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|-+  2012 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  April 2012 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  April 27-28, Mt Baker Coleman Deming
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Author Topic: April 27-28, Mt Baker Coleman Deming  (Read 1692 times)

Posts: 68

April 27-28, Mt Baker Coleman Deming
« on: 04/30/12, 05:10 PM »

I was opposed to the plan originally, I wanted to do something steeper and narrower, and couldn't understand why Jacob (a snowboarder) wanted to do such a traverse of a route. He was convinced that there would be powder. I was skeptical, but also unsure of what conditions would be like lower down. Friday morning I found myself daydreaming about sunshine in the mountains during my psych lecture, and when Jacob called saying "Ben and I are going to climb Baker in an hour, you can come if you'd like." it was an easy decision. I asked Cory if I could borrow his monopod ski poles prompting him to skip class and join the fun.

We were ran into snow patches at about 2000 ft but made it to about 2300, stopping before a sketchy bridge crossing. Just above the trailhead we found a suitable snow bridge across grouse creek (much easier than in september when we walked across wet logs in ski boots in the dark with overnight gear) and set up camp at about 3500 ft. After some dinner we set out for an evening lap and exploration of grouse creek where we found a mix of wind crust and corn, and then returned for second dinner.

Alrams rang at five, and packs were shouldered by six fifteen (i was annoyed but not concerned). After a battle with hard steep slopes without ski crampons we got our first view of the mountain. It was shrouded in a lenticular cloud and our path would soon lead us out of the sunshine. A short break turned into a nap to let the cloud leave while we weren't looking. After an hour we got moving again despite the clouds stubborn presence.

By this point we were breaking trail through several inches of light slightly wind affected powder. I silently hoped that nobody would suggest we farm the tempting slopes of heliotrope ridge and tried to lead myself and the group quickly away from them.

As we worked our way toward the col the clouds on top of the mountain dissipated while the clouds at our feet lurked closer. We could see that the choke of a marvelous hourglass chute off Baker's west face was just filled in enough to ski and had high hopes to go for it.

Once at the col Jacob Ben and I were feeling the pull of the summit and transitioned to crampons while Cory caught up. He was tired and climbing was beginning to make him nauseous, but we prodded him to at least give the last stretch a shot, unable to resist the temptation of the summit that seemed only an arms reach away. As we climbed so did the cloud deck, and it quickly became a tight race.

We stopped to wait for Cory to catch up and got completely enveloped by clouds. For Jacob and I this was our third attempt at the summit having turned around at or below the col twice before and we greatly desired to continue on. Cory was getting more nauseous and didn't want to go any further, concerned that pushing it farther would hinder his ability to ski down. We asked if he wanted to wait in the cold, while we ran to the top but understandably he did not.

The near white out conditions meant we had to descend back down the rime encrusted ridge to the col. All of our "challenge days" of skiing god awful conditions inbounds paid off and I found myself enjoying the descent in some sick and twisted way.

When we got to the col not only were we more socked in than before necessitating that we follow our skin track down, the sun just behind the clouds had created the dreaded microwave effect, turning our skin red, and our powder into chowder. All we could do was laugh at our misfortune and the foolishness of our nap as we followed our skin track through the white out.

It wasn't until we got back to heliotrope that we could see more than twenty feet and at that elevation the snow was stop and go glue. we went through another layer of clouds and just before camp found the best snow of the day: overcooked corn! Ben and I found a fun little chute with rocks to weave between and enjoyed the last turns down to camp.

Despite our misadventure everybody was in good spirits and we laughed at each others attempts to tele ski on the road back to the car.

Posts: 256

Re: April 27-28, Mt Baker Coleman Deming
« Reply #1 on: 05/01/12, 05:28 PM »

Surely a better story than a regular, fair-weather ascent of the CD.
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