energy and time to acclimatize well, so as we pushed our way up, we became more and more excited to ski this steeper and more consistent fall line.


After carrying our glacier gear up to the crater, we dropped it and took a few pics, loaded up the skis and prepared to blast up the wall.  Fueled by excitement and a good night's sleep in Brad's MOSS tent, we flew up the Roman Wall and summited around 1:30.  Wasting no time as our ascent proved the wall was softening nicely, we donned our skis and packs and set off.  We actually have no idea what time it was, but we're guessing we hit the Roman Wall around 2:00.  From there on, with a few stops for pics and to grab our cached gear, we dropped from the summit back to our base camp in almost one big continuous sweep, laying out huge turns as we carved through the most perfect buttery corn goodness we could have asked for.


Brad laying it out on the Roman Wall...

Past the ice fall...

We reached our base and quickly ate and tore down and packed up ready to go.  Often the case (at least on other routes and volcanoes) if you wait for the good corn up top, it's a gloppy mess down low.  We strapped up and prepared for the knee-buckling horror turns we were about to endure to return to the car.  Instead, we found the creek drainage through the trees with great snow the entire way down!  Upon arriving at Shrieber's Meadow we had one last obstacle - a stream crossing.  However, because Brad supports MOSS tents, he was able to quickly eye a perfect bridge for us to cross over.  We made it back to the car by 6pm.  Definitely a great trip! 

Skiing out...

I would recommend the Squak to anyone considering a standard ski descent of Baker.  Direct line up, steeper and consistent fall line down.  Navigating was a breeze, however, upon the descent it was very apparent that there were some sagging snow bridges and areas that might pose a bit more of a hazard with a few more days of intense warming.

Edited for spelling errors.
« Last Edit: 05/25/09, 11:53 AM by Stugie » Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev

Posts: 121

Re: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« Reply #1 on: 05/25/09, 02:23 PM »

This trip was my first summit ascent of Baker, and from what I can tell the Squak is the best route for a direct climb and the ability to link 30 degree plus slopes on the descent (to 6,000 feet). As Scott details in his TR we timed our climb to achieve the best ski conditions on the upper mountain, and it was perfect! We ripped the Roman Wall and the Squak from the summit to 6,000 feet in about a half hour laughing the whole way as we harvested sweet corn turns.

What a visually stunning approach with the N. Cascades, Sherman Peak, Colfax, the broken ice falls of the Demming, and the crevasses and ice falls of the Squak.

Some pics (sorry for those that are overexposed):

On a down-note: After climbing St. Helens last weekend and the south side of Baker this weekend I'm fully dissapointed that snowmobilers are allowed on the volcanoes. Noise pollution is grotesque in such majestic environments; inhaling burn-out fumes is not a pleasant way to start the morning/hike; pristine snow slopes are quickly degraded; I witnessed several risky high-marks resulting in wet-slides (a photo of the slide in my pics shows only 20 percent of the slide Stugie discussed); one rider came all the way to the crater rim on Baker!   
« Last Edit: 06/15/09, 10:57 AM by Moscawulff » Logged

Posts: 16

Re: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« Reply #2 on: 05/25/09, 03:21 PM »

Nice to meet you guys up there--I was in the party of 4 skiers camped nearby.  Glad you had good conditions for the descent.  We skiied the RW a bit early--your pic makes it look way more fun than the scratchy carefulness we descended--but we were concerned the Squak was going to oversoften.  We too had an absolute blast ripping the Squak.  Glad to imagine another couple sets of sweet ski tracks to balance out all of that highmarking mess.  It actually seemed that the 'biler who triggered the wet slab slide was deliberately poaching the slope in front of us--we were clearly standing on the ridge above--perhaps we should thank him?  And ski out conditions a pleasant surprise in the forest for sure!


Posts: 57

Re: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« Reply #3 on: 05/25/09, 08:12 PM »

Here's a shot of the snowmobile triggered slide just after it happened.  We were standing on the ridge about 15-20 feet of the fracture line.  Pretty good spot for a slide - wind loaded, east facing, late afternoon... it was a good reminder of what can happen even in spring conditions.  I am glad the biler got out of the way, since he didn't notice it at first.    The slide was in the upper left of the photo with the megamids on crag view ridge.  Nice chatting with you guys, I was in the party with mtj.  I'll second - we had a blast skiing the squak!

* IMG_2110.jpg (40.37 KB, 640x480 - viewed 954 times.)

* IMG_2124_2.jpg (56.77 KB, 640x480 - viewed 944 times.)
Don Heath

Posts: 834

Re: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« Reply #4 on: 05/25/09, 09:59 PM »

Brad's MOSS tent

Wait a minute - Brad has a Moss tent?  I don't think he ever mentioned that to me!
Great pictures, especially of the Mossillac, or the Mosscedes Benz, or the BMossW.

I see Brad was pretty well covered up head to toe - It's a shame that he has such delicate skin.  Maybe he should stick to something like spelunking.   Grin

Glad you guys had such a great time - very exciting! Thanks for the entertaining TR. 
« Last Edit: 05/25/09, 10:05 PM by Rusty Knees » Logged

The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.

Posts: 926

Re: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« Reply #5 on: 05/25/09, 10:31 PM »

mtj and BigRed, nice meeting you guys!  What a trip, and great pics!  We had such great views from tent-side and a perfect night on a volcano!  Glad you guys had a great trip -- you were right about the Squak oversoftening.  Coming over the rollovers near the ice fall we found a few areas that looked to be sagging a bit TOO much...  Such a perfect weekend!  The bootpacker en route (Andres from Portland) looked like he was starting to posthole deep by the time he was nearing 5500'.

Rusty Knees, that was my first time in a Moss-calade.  I now see why all the professional athletes want them.  Wink

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Snow Bell

Posts: 532

Re: Squak Glacier - Mt. Baker - 5/23-24
« Reply #6 on: 05/27/09, 10:30 AM »

MOSSom trip guys!  Way to take advantage of the weather.  Aside from some moderate stability concerns, thing were pretty much ideal in the Cascade high country this weekend.  Thanks for sharing the TR.  Perhaps you can show me around up there.  (I'll step up my game so that I can roll with ya'll.)

Life is going to slide by you one way or another
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