Note: This trip report is part of the TetonAT Trip Report Contest. Mike is now in the running to win a FREE pair of Black Diamond skis based on viewer response and the TetonAT panel of judges! Good luck Mike!!
It is September first, 2am in the morning, and I do not want to be up. I am still beyond tired from a four hour suffer fest from the previous days mountain bike ride. In a daze, I fall back to sleep. Then the phone rings at 5am, it is my brother Andy.
”Still pumped to ski/climb Mount Baker?”
“We’re running a little late. Looks like the weather should hold for a summit bid, we’re going to be cutting it close.”
Booting up the Coleman Glacier.
By 5’45, we’re off for the two hour drive. Once at the Mount Baker parking lot, I am a little apprehensive as the weather looks a little dicey. With gear on our backs, we start hiking up the trail at 8’10am. After an hour and half, we are at the toe of the Coleman Glacier. We now transition to ropes, harnesses and crampons for a thousand feet of climbing, and then it was skins and skis on.
Oh, I forgot people were giving us the usual hard time about ski gear on the hike up. Reminds of the days when I started skateboarding and mountain biking in the early eighties. I pretty much got treated like a subhuman. That is how it felt anyway. Now the masses are involved so it makes it okay! I have a passion for the mountains and high places, which is all that matters. Do not judge. I am happy just to see people out there! Oh sorry, off subject. So we continued on diligently. The glacier is like a puzzle or maze. Even with a track set you have to be exact with your route finding.
At 9000′, the weather was kind of a mixed bag. Andy and I had a little pow-wow. Should we keep going or turn back. Apprehensive, Andy persuaded me to keep going. A few teams had turned back already. With my nerves at a maximum on the roman headwall, I noticed there was blue ice underneath the two inches of new snow. I ponder…wow, we have to ski down this. With crampons on and skis on our backs, we reach the summit in a near whiteout,6 hours after we started. So we ski back to begin our descent down the Roman Headwall.
Not going to happen with the way the sky looked ,so we transitioned back to crampons and skis on our backs, and carefully down climb the headwall. We are now in a full snowstorm at the 9000ft point of the Coleman Glacier. Yup, they have there own weather system in the Cascades. After twenty minutes of storming, we get a small break in weather, and I am able to just make out our intended descent route. So now it is rope up, or not rope up for the ski down. We decide with the unpredictable weather, speed and visibility is our friend, so we chose to ski unroped down the glacier. To our amazement, the skiing although tense, was fantastic due to the fact it snowed for an hour or two. A taste of powder in September, a surprise gift!
Getting airborne during a descent of the Coleman Glacier, Mount Baker.
Back to the toe of the glacier, it was high fives for another fun adventure in the mountains. Back on firm soil, and hiking shoes on, it was a quick jaunt back to the car for reflection and beer. Not too much beer as we still had to cross the US boarder back to Canada.
Hiking off Mount baker in classic Pacific Northwest weather.