July 5, 2002, Heliotrope Ridge-Coleman Gl., Baker

7/5/02
WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
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Posted by Charles on 9/10/02 9:32pm
By prior arrangement, I met TOMSKI at the Heliotrope trailhead; Tom is on a 3 week PNW ski pilgrimage, and was spending several days skiing around Mt. Baker after several at Mt. Rainier. The trail had only small patches of snow before it disappeared at treeline at about 4900'. We followed a nice boot track up onto the Coleman under sunny skies, with a trace of new snow deepening to about 1/2" at 6500'. The underlying snow was very well frozen, and a climbing party said there was more new snow up higher, from squalls the previous day. We started skinning about 6500', and the new snow deepened to about 1" at 7000' and 4" above 8000'. We followed the boot track to the ridge between the Coleman and Deming Glaciers, stopping at about 9200'. Climbers coming down the Roman Wall were proceeding very cautiously, and it appeared that most of the new snow had not stuck on that slope, creating very firm conditions.

After lunch we skied back down the up track in the best July ski conditions I think I have ever had. The new snow remained loose and powdery down to about 7000', and was fast and very smooth. Below 7000' the day's warmth had begun to melt the new snow and soften the underlying old snow, but the skiing stayed fast, smooth, and very enjoyable to the base of the last steeper drop off of the glacier. We skied down toward the trail just to skier's left of the up track, and were able to keep skis on all the way to the trail at 4900' with one short stretch of all-terrain skiing across some grass; the last 500' or so became fairly runneled in places, but was soft enough to still provide decent skiing. A fantastic day and a 4300' run.

There are photos from this trip here.

Charles

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Charles
2002-09-11 04:32:25