North Ridge

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 48.77750°N / 121.8119°W
Route Type: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing
Season: Spring, Summer
Time Required: One to two days
Difficulty: glacier travel, ice up to 60-70 degrees, grade III+
Grade: III


One of the more mellow approaches for a technical climb of its
kind. A couple of stream crossings are mentioned in the guidebooks,
but are usually tame. See Getting There on main page, and also on the
CD page. The 6000 ft camp (Hog back camp) is arguably the most
convenient 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 hrs
without overnight gear). Nelson and Potterfield suggest a
much higher time for this approach.

From this lower camp at 6000 ft, it is usually possible to go straight
up (south) to a relatively flat spot on the Coleman Glacier at 6500
ft. One could also camp here (i.e., on the glacier). Rather than
follow the usual track of the CD route (which goes by the 7200 ft
camp), one could cut left (East) from the 6500 ft spot and start
heading towards the base of the North Ridge. When we did the route in
August 07, there was a pretty straightforward path that avoided most
crevasses all the way to under the base of the right entrance gully
(so, stay at 6500 ft - resist the temptation to cut up high
early). Nelson and Potterfield suggest another higher approach, but it
could be more broken up later in the season. To make things more
interesting, and to practise your glacier navigation skills, cut left
and 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 Coleman
Glacier and head straight up, navigating through crevasses. To do this
variation, keep straight on the Heliotrope Ridge trail (the main trail
from the trailhead) at the junction where the climber's trail branches
right. Camp at the toe of the glacier, and head straight up (South).

Rope up for the glacier. The crevasses are numerous, and huge at
several places. You might want to wait until it is a little light out
(4 am?) before starting the glacier traverse - it helps to see the

Route Description

The ice lobe coming down the North Ridge is obvious to see, and you
are headed to the bottom of the same. There are two ways to get
there. The right entrance gully is visible as you approach, and is the
quicker option but is steeper and has more danger of rockfall. The
left ramp (second option) is gained by contouring around the base of
the Ridge proper. There could be a moat/bergschrund to deal with at
the base of either gully/ramp, especially later in the season. In
2007, the left ramp melted out earlier, and hence most teams were
taking the higher, right gully later in the season. The sun does not
hit this ramp until quite late in the day (11 am or noon-ish), but
still it is a good idea to climb through this gully early in the
day. Use the numerous tracks created by the rockfall as steps!!

The gully is typically snow/neve, but things usually get icier higher
up. 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 gain
the North Ridge proper. If you're a hardman, you can climb vertical,
or even overhanging ice further to the right, making it a longer pitch
as well. Either way, you will have to climb a full rope-length (60 m),
protecting with screws. Belay your partner(s) up. The angle eases
after 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 the
glacier coming down from the summit plateau.

One usually has to veer left at the top to avoid a huge body of
seracs. Depending on conditions, you might have to go through a
"secret passage" in between a crevasse and a huge ice shelf! Avoid
crevasses further up, and gain the summit plateau.

Descend the CD route.

Essential Gear

60 m rope (doubles if climbing in a team of 3), two ice tools per
person, 5-7 screws, 2-3 pickets are required per team. Take more
screws and one less picket later in the season.

Miscellaneous Info

Best months to climb this route are May to August. AAI guides a lot on
Baker, including the North Ridge. One of the guides whom we met on the
mountain told us that the ice cliff is apparently most icy in late May
and June. The sun apparently makes it more mellow by August. In that
case, the approach would probably be more straightforward as well -
there should be more snow in May/June (be careful on the snow bridges

Since the approach is quite chill, this route can be done car-to-car
starting real early from the trailhead. Strap on the skis for a quick
descent down the CD in the early season, if you're into that kind of

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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StephaneFitch - Jul 28, 2004 2:33 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

You'll need ice screws for a bit of running protection to get past the small ice cliff at the top of the North Ridge route.

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