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Author Topic: July 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker  (Read 3530 times)
skykilo
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July 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« on: 07/07/07, 03:10 PM »


The NRNR ski line.  Image taken July 2006.  Big version of Mt Baker from the north.

Dave Brown and I skied the North Ridge of Mt. Baker with neither ski removal nor rappel yesterday.  I thought that it would be neat to ski the ice cliff since I first climbed it; this was my third time to climb it and the opportunity for a good dumb-monkey trick magically appeared. 

Dave and I left the Heliotrope Ridge TH at 4 am.  We hiked quickly to the Hogsback, where we changed into our ski boots and left our tennis shoes.  We booted the first roll on the Coleman with a rising traverse to the north.  There is a lot of snow on Mt. Baker; crossing the Coleman was easy.  We left our skins after the first roll since the snow was well-frozen corn and we booted to the most direct slope toward the North Ridge's ice cliff. 

From the easy slopes below the ice cliff at 9:30 am, we made a rising traverse to the far, left edge of the ice cliff.  The ice cliff was easy to climb, but still worth protecting.  I had only brought a 32 meter rope because I was hoping we could get away with only a tiny rappel or two.  The ice cliff wasn't looking skiable, so I tied into the middle of the rope with a butterfly and led microscopic 16 m pitches, making V-threads for the descent along the way.  Dave followed skilfully with only one ice tool.  Five little pitches made the ice cliff eat a lot of our time.  On our last pitch, I noticed snow loaded onto a little, sixty-degree ramp that made a chink in the ice cliff's armor on climber's left.  It looked like it could be "skied," so I poked at the soft snow and thought we'd give it a go.

The exposed 700 ft above the ice cliff was very icy, but it had a corn-like surface that seemed edgeable.  Dave and I booted across the summit cap, took a short break, and prepared to ski.

The top snow had softened just a bit.  I made a concentrated sideslip down the first steep roll, then Dave followed with a tool in his upper hand for security.  The snow improved a bit and we were able to make careful turns until we reached the ice cliff.  The ramp looked awful steep and scary.

I retrieved one of my ice tools, put it into my upper (right) hand, and kicked some very tentative sidesteps into the ramp to test the snow.  On this northeast aspect, the snow surface had transformed from soft and forgiving to an icy crust.  Midway down the steep ramp, glacier ice lurked just beneath the snow's surface and my ax protocol changed from shaft-plunging to pick-swinging for a couple steps.  Off the ramp, the steep slope was still quite intimidating, being an icy crust, below seracs of the summit ice cliffs , above more ice cliffs over the Roosevelt Glacier. 

For a moment it looked like I had been deceived and that we would be stuck above an ice cliff.  I discovered otherwise after descending to skier's left by mostly sidestepping and sometimes sideslipping, then looking around the corner.  It was just a roll. 

A small, final traverse to skier's left took us below the bottom of the North Ridge ice cliff, onto softer west-facing slopes.  Dave followed carefully, finishing with the comment, "That's the most sidestepping I've ever done."  We cut a wet slide on the steep slope above the Coleman Glacier.  Beatiful steep turns to the bergschrund, a traverse of the Coleman Glacier, and wonderful slush turns in the gullies below the Hogsback took us to timberline and finished the skiing.

Edit: Image from last July - 2006.
« Last Edit: 07/15/07, 10:42 PM by skykilo » Logged
ovrthhills
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #1 on: 07/07/07, 04:17 PM »

Amazing, you are exploring the concept of skis as mountain descending  tools.  Never a dull week. 
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daveb
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #2 on: 07/09/07, 01:47 PM »

Here are a few pics to go with Sky’s TR:

We had the pleasure of climbing on some fantastic alpine ice for five short pitches as mentioned above.  One of them is shown in the first picture. 

The second is of Sky mastering the monkey trick as he descends the key gully on the ice cliff.

Finally, we broke free of trickery and enjoyed great turns on slopes and snow not requiring an ice tool to ski comfortably.


* ice_cliff_-_small.jpg (26.12 KB, 466x350 - viewed 1225 times.)

* monkey_trick_-_small.jpg (29.31 KB, 454x340 - viewed 1245 times.)

* nice_turns_-_small.jpg (25.77 KB, 518x389 - viewed 1220 times.)
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philfort
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #3 on: 07/09/07, 08:03 PM »

You guys are nuts!
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Robyn
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #4 on: 07/09/07, 09:59 PM »

I agree...you guys are crazy. I want to be just like you when I grow up! Grin
Your photos and stories are always so inspiring, it's great to see somebody really pushing the limits of ski mountaineering on some of the mountains that I can see every day!
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jd
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #5 on: 07/10/07, 05:23 AM »

Incredible.

That has got to be one of the most extreme pitches done in the Cascades so far. I'll leave it to Lowell to judge.

I love reading your TRs Sky (better than any of the ski mags). I was going to say I can't imagine doing any of it, but I have a great imagination, so I can feel my blood presure rise just looking at the pictures! Doesn't look like my idea of fun, but people used to think I was nuts soloing easy 5th class rock back in the day, so I understand that difficulty is relative.

Keep up the great work (but don't take it much further man), and stay "safe."
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #6 on: 07/10/07, 10:08 PM »

That has got to be one of the most extreme pitches done in the Cascades so far. I'll leave it to Lowell to judge.

I don't rate them. I just record them.

Conditions are everything, and clearly the ice cliff was different this year than during the July 2000 descent. There was no sidesteppable ramp that year.
« Last Edit: 07/11/07, 04:24 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Jason_H.
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #7 on: 07/10/07, 10:31 PM »

Did I ever tell you Lowell, I was up there the day your brother skied the n ridge (it was my first climb of baker)? I passed him and partner by on the way up and Carl was carrying a lot of gear (like he was apt to do). I didn't realize until I had meet him years later that they were one and the same.

And, of course, nice work Sky and Dave. Smiley
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skykilo
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #8 on: 07/11/07, 11:10 AM »

Conditions are everything, and clearly the ice cliff was different this year than during the July 2000 descent. There was no sidesteppable ramp that year.

Lowell,

I'm not trying to detract from Carl and Rene's descent at all.  Like I said, Dave and I pulled a dumb-monkey trick.  They definitely skied the money shots.  But your statement seems absurd to me.  I've climbed that route three times and I can't say for sure whether there's been a ramp there or not; I didn't look there last time.  I always climbed it farther to the right previously, where it's more vertical.

You do rate them.  You just rated the Y2K North Ridge unsidesteppable.
« Last Edit: 07/11/07, 02:26 PM by skykilo » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #9 on: 07/11/07, 04:47 PM »

I'm not trying to detract from Carl and Rene's descent at all.  Like I said, Dave and I pulled a dumb-monkey trick.  They definitely skied the money shots.  But your statement seems absurd to me.  I've climbed that route three times and I can't say for sure whether there's been a ramp there or not; I didn't look there last time.  I always climbed it farther to the right previously, where it's more vertical.

Good points, Sky. I wasn't with Carl and Rene, so I don't know for sure what the conditions were like for them. I have looked through all of Carl's pictures though, and I know Rene made a half-dozen attempts on the North Ridge before they completed it, so I figured they would have found a lower-angle ramp if there was one. Still, I could be wrong.

You guys definitely hit it perfectly. You took advantage of a good snow year on Baker and found a non-obvious feature to ski. Congratulations on a great descent.

p.s. I deleted my snark about sidestepping. I can see how it might be taken wrong. Your term "dumb-monkey trick" expresses well what a strange game steep skiing can be.

Best regards,
Lowell

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scotteryx
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Re: June 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #10 on: 07/14/07, 12:49 AM »

Did you hit this kicker?
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Life is short, spray hard
daveb
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Re: July 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #11 on: 07/17/07, 04:02 PM »

It was tough to pass on this one


* huck_ice_cliff.jpg (12.35 KB, 350x262 - viewed 640 times.)
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scotteryx
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Re: July 6, 2007, North Ridge, Mt. Baker
« Reply #12 on: 07/18/07, 08:44 AM »

SWEET!
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Life is short, spray hard
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