Coleman-Deming on Mt Baker (August 7-8, 2002)

We wanted to try the N ridge on Baker. Rumor had it that access to the ridge was complicated, but we thought we'd try anyway. We first tried to get over the Coleman at a very low point (~5000 ft) but it looked pretty ugly down there. It might go if you can make it over to the cleaver separating it from the Roosevelt, but who knows. So we headed up the usual way and looked for a crossing around 6500 ft. We made it to about halfway and could see boot tracks going across. It "looked" like it would go, but you never know. By this time it was getting late (didn't leave the car til about 2pm) and we were all hungry and a bit discouraged. So we decided to head back to the west side of the coleman and make camp. We found nice spots around 7000 ft near the buttes. After eating we decided that it was probably best to bag it and just do the casual route.

We were moving at 5am the next morning in perfect conditions. Great cramponing all the way to the summit (about 6-8 inches fresh snow up top). We summited by about 8:30. We avoided big slots near the top of the Coleman on the left. A half hour on the summit and 2 more brought us back to camp for a 6 hour round trip.

All in all, a great climb with great folks and my first time on and up Baker!

For future N Ridge reference: crossing the glacier as described in CAG (~6500 ft) seems like the best way, especially in early season. The variation route described in the CAG (snowfield to gain the ridge near 8800 ft) seemed reasonable too, but more exposed to rockfall. I'd also forget the carryover idea, and just do it from a "high" camp at about 6000 ft. Spend part of the first day scoping out the glacier crossing so you can do it in poor light, and plan on hitting the ridge at first light, and getting up through the steep sections early. Car to car also seems doable, but hitting it from a camp saves you the 2+ miles of trail and about 2000 ft of elevation. It also gives you a chance to spy the route in the daytime...


Standard glacier travel stuff.