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| | |-+  June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
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Author Topic: June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route  (Read 6157 times)
powscraper
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June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
« on: 07/01/04, 07:02 AM »



This is a TR copied from my home site (link below).

Who: Colin and I, Charles, Mark, and Russ.

I'd been trying to get people to ski Baker with me for a while and finally it looked like a go. Donnelly and Colin, both of whom I hadn't met before, responded to my request for partners on cascadeclimbers.com and we decided to ski the Easton Route on Baker. I arrived in Sedro Wooley at 4 AM as agreed, but I got a call from Donnelly saying that he was still at work and wouldn't make it. I waited around for Colin for a while, fearing that my directions had been unclear. Around 4:30 or so I saw him making a U-turn and chased him down. We ended up getting on the trail at about 6 AM.

We made our way up the trail (which has some new washouts and creekbed crossings) in good time, passing a group of skiers whom we had seen in the parking lot when we arrived. I was jealous of their lightweight ski gear. We wore tennis shoes up the Railroad Grade to the highest rock at the edge of the glacier, then took a long break to put on ropes, harness, and boots. The weather was great for climbing, mostly clear but with a good breeze to keep things cool. It took us a while to reach the base of the crater, such is often the case when using rope. The other group of skiers (who were unroped, but not without rope) caught up to us there.

We led the way up the headwall, kicking steps in deep slush and entering the lenticular cloud that had been gracing the summit all day. Once we were on the summit plateau and in the cloud it was a whiteout, but a pleasant one. We followed an old bootpath accross the flats to the true summit, where there were no other climbers and no views. On the way up I had been entertaining ideas of checking out the Park Headwall but the notion somehow eluded me in the whiteout. We didn't waste a lot of time up there and retraced our steps back to the Easton.

On our way back we passed those skiers again, who had decided to follow us up the headwall. They thanked us for kicking a bootpack, which was nice of them. We got back to the headwall for the most exiting turns of the day, semi-steep deep crusty slush with yawning crevasses below. Those are pretty good snow conditions for a snowboard, so I cruised down to the base of the one threatening crevasse to wait for Colin and take pictures (well, the camera went dead at that point so no photos).

The other skiers started down at the same time and we had a chance to chat, turns out that they were the Turns-All-Year.com Old Guard (Charles, Mark and Russ). We skied together for the remainder of the route, and found one particular section of perfect corn that capped the trip. It took a while to get down to the cars as the snow coverage was marginal below the top of the Railroad Grade. Russ was nice enough to offer us beers, and explain to us younguns how to keep beer cold in the back of your car (I had several very warm PBR's in my trunk).

I don't know what our official times were but the trip took quite a bit longer than I expected. A lot of that had to do with screwing around with rope and stopping a lot, but nevertheless the Easton felt quite a bit longer than the Coleman-Deming. Luckily with the not-too-warm weather we were free to take as much time as we wanted, and sometimes it's fun in its own way just to take your time.

The same TR, with a few photos, is under "recent outings":

http://www.neolectric.com/~justin/NWframe.html
« Last Edit: 07/18/04, 03:30 AM by username » Logged
russ
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Re: June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
« Reply #1 on: 07/01/04, 07:20 AM »

Hey, Justin. Nice to meet you and Colin on the mountain. Although we didn't get the snow conditions Mark promised it was a fun day nonetheless. btw, that was my beer you were drinking, not Mark's.  Wink
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powscraper
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Re: June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
« Reply #2 on: 07/01/04, 04:20 PM »

Oh dang sorry.  I was a little delerious after the climb, with the head cold and all. Huh  Thanks, that cold brew was a blessing.
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Charles
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Re: June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
« Reply #3 on: 07/02/04, 05:31 AM »

Justin, good to finally meet you, and thanks for those boot steps up the Roman Wall. This was my first time to the top of Baker, and although the view from the top was not spectacular due to the lenticular, and the snow on the Roman Wall didn't provide very good skiing, it was great to get there nonetheless. Thanks to Mark for organizing our group and providing necessary leadership. For the record, our group also included sb up to the crater (a really cool spot), but with his extensive experience I guess he knew that going to the top wouldn't be worth it for the skiing. Myself being a waxless ski aficionado, I should also note that sb was skiing his Outtabounds, with funny little bindings which held his little tiny boots on with a little tiny loop of metal (and that it looked like he left far fewer impact craters than any of us on gear than affords so much more "control").

Quote
June 27, 2004, Easton Glacier
It was 12:30 by the time I judged the corn ready, so I turned around at about 9800 feet (just above the entrance to the crater), ate a pair of Fig Newtons for energy, and started down...The first couple of thousand feet were absolutely stunning: perfectly smooth, perfectly white, with one to two inches of perfectly-conceived corn over a perfectly-consolidated base...This snow was so perfect in all respects that, despite my weariness, I didn't even get tired skiing; it was that effortless. It's been at least a couple of years since I found better spring snow than this. By comparison, the next couple of thousand feet were merely outstanding, while the final thousand clocked in no better than delightful.


Hmmm...only three days earlier and Mark had experienced 5000vf of the best corn in years? I figure there are two main possibilities. One, that Mark had ingested far too many Something Newtons before beginning his ski down, and the snow just seemed great. Or two, that the snow really had changed considerably over the intervening three days. The snow below 8500-9000' was nice corn for us, but above that breakable crust over what was likely the remnants of the early June snowfalls. So perhaps our breakable crust had been, three days earlier, Mark's supporting crust, and Mark's credibility as an accurate reporter of snow conditions can remain unscathed.

Being old folks and wanting to keep the skis on our feet, and off our backs, as long as possible, we were able to string together the snow patches down to 4500' with a few heather traverses. Although we did this unroped, we would recommend that others not try it this way unless thay have completed the Mountaineer's All-Terrain Skiing course.
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markharf
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Re: June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
« Reply #4 on: 07/02/04, 06:37 PM »

Obviously, my credibility has little staying power with this group.  I suppose it was good while it lasted.  

Altogether, this was a great tour for location, duration and company; only the summit views and the snow quality were lacking.  The Easton route still features only a few, relatively minor, mandatory crevasse hops, but some real yawners are opening fast.  We skied unroped both up and down, but this might have been problematic had visibility deteriorated.  

Charles, by the way, is quite the virtuosic heather skier, mixing short-radius hop turns with long, arcing carvers, leaping over saplings and blasting effortlessly through swampy meadows.  A few photos might surface at some point.  

Glad to tour with you Charles, Russ, Justin, Colin and sb.  
« Last Edit: 07/02/04, 06:39 PM by markharf » Logged
markharf
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Re: June 30, 2004, Mt. Baker, Easton Route
« Reply #5 on: 07/17/04, 07:52 PM »

And Charles: nice photos.  You managed to capture the intensity with which I was struggling to stay upright in the slushy, crusty snow.  
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