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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  March 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  Windy Baker, March 20, 2010
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Author Topic: Windy Baker, March 20, 2010  (Read 1562 times)

Posts: 122

Windy Baker, March 20, 2010
« on: 03/22/10, 09:29 AM »

I have not read this forum for about a week and didn’t realize all the great North Cascades trips being had in bluebird weather and excellent snow recently. We couldn’t get out until Saturday, but the weather still looked promising for Baker.

Our party of four (Jon, Shane, Brian, Eric) left the car before 5am, and even with the snow from previous week, we were still able to park about a ¼ mile below the Heliotrope trailhead. We were excited to see good snow still (about 4 inches of powder) in lower Grouse Creek basin. Skinning to the saddle divide between the Colman and Deming Glaciers went by quickly as we meandered through the moraines of upper Grouse Creek and by the Black Buttes through the various stages of darkness to full sunlight. However, the wind progressively increased to the point where we ditched our skis at the saddle to avoid carrying “sails” the rest of the way. I didn’t regret this decision as the wind was blowing across the Pumice Ridge at around 60 mph (my guess, pretty unpleasant) and the summit seemed worse. The spin drift and plumes were fun to watch. We were glad to use an axe and ski pole for balance. The Roman Wall was somewhat sheltered and even had pretty nice snow. We saw a couple people much tougher than us use their skis here.

After an extremely brief summit celebration (Want a picture? No, my hands are cold. Ok, let’s go.) with my son in law (Shane - his first time on top), we hurried down to our skis, meeting at least a dozen others heading up. The snow down to 6K was various flavors of wind … blown, slab, eroded, pillowed, buffed crust, and occasionally good boot top powder. The good snow (in the morning) below 6K had either turned to slush or was now a breakable crust. The best skiing was in the shallow north facing bowls (the 6-7K Heliotrope area). While the skiing wasn’t what we had hoped for, it is still the way to travel this mountain.

Overall, a great day out. No pictures from me, but others might post some.

Posts: 200

Re: Windy Baker, March 20, 2010
« Reply #1 on: 03/22/10, 09:28 PM »

I suddenly feel like the TAY photographer.  Cheesy

I was in the area hoping to photograph sunrise from the Mt Baker Vista viewpoint and I spied the headlamps from a party of four climbing. This could be your group (lower center of photo):

A little later, just after cresting (Right center, just right of the outcrop):

Lastly, conditions at about sunrise (a very lackluster one too):


Posts: 122

Re: Windy Baker, March 20, 2010
« Reply #2 on: 03/23/10, 09:44 AM »

That would be us. Thanks for posting.

We thought we saw a light heading up the road toward the vista viewpoint. I thought it might be a sledder but could hear no engine.
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