One of the more mellow approaches for a technical climb of itskind. A couple of stream crossings are mentioned in the guidebooks,but are usually tame. See Getting There on main page, and also on the Coleman Deming page. The 6000 ft camp (Hog back camp) is arguably the mostconvenient one for doing the North Ridge. Even with overnight gear,one can make this camp in 2-2.5 hrs from the trailhead (~1.5 hrswithout overnight gear). Nelson and Potterfield suggest amuch higher time for this approach.From this lower camp at 6000 ft, it is usually possible to go straightup (south) to a relatively flat spot on the Coleman Glacier at 6500ft. One could also camp here (i.e., on the glacier). Rather thanfollow the usual track of the CD route (which goes by the 7200 ftcamp), one could cut left (East) from the 6500 ft spot and startheading towards the base of the North Ridge. When we did the route inAugust 07, there was a pretty straightforward path that avoided mostcrevasses all the way to under the base of the right entrance gully(so, stay at 6500 ft - resist the temptation to cut up highearly). Nelson and Potterfield suggest another higher approach, but itcould be more broken up later in the season. To make things moreinteresting, and to practise your glacier navigation skills, cut leftand up from the 6000 ft camp!
If you want to make the climb even more interesting (and more"complete"), you could start from the Northern tip of the ColemanGlacier and head straight up, navigating through crevasses. To do thisvariation, keep straight on the Heliotrope Ridge trail (the main trailfrom the trailhead) at the junction where the climber's trail branchesright. Camp at the toe of the glacier, and head straight up (South).Rope up for the glacier. The crevasses are numerous, and huge atseveral places. You might want to wait until it is a little light out(4 am?) before starting the glacier traverse - it helps to see thecrevasses.
The ice lobe coming down the North Ridge is obvious to see, and youare headed to the bottom of the same. There are two ways to getthere. The right entrance gully is visible as you approach, and is thequicker option but is steeper and has more danger of rockfall. Theleft ramp (second option) is gained by contouring around the base ofthe Ridge proper. There could be a moat/bergschrund to deal with atthe base of either gully/ramp, especially later in the season. In2007, the left ramp melted out earlier, and hence most teams weretaking the higher, right gully later in the season. The sun does nothit this ramp until quite late in the day (11 am or noon-ish), butstill it is a good idea to climb through this gully early in theday. Use the numerous tracks created by the rockfall as steps!!
The gully is typically snow/neve, but things usually get icier higherup. As you approach the ice cliff, veer left towards the edge on steep(40-45 degree) ice. Set up a belay at the base of the ice cliff(screws later in the season). Climb up and over the ice cliff to gainthe North Ridge proper. If you're a hardman, you can climb vertical,or even overhanging ice further to the right, making it a longer pitchas well. Either way, you will have to climb a full rope-length (60 m),protecting with screws. Belay your partner(s) up. The angle easesafter the full pitch, and depending on the comfort level of the party,the team could simul-climb from here to access the upper parts of theglacier coming down from the summit plateau.
One usually has to veer left at the top to avoid a huge body ofseracs. Depending on conditions, you might have to go through a"secret passage" in between a crevasse and a huge ice shelf! Avoidcrevasses further up, and gain the summit plateau.
Descend the Coleman Deming route.
60 m rope (doubles if climbing in a team of 3), two ice tools perperson, 5-7 screws, 2-3 pickets are required per team. Take morescrews and one less picket later in the season.
Best months to climb this route are May to August. AAI guides a lot onBaker, including the North Ridge. One of the guides whom we met on themountain told us that the ice cliff is apparently most icy in late Mayand June. The sun apparently makes it more mellow by August. In thatcase, the approach would probably be more straightforward as well -there should be more snow in May/June (be careful on the snow bridgesthough!).Since the approach is quite chill, this route can be done car-to-carstarting real early from the trailhead. Strap on the skis for a quickdescent down the CD in the early season, if you're into that kind oftravel.