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05/20/18, 08:10 PM

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Author Topic: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th  (Read 3636 times)
lrudholm
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Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« on: 05/09/10, 08:36 PM »

Took a bus up too Bellingham Friday night arriving at 9:35 pm to meet up with Spencer and head to the trial head. That's when I realized my boots were still sitting on the boot dryer in Seattle. Like any sane person we drove down to Seattle and straight up too the Heliotrope Trail head. (Too the downed tree.) And proceeded up the trail. We made it up too about a 1/3 of the way up keeping a good pace. After that the lack of any sleep started too show and the two other groups heading up really pulled ahead. From there on it was it felt like a serious slog and couldn't keep a continuous pace. Regardless we made it up. Spencer up too the summit while I called it quits at the top of the Roman Wall with a skin failure at the last switchback, complete exhaustion and clouds coming and going.

2-5 inches of powder with mixed wind effect on the way up. The skiing was great on the way down
with about 7 inches and a light crust on the Roman wall. Less snow down below. The snow stayed powdery until just above the regular heliotrope ridge area, where the sun had affected the snow in a large variety of ways on the different aspects. No corn yet. We made it down too the car at about 2:30 pm so the sun might have effected the slopes a little more by the end of the day.

These were possibly the best turns I have had all season. Not the deepest but, really, really good for wide and fast Telemark turns. I hope to ski and see more of our volcanoes this season.

*Please excuse the sideways pic.*



* Mt._Baker_Coleman_Deming_dropping_in_low.jpg (220.92 KB, 1000x666 - viewed 1203 times.)

* Mt._Baker_Coleman_Deming_Moon_low.jpg (190.1 KB, 1000x666 - viewed 1215 times.)

* Mt._Baker_Coleman_Deming_Final_slope_low.jpg (186.28 KB, 1000x666 - viewed 1195 times.)
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Leyland
Scotty
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #1 on: 05/11/10, 01:41 PM »

Hey sounds like a dope trip. I am hoping to make the summit this coming weekend with my two buddies. My brother and I tried for a summit attempt on March 20, but had to turn back at 10,000 ft due to extreme winds, not bringing crampons, and a bit of exhaustion. Anyway I am hoping to make it to the summit this time. I was wondering what kind of gear you guys brought? Since this is the most recent trip report I have found I am hoping I can get some info on the conditions up there. It's been almost 2 months since my last attempt and i Know the conditions can change pretty quickly up there. Were there any open crevasses that caused concern up past the black buttes area? Did you guys bring harness, rope, prussiks? or did you just skin up unroped? We didn't bring a rope last time we went in March, but I don't know how much things have melted up there or if they are still good to go. Any info on the conditions, specifically open crevasses or gear notes would be helpful. Thanks!
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James Wells
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #2 on: 05/11/10, 02:34 PM »

There could be a good middle ground between no glacier gear and the full roped up deal.  On any route that goes over substantial glaciers that could have crevasses, even if crevasses are not in season, I like to bring a minimalist setup that would allow you to resolve many crevasse (or similar) situations but weighs a lot less.  Key items are some length of 6 mm cord (yes, you can climb it or haul a person with it but you would not want to do so all day), 1" tubular webbing that can be tied (or is pre-tied) into a harness, and a set of prusiks.

Obviously risk is reduced if more than one person carries such a setup; it would be less good if the one person with the gear is the one at the bottom of the crevasse.

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Spencerhutch
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #3 on: 05/12/10, 10:14 AM »

When we went up we just skinned up, along with the other groups we saw up there too. There weren't any open crevasses yet but some of the bigger ones were getting close. As always I would have to agree that bringing something is better then nothing. We also brought Ice ax and Crampons but never actually needed them due to the nice layer of soft on top. This could have very easily changed this week though with all the sunny weather. With that said I am also guessing that there will be a nice skin track (and probably mountaineers) to the summit with this beautiful weather. Good luck to you and maybe I'll see you up there!
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Alan Brunelle
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #4 on: 05/12/10, 02:00 PM »

I am curious about the road access to the trail head.  NFS says that snow starts at 7.57 miles.  But you stated that a tree stopped you.  Roughly how close to the trail head can I get?  Also is the tree removable given a home style chain saw?

I am assuming that the snow that the NFS is showing was from the new snow from over a week ago.  Earlier reports showed an open road prior to that, so I wonder if that ripe snow is now mostly gone given the current conditions.

Thanks,
Alan
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curmudgeon
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #5 on: 05/12/10, 03:27 PM »

The tree has been removed.  You can drive to the road split where the sledders head west, about 1/4 mile from the trailhead.
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spionin
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #6 on: 05/13/10, 10:46 AM »

does anyone know how consolidated the snow is right now? (i.e. how essential is flotation for the approach)?

thanks! -veronika
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Scotty
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #7 on: 05/13/10, 10:53 AM »

does anyone know how consolidated the snow is right now? (i.e. how essential is flotation for the approach)?

thanks! -veronika

When I was up there on March 20 the snow was pretty deep and soft lower down and pretty hardpack/icy up top. You definitely would have wanted skis, a splitboard, or snowshoes. Almost been two months since then though, so I'm not sure now. Sounds like most people are skinning up though. I would recommend bringing snowshoes if you can find some. They will probably help, even if it is just slush warmed from the sun I feel like it would make the walking easier with the snow shoes...Can't be sure though until we get out there. My two friends are bringing snowshoes if that helps you make your decision.
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spionin
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #8 on: 05/13/10, 10:57 AM »

thanks, scotty.
i skied there three weeks ago, and the weather has done A LOT of different things since then. i'm just wondering if anyone has a gauge of how much the snow has consolidated given the warm temps and precip-free conditions we've seen this whole week.  thanks again. -v
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Alan Brunelle
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #9 on: 05/13/10, 12:07 PM »

A check of the avalanche report would suggest that the new snow of a week or so may become unstable this weekend.  They were clear that the deep rotten conditions seen on general south aspects of North Cascade mountains will likely spread to north and shaded aspects of higher elevations through the end of the week and through the weekend.  In particular, concern is for the new snow from late April through last week may slide on the rotten snow below.

I was planning to ski Heliotrope this weekend and will monitor the conditions over the next few days.  I was a bit surprised by the forecast because there has been quite a bit of time transpired since the new snow, including some cold and some warming temperatures, with sun to boot.  However, I can confirm that my short trip to Stevens pass last Friday helps me understand the conditions.  While we were skinning up on Showcase in shorts and shirts sleeves with apparently very warm sunny conditions, it started to snow.  And yes that was snow falling while we were fullly exposed to the sun.  The light flakes clearly showed no sign of melting as they slowly drifted to the ground.  What an example of the free air temperatures being below freezing while at the same time our bodies were feeling an apparent temperature in the 70s!  (See a photo of us captured by the Stevens camera to understand the conditions)  So under these so-called warm days we have been having, the shaded north facing slopes have really mostly been experiencing below freezing temperatures.  My guess is that is slopes 4500 ft. or higher that will be the problem.

If we do head up to Heliotrope, we will definitely make careful analysis of the snow and try to negotiate logically.  It is just that so much of what we would want to ski is right in the sweet spot of instability.  We may just stay on ridge crests.

Heliotrope typically seems somewhat unique and is not so steep that it is my hope that the snow has indeed experience strong sun and yet freezing conditions on many nights.  It is my hope that those slopes will have stabilized, but I will be wary.

Good luck,

Alan


* stevenspassAltimeter2.jpg (66.56 KB, 640x480 - viewed 486 times.)
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alecapone
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Re: Mt Baker via Heliotrope May 8th
« Reply #10 on: 05/13/10, 01:20 PM »

Went up the CD yesterday. In the AM, float was a non issue. Snow was very firm until later in the day. grouse creek approach is still good. travel was easy, and crampons not needed but for the traversy part to the coleman due to splitboard.

roman wall was in great shape, and the best riding.  Ski cuts on suspect slopes above tree line generated nothing. 

No instability noted, other then below alpine. Mostly rotten snow wanting to drag you into small terrain traps. I'd say that the recent snow hasn't consolidated enough to become corn. so it goes from firm to something that didn't seem like it would be fun on skis.  but that was yesterday and we started down at 2pm.

Take plenty of squash pizza.
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scott
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