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Author Topic: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8  (Read 2385 times)
radka
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Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« on: 05/15/16, 08:36 PM »

Mt Baker via Sholes, Mazama, Rainbow, Park, and Boulder Glaciers

May 6-8, 2016


Day 1

Radka and I had been eying the Park Glacier since our trip up the Boulder-Park Cleaver a month ago. We asked Amar for some beta and he expressed interest in joining since he’d been unsuccessful on the route several times. So the 3 of us made plans for a 3-day trip.
We started up from Heather Meadows shortly after 11. Once we topped out on Artist Point, we got our first view of the mountain and a wave of concern. Wow, the Park Glacier bergschrund looked really wide open. As in, completely wide open. There appeared to be 3 options: a small block closer to the Cockscomb, a ramp in the center, or an end-run to the left. We shrugged the uncertainty off and continued forward making our first transition to traverse the south slopes of Table Mountain as far as we could. We would transition 2 more times on north slopes of Ptarmigan Ridge before reaching the Coleman Pinnacle saddle, where the summer trail officially ends. The pollen was hideous and we used Amar’s base cleaner to wipe it off at the 3rd transition.

We traversed over to the Sholes Glacier and then transitioned one last time for the final climb to The Portals and then a high point above the Sholes Glacier (6840’) to set up camp. The total trek took about 6 ½ hours with several lengthy breaks. It was very warm in the evening and I slept with my bag unzipped most of the night under calm skies.

Sholes glacier and the route ahead


The Portals


Baker and Milky Way



Day 2

We left camp shortly after 7am and Amar’s zoom photo suggested there was no way across the ‘shrund. Bummer. The small block on the right side had collapsed and was no longer there and the center ramp was discontinuous. This was unfortunate news because the entire glacier up to that point looked fantastic and smooth. From camp, we skied down about 700’ to the Mazama Glacier. There we put our harnesses on and started the finally continuous uphill assault. We crossed the Glacier Gap and briefly touched the Rainbow Glacier then continued on to the Park. The higher we went the more Radka and I really wanted to check out the ‘shrund. Amar insisted it was wasted effort but agreed to check it out anyway. I didn’t agree with the wasted effort part given we had all day to explore and were making excellent time. We ascended smoothly until we reached the ‘shrund at about 9800’.

Dropping onto Mazama Glacier from camp


Onto Park Glacier with Shuksan in the background




Unfortunately, there was no way across. The only options were to explore an end-run climber’s left, then traverse climber’s right above the ‘shrund or explore the climber’s right end of the ‘shrund and see if we could scramble the Cockscomb rock for a short step before getting back on snow. Neither option was certain from our current position and both required further exploration. Amar wasn’t comfortable with the idea of either option and his skills level and left no room for compromise thus no further exploration was attempted.

The 'schrund







So we skied down, together, about 900’ on fantastic corn to the Boulder-Park Cleaver. Here we found a suitable new ascent route that would eventually take us over the Boulder Glacier, the same spot Radka and I had been to a month ago. The initial slope was steep enough that we carried skis up it and once topping out, roped up and continued on foot for the traverse over to the Boulder Glacier. The climber’s left edge of the ‘shrund above the Boulder-Park Cleaver was barely passable and most likely isn’t any more, unless you’re willing to get on the rocky ridge. It was interesting to see how much this area had changed in the past month. Once we rejoined the Boulder, we transitioned back to skis and skinned the rest of the way to the summit.

Skiing Park Glacier







The wind was steady on the summit but we found the area just northwest and below to be significantly calmer. We took a break here then started our descent. The conditions had firmed up quite a bit in the last 30 minutes but there were still a few spots on the Upper Boulder that were soft. Re-crossing the ‘shrund was an interesting experience and we all knocked a little bit more of the bridge down. The steep slope we booted up only 3 hours before was now very firm as it was already in the shade. Below, the angle eased and the snow was borderline mush or good corn. From here, we forged a new way across the wild and expansive Park Glacier. Eventually we re-gained our skin track and found mostly fantastic corn for the descent to the Mazama Glacier. From there, we had a bonus 700’ of elevation to re-climb back to camp, arriving around 6:30.











Shortly before sunset, the forecasted weather started to move in and the wind really picked up. Unbeknownst to us, the Aurora Borealis was going to be the most intense it had been in the past decade. Radka’s dedication to night photography captured it magnificently! In her excitement she woke me up but I was too tired to enjoy it for more than 10 minutes. Plus, I knew I could view her pictures later which will capture the event much better than my eyes would. The wind was steady and gusty throughout most of the night while the marine layer moved in.

Sunset from camp


Tomyhoi, American Border Peak, and Larabee


The blue hour


Changing light on Baker




The amazing show starts!




Aurora above Shuksan




Aurora above Hadley Peak










Shooting stars



Day 3
Somewhere before dawn the wind calmed down and we woke to drizzle and a white out. It was hard motivating all members of the party to pack up so we didn’t leave camp until after 11. At the end of yesterday, we had picked up pollen again on the Mazama and Sholes Glacier that had to be cleaned before departure. Despite the cleaning, we all had issues keeping our skins attached, and had to employ the use of ski straps. Radka and Amar both have new Black Diamond Ascension skins with only 6 days of use on them. If you haven’t heard, Black Diamond changed their glue formula this past year, and the new one is bad. None of our skins had completely dried overnight which also contributed to the problem.

We steadily made our way back to Heather Meadows and arrived around 4:30. The ski down from Artist Point was not that easy given all the pollen and a significant portion was spent either shuffling or skating. This was my last trip on my Skuksan’s (rest in peace). After taking the bindings off them on Monday, the inserts were in the same shape as Radka’s Brightside’s, which failed almost a month ago on our Tatoosh Traverse. I was clearly on borrowed time and I’m glad to have a pair of Wayback’s ready-to-go!

Skiing the Sholes Glacier




Got goo?


In the end, I’m glad we made the summit as a team and returned home safely. However, the journey for me is more important than the destination. Over the years, I’ve learned over and over again the importance of choosing compatible trip partners. Trips like this one remind me of how extremely lucky I am to be married to the best trip partner I could ever ask for.

Trip report by Chris
Photos by Radka

More detailed photo report here: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8020681


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kamtron
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Posts: 559


Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #1 on: 05/15/16, 09:12 PM »

Chris, Radka, and Amar,
Great trip and excellent photos as always!
I'm a little confused---was there a solid bridge/end run on the climber's left side of the bergschrund?

Thanks,
Kam
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kamtron
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Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #2 on: 05/15/16, 09:16 PM »

Ok-I've answered my own question with your nwhikers photos. Looks like it's good to go!
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radka
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Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #3 on: 05/15/16, 10:08 PM »

Thanks, kamtron!

The headwall definitely went a week ago. I think one could also get to Cockscomb Ridge, with some added creativity and complexity, by end-running to climber's left and traversing back, but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to explore and confirm that option.
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Griff
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Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #4 on: 05/16/16, 08:12 AM »

WOW. Your photos are always good, but man those northern light shots are AMAZING. thank you for sharing!!!!

BTW - I like to feature your wonderful photography on what I call "The Monday Shot", on the Freeride team's FB page.
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DOD
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Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #5 on: 05/16/16, 10:00 AM »

great trip and beautiful photos!
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radka
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Posts: 114


Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #6 on: 05/16/16, 10:03 AM »

Thank you all! Happy to spread the joy of this unique experience.


BTW - I like to feature your wonderful photography on what I call "The Monday Shot", on the Freeride team's FB page.
  Sure, go ahead! What's the page?
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Aaron_Riggs
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Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #7 on: 05/16/16, 10:29 AM »

Your Aurora Borealis photos are peaceful and exhilarating, same as I think of skiing. We saw your tracks on Friday and used what was left of your skin track. Thanks for sharing!
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radka
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Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #8 on: 05/16/16, 10:58 AM »

Your Aurora Borealis photos are peaceful and exhilarating, same as I think of skiing.
That's a great way to put it!

Glad our tracks were still of use to you. Nice job on the traverse!
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Donnelly_M
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Posts: 156


Re: Baker via Sholes, Park, Boulder (aurora), 5/6-5/8
« Reply #9 on: 05/18/16, 12:07 AM »

Well!  Black Diamond decided to change their glue formula!  That may explain why my skins began to fail only after two trips and perhaps deposited glue on my bases which made for some hideously slow descents.  Looks like I'll keep the good old Magic Carpet skins and just use ski straps to hold them in place since I lost the parts that hook to the tail of my skis until I order myself a new set of Magic Carpets!
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