The ClimbJack and I had the 4th off work and were anxious to eliminate Baker N Ridge off of our respective tick lists. As the day rolled around though, Jack had slept well under ten hours in the last 48, I had slept little more, and neither of us was sure we were up to the task. Contingency plan? Blitz the Coleman-Deming!
We arrived at the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead at 9:45pm July 3rd, we started hiking at 10:20pm. We stopped halfway up the Hogsback moraine at ~11:30pm and admired the lights of Vancouver and Surrey B.C. Conditions on the glacier were good, we were glad to be there at night while things were “cold” (~50 degrees) and the snow was “hard”. We crossed 5 or 6 open crevasses, we had to end run two (follow the new bootpacks going around these). We started to feel the altitude/lack of sleep/abundance of physical labor about halfway up the Roman Wall, the next team was at least an hour and half out so we had the summit to ourselves as we topped out at 6:30am. The mini-schrund is starting to open, as are a few other crevasses on the Roman Wall, don’t follow the flags, I probed a 1’ x 1’ x 35’ deep hole but was able to probe around and find solid ice to cross, we went around climber’s right on the way back, I suggest further parties do the same, especially after 6:00am. .
The view wasn’t as spectacular as it usually is. To the South black clouds whispered, “get the hell out of here” and obscured Glacier Peak and Rainier, bummer. Shuksan was out in full though, looking quite formidable and fashionable with its stormy background. Jack was a bit cold and the weather wasn’t looking good so we high-tailed it down the Roman Wall, instead of shooting off our roman candles as planned. Halfway down the pumice ridge it started to hail on us, so we upped the pace. I think the next team made it but everyone else on the CD was shut down by thundershowers.
As we passed the saddle dark curtains of intense rain were apparently waiting for us in the valley bellow. Unfortunately for us, their friends behind the Black Buttes had no such intention of waiting and promptly dumped rain and rapid burst lightning on us. So we pretty much ran like hell, I was already worried about the stream crossings. We made it from the Saddle to the moraine in about an hour (we caught the skiers who passed us about 500 feet below the saddle) but not before I botched a crevasse jumping and popped through to the waste, the bridges are very soft after 8:00am). Glad to have not been barbequed cascade style and sopping wet we hoofed as fast as our plastic booted feet would tolerate, making it to the car at 10:45am July 4th.
Car to Car: 12.5 hours
After a well deserved nap, a few beers, and some other condiments, I watched the Bellingham fireworks show and reflected on a hell of day.
Glacier Condition (7/4/06)Good snow at night, very slushy by mid-morning, patches or hard ice here and there.
Crevasses are opening up, but route is still doesn’t wind much.
Roman Wall was a mix of medium soft snow and hard ice (crampons, the schrund is starting to open up
Good, easy to follow bootpack
Creek crossings not a problem