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Author Topic: Mt Baker via Squak, June 4-5, 2016  (Read 3594 times)
radka
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Mt Baker via Squak, June 4-5, 2016
« on: 06/09/16, 09:57 PM »

Baker via Squak 6/4 – 6/5

This was our 3rd annual trip up Mt Baker for recent graduates of the Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue course. The trip this year had to be rescheduled due to weather and we only had 2 graduates on the trip but we still managed to fill the roster with friends. Like the previous year, we decided to go the Squak Glacier, since the route offers solitude and great skiing. That’s exactly what we ended up finding again this year.
As expected, the trailhead was completely packed when we arrived, around 10:30am. Before starting the roughly 2 hour hike up Scott Paul trail to continuous snow, a 5 minute team project was undertaken to strap Roman’s ski tips together without him removing his pack. After completion, we took our traditional photo of everyone’s backside. There’s a few blowdowns on the trail, only 1 major that required kneeling under since going around it would have arguably been more work. Where the trail emerges from the forest at a meadow near tree-line, we gratefully hit continuous snow. Last year, there was still another 20 minutes of hiking from here before reaching continuous snow, and virtually no snow along the trail in the forest, which was in plentitude this year.




We worked our way up to the toe of the Squak and around 2:30pm some skiers were coming down from their one day summit dash. They told us the snow was too soft and they had come down too late. They also said there was settlement on the Roman Wall with whoomphing from the system that had come through on Thursday. We thanked them for the information and continued on to our destination, Crag View. We stopped for lunch before dropping about 50 feet to the toe of the Squak. Another group of 5 skiers (Lowell Skoog we think) was also descending the glacier at this point and we expected them to come past us any time. But they never did and we saw later they had sidestepped up to the Crag View ridge and apparently skied back a different way. My guess is they went a way that has a lot less hiking and a lot more skiing.

We made the Crag View camp shortly after 4 and were happy no one else had occupied it yet. Radka found running water about 10 minutes out from camp running off the various rock cliffs. Some of us melted snow at the same time. After dinner, we decided we’d wake up at 4am, assigned rope teams, and prepared the ropes. Then I made a 2nd trip to the running water to top off all our water bottles for the next day. We were all in bed around 9pm and enjoyed a very calm evening that was so warm, the snow never really refroze at elevations below 9000’.





Sunday

We left camp around 5:15am and worked our way steadily up, enjoying the sunrise, and once again with the entire glacier to ourselves. Our first break was safely below the ice fall ~8000, ~1200’ above camp. I was chatting with Radka and we noticed Nikolay had his Jetboil out and was melting snow. Anyone want coffee? Having already had 2 cups before leaving camp, I reluctantly declined, but vowed to take some at the next opportunity, which would be at the summit crater. As we worked out way up to the crux crevasse, I asked Matt if he wanted to take the lead on the rope, and he said, “Yeah!” The crux crevasse is in pretty good shape with various bridge options to cross it. I felt the one we crossed on the way up, which had signs of traffic, to be the worst, and we went across significantly thicker bridges on the way down, only 10 feet away climber’s right. When we reached the summit crater, the Jetboil was back in action and I was more than willing to help with this round of coffee.











We transitioned to boots and crampons for the Roman Wall since there was already a solid boot pack up it and the snow surface was still pretty frozen. Dick took the lead for this final leg of the ascent with his son Peter following behind. Once above the Wall where the terrain mellows out on the summit plateau, we stopped to get out of the ropes and transition back to skinning. The Jetboil came out once again too! I let Nikolay know leader’s permission is no longer required for him  The Roman Wall is in great shape right now, especially compared to last year - 2 weeks earlier.

We skinned over to the summit and celebrated victory with group photos and high 5’s. We had the entire summit to ourselves. There was a steady breeze on the summit proper that didn’t exist anywhere else. As we left, 2 more skiers were coming up.







We made our way back over to the Roman Wall and transitioned. We started the descent at corn-thirty (11:30am). Holy cow did we nail it. The Wall had softened beautifully. I have never skied it under such perfectly smooth and soft conditions that we had. Many hoots and yeahs were heard. We had a few more shorter descents as we worked out way back to the crux crevasse. The skiing between ~9500’ – ~8500’, which is on a south facing aspect, was overly soft and on the mushy side. There was some sadness, since we thought it would be like this all the way back to camp, but once we hit ~8500’, we were pleasantly surprised. The snow quality improved significantly and it was pretty good all the way back to camp ~6500’, with lots of opportunity for big GS turns. We were back to camp at 12:20 which was roasting in the sunlight. We packed up and skied back to the Scott Paul transition point quickly, eager to get under the forest canopy and out of the direct sun. Then we had lunch and started hiking out, stopping only to pump some refreshing cold water half way down, and arrived at the trail head ~3:45pm.
The Squak is currently in great shape! Go get it!
















« Last Edit: 06/09/16, 10:02 PM by radka » Logged
ron j
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Re: Mt Baker via Squak, June 4-5, 2016
« Reply #1 on: 06/10/16, 06:24 AM »

Nice work.
Rockin' pictures, Radka.
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rlsg
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Re: Mt Baker via Squak, June 4-5, 2016
« Reply #2 on: 06/10/16, 07:07 PM »

Cool report...GREAT PHOTOGRAPGHY
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bbrelje
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Re: Mt Baker via Squak, June 4-5, 2016
« Reply #3 on: 06/10/16, 09:52 PM »

Awesome! Glad you found the corn on a warm weekend. Love that crag view campsite.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Mt Baker via Squak, June 4-5, 2016
« Reply #4 on: 06/10/16, 10:16 PM »

We stopped for lunch before dropping about 50 feet to the toe of the Squak. Another group of 5 skiers (Lowell Skoog we think) was also descending the glacier at this point and we expected them to come past us any time. But they never did and we saw later they had sidestepped up to the Crag View ridge and apparently skied back a different way. My guess is they went a way that has a lot less hiking and a lot more skiing.

Yeah, that was probably us. We camped Friday night around 6100ft on a bench below (SE of) Crag View. We found some dry camping spots there. The sidestepping path that you saw got us back onto to the bench as we returned to camp. Below that we had pleasant skiing on the shoulder back to timberline.
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