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Author Topic: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak  (Read 20881 times)
Amar Andalkar
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May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« on: 05/13/05, 04:01 AM »

Sherman Peak is the prominent 10160+ ft satellite summit of Mount Baker, a sharp conical spire which crowns the southern rim of Sherman Crater. I'd wanted to ski Sherman Peak for a long time, having skied past it numerous times on the Squak and Easton Glaciers, and David Coleman and I had even made an attempt to ski it last month (see TAY report). Not much info is available about skiing the peak, other than a typically cryptic comment in Beckey vol. 3 stating that "the ascent is a moderate angle, and in good spring conditions can be a rewarding ski trek." Sky had been eyeing Sherman Peak for a while too, especially since others had skied a sick line on the NE Face last year, and we decided to give it another shot during a forecast weather window on Thursday. Our gang of 6 (including Barry, Justin, Paul, and Patrick, but unfortunately not David who had work commitments) met at Sky's house at 2:30 AM, and set off for Schriebers Meadow. A thick cloud layer hid the mountain and the dawn, but the Seattle forecast discussion had stated that the cloud deck was isolated to a stable layer between 3000 and 5000 ft with a 9000 ft freezing level. We shall see.

We hiked up the Scott Paul trail at 5:30 AM in gloomy conditions, the fog slowly wetting our hair and clothing. The trailhead has 0-12" of patchy snowcover, and the trail has numerous drifts up to 3 ft deep but also lengthy bare sections. We finally switched to skis at 4200 ft, and skinned the trail to the 4600 ft saddle with only a couple short bare patches. From there, we headed NW and then north well to the right of the trail, aiming blindly towards the edge of the Squak Glacier near 5800 ft east of Crag View. Then, as we neared 5600 ft, the fog thinned and we soon broke out into beautiful blue skies and warm sunny weather, with a stunning view of Sherman Peak in front of us (see photo below) and Mount Shuksan and the North Cascades to our right floating above the cloud deck. It was going to be a fantastic day.

We skinned directly up the Squak, heading NW via the path of least resistance and fewest crevasses. Snowcover on the glacier is good, perhaps more like a typical late June, but nevertheless crevasse hazard is minimal, and the harnesses and ropes we had brought stayed in our packs all day. We continued NW up to 8500 ft near the edge of the Easton Glacier, as I fell way behind the group due to intestinal difficulties and marginal fitness. We regrouped here in a blazing reflector oven and then headed north towards the crater rim, eventually skinning to 9800 ft just below a saddle west of Sherman Peak with a panoramic view looking back SW at the Black Buttes and Twin Sisters Range. Sky kicked steps up a short stretch of 45-50 degree snow to reach the crater rim, and then traversed the narrow crater rim east to the summit of Sherman Peak just after noon. The rest of the group followed and eventually the final stragglers summited around 1 PM. Sherman Peak is a very appealing summit, small and narrow with dizzying drop-offs on three sides, with an in-your-face view of Boulder Glacier tumbling down the upper cone of Mount Baker above the steaming sulfurous depths of Sherman Crater. (View a 10-image panorama showing the crater rim, Mount Baker summit, Boulder Glacier, and Sherman Peak, at 3 resolutions: 1600, 3200, and 6400 pixels wide.)

The descent back down onto the Squak looked to be in great shape, as numerous snow-filled gullies lead down from the crater rim just west of the summit at angles of 40-50 degrees. But our plan all along had been to ski the SE-facing Talum Glacier instead (see photo from April 20), which drops directly from the summit of Sherman Peak. The east side of the peak is a 50 ft cliff above the glacier, but the NE side had filled in to a short steep 50 degree snow ramp above a convex 60 degree roll-off into oblivion. Luckily it was easy to angle in and traverse across the steep ramp (powder on an icy crust, see photo of Sky and his twin dropping in) instead of skiing it directly, thus depositing one onto gentler slopes and a small flat at the top of the Talum after a heart-stopping second or two. The skiing was good on corn-like spring snow, but stability was marginal with numerous wet sluffs slowly churning down the steep slopes. If only I could have dragged myself up there an hour earlier, conditions might have been closer to optimum. The upper Talum is exceptionally scenic, surrounded by numerous spires of volcanic rock along the ridges separating it from the Squak and Boulder Glaciers and with a superb view across to Mount Shuksan.

We turned back onto the Squak at the obvious connection below 8800 ft, with some of us skiing a steep headwall to the east of the huge rock outcrop (terrible unstable snow) and others angling above and to the west of the rock (better). Skiing on the Squak was good if you like spring snow, 4-8" of softened but not sticky mush. It was easy to carve big round turns if you maintained a head of speed. We re-entered the cloud deck at 5600 ft (numerous holes had appeared in it during the day, but it never burned off) and skied down to just below 4500 ft on the trail before hitting the first bare section. A post-holing slog down the trail brought us back to the cars by 4 PM, and we soon headed for Mexican food in Sedro-Wooley. It was a great way to spend a Thursday, just over 7000 ft of ascent (counting ups and downs on the trail) for 5700 vertical ft of turns from a spectacular summit. Or as Sky calls it, a rest day.

Amar Andalkar
www.skimountaineer.com


Sherman Peak towers above us from the edge of the Squak Glacier, just above the cloud deck. The Squak Glacier fills most of the frame, with the Talum Glacier visible just below the right skyline. Click here for an enlarged version of this photo.



« Last Edit: 05/13/05, 03:04 PM by andalkar » Logged

Jason_H.
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #1 on: 05/13/05, 04:35 AM »

Awesome  Grin I was wondering what you guys would do. Great stuff! Your TR made me feel like I missed out, but I'm sure the pictures will make me feel like I was there, leaving the jealousy to wilt. Now I'm going to go look at the forecast and see if the boulder park is worth doing tomorrow or if biking might be my better bet.
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curmudgeon
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #2 on: 05/13/05, 06:19 AM »

Good stuff.  Looks like that is the right side of the mountain right now, considering the sparks we were getting off the "powder" on the upper CD last weekend.
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powscraper
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #3 on: 05/13/05, 09:18 AM »

Transcendence
Sky
Nomad surfs the headwall-ish slope below Sherman

Random comments:

-I think the aspect that we descended was soft long before we got there; the higher slopes were nearly out of the sun by that time.  The opposite side of Sherman, where we climbed, would have probably offered firmer conditions or alternatively a crust.  There were lots of options over there too.

-not just Mexican... El Gitano.  A spicy, fresh oasis tucked away within the rural wilderness of the Skagit Valley.
« Last Edit: 05/13/05, 11:50 AM by username » Logged
Paul Belitz
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #4 on: 05/13/05, 02:41 PM »

A good ski. Worth the sunburn that has my face oozing today.

I've opted to stuff a bunch more pics into this thread. Nothing special, skip this post if you've got anything remotely worth doing.

Layers of clouds.
Justin displayin' the knuckledragger steeze.
Dr. Barry decided that the snow did not suck.
He'd rather be working a 48 hour shift.
Amar liked it, too.
The snow got a tiny bit chunky.
Tracks. From the left, mine, Sky's, and Barry's (right?)
Justin managed to take a photo of me! He tilted the camera, too.


A very fun day with a strong crew. This spring and summer might help my no-winter blues.

Barry, Patrick, and Amar, please email or PM me your email addresses, and I'll get everyone all my pics.
« Last Edit: 05/13/05, 03:48 PM by pbelitz » Logged
normanclyde
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #5 on: 05/13/05, 03:27 PM »

Amar, Justin, Paul, thanks for the photos and the good times.

Amar, you were telling me about your trip to Muir years ago, when you realized you were on to something good.  I think that yesterday I had something like that experience.  I feel myself becoming hooked.  Not long ago, where alpine adventures are concerned, I was focused almost entirely on the ascent as the portion worthy of attention.  Now I see what I've been missing!  Grin  Next time I'll bring a camera so I can return the favor.
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Jeff Huber
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #6 on: 05/13/05, 03:33 PM »

Wow, there's a ton of ski porn in this thread! Thanks everyone for the great photos and TR.

I see Sky used a pair of TLT4Pro boots. Interesting.
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nomad
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #7 on: 05/13/05, 05:22 PM »

Nice job with the tr amar!   Pics looked great too.  Seems we definitely picked the right day to be up there to reap the nice corn up top.  Next time we'll have to do it twice over to satisfy Sky.
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skykilo
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #8 on: 05/13/05, 05:35 PM »

Sorry Paul, wrong answer.  Mine are the ones displaying only two turns on the viewer's right.  

I'm plenty satisfied now; I just finished two hours of full court hoops and some weights.
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kam
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #9 on: 05/14/05, 03:52 AM »

Quote

Paul: nice legs.  Grin
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What do you mean you didn't bring skis?
Joedabaker
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #10 on: 05/14/05, 04:30 AM »

Awesome!!!!
Great climb and TR. Thanks for sharing the pics Amar and crew. That is a climb you just don't get out of the car in your sneekers and hit.
Joe
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Paul Belitz
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #11 on: 05/14/05, 07:29 AM »

Quote

Paul: nice legs.  Grin

Grin
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OldHouseMan
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Re: May 12, 2005, Mount Baker, Sherman Peak
« Reply #12 on: 05/15/05, 02:29 AM »

Nice, makes me wish I lived in the North Cascades.

Aaron
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