Having seen the white snowcap of Mount Baker in the far north of Washington State, I was very keen on climbing it, and delighted to meet Markian at the Climbing Partners forum
who also was eager to do it single-push. We decided to take the popular Coleman - Upper Deming Glacier
route (from the NW), suspecting that the snow on the Easton Glacier
route (from the S) might already become be too soft during the day.
Markian drove from Bent, OR to Bellevue, WA from where we continued together in my rental car. We arrived at the trailhead early enough to admire the alpenglow on the mountain before taking a few hours of sleep at the car park. Since we started climbing at about 1 AM an there was no moonlight, it was very dark for the first three hours. We had to cross several river beds where in total we lost about 40 minutes scouting for the continuation of the trail. Even worse, we were unable to find the turnoff to the right approximately 2.25 miles from the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead (or half a mile up the trail from the site of Kulshan Cabin
at 4700 ft, which we did not see either). Would have been very helpful to know at which elevation to expect it - namely 5000 ft. Instead, we hit Coleman Glacier earlier and more to the northeast than normal, which provided us with some challenge negotiating the crevasses at around 6000 - 7000 ft. In this area, Markian had to throw up because he was overstrained, but luckily he did not give up and became better quickly. At 8 AM and at almost 8000 ft, we finally hit the usual boot path on the top fringe of Coleman Glacier. Along the pumice ridge and on the steep snowfield, the so-called Roman Wall, the path became relatively crowded. Around 10:45 AM we reached the summit. Even at the elevation of 3285m, it was pretty calm and warm. Our descent, starting at 11:30 AM, was quick (4 hours in total, involving at lot of glissading) and uneventful. The contrast between the wildflowers in full bloom and the vast snow- and icefields above it was wonderful.
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