More on my websiteThis trip report is copied from my website, which has several other climbing trip reports and photographs from the North Cascades and elsewhere: www.stephabegg.com.
A great choice for the day's weather and conditions
• • • The Route • • •
As winter 2011 neared and the North Cascades began to put on their gleaming white coats, I had been able to get out and enjoy a series of Saturday adventures. Although unintended, over the last few weekends each subsequent summit had progressed northward, from Evergreen (HWY 2) to Vesper (Mountain Loop Highway) to Ruby (HWY 20). It had been a great mix of snow-capped views. Now that it was the last weekend before winter officially began, it made sense to head northward one final notch. The destination: Mt. Ann near the Mount Baker Ski area (Hwy 542).
Mt. Ann is the widely accepted toponym for an unofficially named outlier summit located a few miles south of Shuksan Arm. Sandwiched between Mt. Shuksan and Mount Baker, the views (if you can see them of course) are some of the best to be had. Mt. Ann can be climbed year-round. In winter it's an excellent day-trip ski or snowshoe tour, especially considering its proximity to Mt. Baker Ski Area. It is most commonly approached from the north (i.e. from the ski area), but there is also a trail up the south side from Baker Lake. Note that the slopes of Mt. Ann have some avalanche potential, so it should only be climbed when the conditions are stable.
Shortly before sunrise, Brian and I arrived at the upper parking lot (4270') of the Mt. Baker Ski area. We strapped on snowshoes, and off we went, heading towards Austin Pass (4770'). The route descends the south side of the pass for about 800 vertical feet before making a long traverse southeastward. This section brought back memories of approaching the Fischer Chimneys route on Mt. Shuksan with my sister Jenny in late June of 2006. In fact, the ice axe that I had brought with me for Mt. Ann was the very axe that I had found near the summit of Mt. Shuksan; it had never been claimed, although I still hold out hopes that someday I will learn the story behind this climber-less axe.
At about 3 miles from the car (at about the location of the buried junction with the Swift Creek Trail) we turned southward and headed towards Mt. Ann's north basin. The 5860' summit is clearly visible on the right. We headed for the ridge to the east of the summit, removing and reputting our snowshoes a few times as we dealt with a fascinating mix of snow conditions. There was even some ice on the windy ridge. At 11:06, just under 4 hours since leaving the car, we were on the summit! It was pretty windy, so we didn't hang out too long before heading back down. The heavy snow was more conducive to sticking then glissading, so we just booted it down, enjoying a peek-a-boo Shuksan show as we descended.
Mt. Ann is a great choice for a weather-change a day like we had. It was a good day. After all, any day spent in the mountains is a good day.
A map showing our GPS track for the route is given above.
Elevation gain: 3200’ (500 feet from car to Austin Pass + 1900 ft from Swift Creek to summit + 800 feet back to pass on return)
Ascent: 3 hours 56 min, Descent: 3 hours 6 min, Total car-to-car: 7 hours 16 min
- 5:30 am: Met in Sedro-Woolley
- 7:00 am: Arrived at upper parking lot at Mt. Baker Ski area (4270')
- 7:10 am: Started snowshoeing
- 7:40 am: Reached Austin Pass (4770')
- 7:55 am: Sunrise
- 11:06 am: Summit (5860')
- 11:20 am: Began descent
- 2:26 pm: Arrived at car
- 4:11 pm: Sunset