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July 14, 2001, Mt. Baker summit/Easton-Squak

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by ema on 9/15/02 9:53pm
Well it was my birthday so what better way to celebrate than to go skiing. The weather jockeys said drizzle but I figured any skiing is better than all hiking. The drive on Baker Lake road showed Shuksan in all her glory--so much for accuweather. My third trip up this year via Scott Paul trail as not much left elsewhere. Ninety minutes of pleasant shaded hiking to 4900' (aside: maybe not as good as Davis Peak but...). I booted for awhile longer but one could have put skis on at 5400. Pretty runnelled at first thus the carry. Began skinning at 6000'. Squak definitely showing its cracks and some zig zags necessary. A mountaineering school practicing in the bowl to the side of peak at 6900' (let's just call it Puy de Scott Paul--hey it was Bastille Day). The biggest obstacle of the day was at 8950' if my Suunto was correct (was 20' short at summit). Here one finds a triple crevasse crossing. Doable without rope for now but requires some chutzpah. I deskied but skiied over it coming down. Will require rope when more melt occurs. Base of caldera requires one to stay far right on the boot tracks for the key bridge. Two more openings on the RW require attention. I skinned the whole wall which at times was more difficult but I felt safer than on foot. Disappointed to see no skin track or downhill ski tracks on the Wall. Another attention getting opening forming at the very top of the wall just after going through a rock band (appr 10400).

Summit area quite mild with south wind. Nice view of Shuksan but clouds covering everything else below. Unconsolidated mush with funky crust layer on RW downhill run. Below that aforementioned 8950 crux a wonderful corn carpet presented itself all the way to 5200' with one short deski near the bottom. Not bad in mid July for a 5600' run. Try that on Rainier without risking your life.

My original plan was just a day ski to the caldera but even though I drove up from Seattle that am, had enough energy to summit 215pm. With apologies to Sally Portman, I think I will call it the Birthday Tour--West Slope edition. It ain't over till it's over.

Nick Davies

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2002-09-16 04:53:57