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| |-+  May 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 30-31, 2003, Baker - Squak Glacier
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Author Topic: May 30-31, 2003, Baker - Squak Glacier  (Read 22038 times)
bruce_twito
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May 30-31, 2003, Baker - Squak Glacier
« on: 06/04/03, 04:11 AM »

The weather looked promising, phone calls were made -  the decision to skip work is always difficult until distilled to its essence: Ski or Work? As always, DavyZ and AdamSki were enthusiastic to 'shirk the work' for a ski attempt on Baker.

We decided on Squak glacier from the Schriebers Meadow trailhead and parked along along the road a few hundred yards below the still-snowy parking lot along with 20 or 30 giant snowmobile-laden trucks.  The warm weather led to concerns the looming snowmobiles might tumble on us from their high truckbed mounts, but they seemed stable, so we quickly shot by them to the snow.

We skinned along a roughly-defined trail on a thin thread of snow, taking skis off only once to walk up a 50 foot long muddy patch, then cut through trees to reach the series of rolling hills and clearings starting around 4600ft.  As we left the trees we saw a line of nimbus clouds from the SW.  What the ^#$%^?  I thought the forcast was good?  We continued skiing through slushy snow to a nice, lowish camp at 5600ft, and below Crag View point.  Of course, we didn't have time to finish preparing water and dinner before a few raindrops turned into a light, consistent rain.  After a few choice words about the weather forcaster's parentage, we retired to the tent around 8:30pm.

The 3:30 wakeup to rain turned to a 4:30 wakeup to dense fog, then a 5:15 "Let's go anyway" led to a 6:45 start in dense fog.  We climbed by compass bearings taken the previous evening, map, and GPS to a turn-around decision point at 8500ft where a sucker hole opened up to reveal looming seracs a few hundred feet uphill.  Rope!

Our dogheadedness about continuing payed off when the fog opened up at 9000ft to reveal blue skies and a beautiful snowy wonderland.

We continued through soft, deep mushy snow, and skirted below the caldera ridge to the climber's right of Roman Wall. The route was free of cracks- no seperation zone (yet), no bergschrund (yet).  On to the summit dome, then the true summit.  Below- clouds with the magnificent higher peaks jutting through.

We unroped for the ski down, having marked the three cravasses-of-minor-concern.  The steeper slopes to the SE of Roman Wall were a bit avie-scary, with 12" of mush on top of a pretty hard layer, but there was a slight crust on top that helped stability of the uppermost layer.  Maybe it will consolidate and never slide?

The expected mushy ski down Squak turned out to be excellent... we cut 10 inch furrowed turns, whooping and taking pictures all the way down to camp where the sun had burned away the fog.

Skiing down the bobsled run through trees was 'interesting'.  I couldn't bear to remove my skis until I hit the car:



I would recommend the Squak Glacier as a great ski route- it is in fine shape.  As always, glacier travel experience and equipment required...


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Darren J
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Re: May 30-31, 2003, Baker - Squak Glacier
« Reply #1 on: 06/05/03, 08:52 AM »

  Nice trip.  We were the group you passed at 8500 feet, just before the cravasses.  Those peeks at the sun made the difference for us as well.
 I must thank you for cutting the track from there!  Two of our group roped up and followed you for a great summit.  We avoided some of the weather of the previous night by climbing the whole mountain in one day, starting at 3am.
 Great turns all the way down.
 We missed the Paul Scott Trail on the pre-dawn start, however.  Any tips on finding that from the sign board and the direction it goes initially?
 By the way, I think one of you lost a knife on the way up.  Describe it and let me know where to send it if you want it back.
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bruce_twito
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Re: May 30-31, 2003, Baker - Squak Glacier
« Reply #2 on: 06/06/03, 12:35 PM »

It turned out to be a great day- and you made quite a Herculean effort to make the entire climb in a single push- congratulations!  We were happy to see you guys forging on.

DavyZ did lose his knife off his rack... I don't know what it looks like, but I called him to let him know you found it and he'll probably post a followup.  He owes you a beer for finding it, so I wouldn't just settle for mailing it away ;-).  Thanks.

The trail we took can be found by continuing straight ahead as the road passes the outhouses.  It takes a right switchback at around 3400ft- just above the parking lot- and continues switching back a couple of times through the drainage above the parking lot.  We kept to the ridgeline, although the trail eventually leads NE of the lot.

If you wanted to find it for sure with a little bushwacking (or as Lowell Skoog names it: subalpinism), follow a 320 degree heading from the parking lot.  The trail cut at 3400 ft is unmistakable when you cross it, within .1 miles.  And the little lonesome trees (including alders - my personal favorite) will welcome your presence.

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