ApproachI liked this route because (after 1 km) it was truly wild - no signs, no use trails, no fire rings... nada. It was challenging and beautiful.
This route is closed except from December 15 to July 1 each year, for the sake of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep. Since the west side of the mountain is now open for the same time slot, this route will probably become obsolete. It will be much easier to hump over Baxter pass and climb it from Baxter lake, up the SW slope.
Your climb will be greatly affected by the condition of the snow. I did it May 30-June 1, 2003, a low snow year, but there was still enough snow to cover the worst of the scree.
From Baxter Pass trailhead. Take the trail no further than about 1 kilometer at the first stream crossing. Kiss the trail goodbye. Basically, follow the (unnamed) north fork of the North Fork of Oak Creek (drainage from lake 3200+ meters). The trick was to stay high on the North side of the canyon, between about 2200 and 2400 meters, I think. We were lucky to find a straightforward route here, but there was still a lot of bushwhacking and stream crossings to go. Most of this portion, from the Baxter Pass trail to the tree-line, is much more difficult than the "classic bushwhack" up George Creek.
We camped at the top of the tree line. Nice spot, but no water - I daypacked a few gallons of water down from the little lake at 3200 meters. Our camp was at 3100 meters elevation. It took us over 8 hours to get there at a moderate pace. It might be nicer to camp near the tiny lake above.
Route DescriptionSee full sized map and photos at http://community.webshots.com/album/75994671ExZfNa , or if that link fails, see the “Mount Baxter, June 2003" folder at http://community.webshots.com/user/langenbacher
From the lake at 3200 meters ascend chutes to the ridge east of the summit. SEE MY MAP, but remember, it is NOT exact.
I could see pretty clearly from the vicinity of the lake at 3200 meters, that one chute ascended all the way to the east ridge of Baxter, with nothing but snow and scree between us and the top of it. When you get just above the lake, take a good look - as you get closer parts of the route will be obscured. When we got to the base of this chute it was still shaded from the sun, and it was steep, hard snow - go this way if you can, and you will avoid possible class 3 rock. We took the next chute beyond it, which was a nice alternative. It was maybe about 40 degrees, but sunnier and a little softer. We had crampons and ice axes, and kicked steps and zig-zagged up 100-200 meters of elevation. But, that chute would have ended in steep rock walls, so we got out (to the right) and ascended the rib between the 2 chutes. I wanted to go down immediately from the rib into the lower chute before going up to the ridge, which would have worked, but the leader chose to go sort of straight up through steep rock which was loose in places. I thought it was class 3, but others disagreed, saying it was only class 2. I was uncomfortable and took longest to get through it. It was OK and we soon made the ridge and then it was a piece of cake to the summit. On the way back, we went down the ridge, past our up-route, and on down to the lower chute, which turned out quite nicely. After quickly crossing the snow and scree through the top part of the chute, it was a joyous glissade for about 400 meters elevation loss. I did the slide in 5-10 minutes.