One day ascent of Northridge - Baker
Failing on this route last year (due to late start and time, we only made it to the base of the first pitch before we bailed), Kevin and I have been trying to get back to "Git'er done".
Kevin had couple friends (Justin and Mike) in town from (NY and Cali) this weekend and was looking for a 4th man to make 2 rope teams of 2. When he asked me if I wanted to come along, I jumped at the idea.
We got started at 3am Saturday morning in drizzly conditions. Weather looked really good by the time we got onto the glaicer but soon after, the clouds rolled in. We waited for 45 min to 1 hour for visibility to improve (lost time!). Just when we thought the conditions improved, the clouds rolled back in. It was frustrating but we had to get moving so we did.
It had snowed anywhere from 6-8 inches on Friday so the glacier was pristine clean. Really felt like winter/spring conditions. We broke trail across the glacier but the going was slow. All 4 of us got on one rope and Kevin and I took turns breaking trail. We punched through couple of times and with variable whiteout conditions, made travelling difficult and dangerous (more wasted time!).
We took the "high" approach to get on the snow slope that leads you to the first ice pitch. This slope was very unconsolidated due to the new snow and made all of us nervous (in fact, this slope and the lower Coleman Headwall released later in the afternoon).
We broke above the clouds at about 8,000 ft and the weather was fantastic at this point. However, it was getting late in the morning, I think around 11am and we were not even at the first ice pitch! We contemplated for 15 minutes of whether to continue or bail. Mike didn't like the idea of downclimbing the slope we just climbed up. We were looking at atleast 3pm summit but the whether was quite good and no wind. We were all tired at this point but we made the decision to continue.
At the base of the ice step, we broke into 2 rope teams. Kevin lead the first pitch with Justin behind him. Good confident sticks, good screw placements, and he was up and over the first ice step. Justin followed him with good confident climbing. I followed their lead and led the same pitch with Mike also doing superb job on the ice behind me.
We encountered route finding issue at the base of the second pitch (more wasted time!). It was early afternoon by this point and we had to get up and over and find the descent route. We found an easy route by going to the right of the second ice step and soon, we were traversing the upper Coleman and onto the summit plateau.
Boring descent down the regular ColemanDeming route and we dragged our bodies back to the car, eventually making it back 18 hours later.
Fun route but very long for a one day ascent. I would definately recommend 2 days. Our biggest challenge was the route finding across the Coleman. It was tricky and took lots of time. Ice is in good shape.
Enjoy the pics.