Home > Trip Reports > May 14, 2010, Mt Baker, Easton Glacier

May 14, 2010, Mt Baker, Easton Glacier

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by Amar Andalkar on 5/14/10 1:51pm
Another magnificent day out in the Pacific Northwest mountains, with another complete ski ascent and ski descent of a major Cascade volcano. Making last minute plans late the night before, three of us (Paresh, Collin, and I) headed for the south side of Mount Baker, hoping to find sunshine, stable conditions, and corn snow. And we found all three. In addition, I managed to skin continuously all the way from the bumper of our car parked at 3100 ft up to the 10781 ft summit of Mount Baker, and then ski continuously all the way back to the car. Can't beat that, SO nice!

The road is driveable to within about 1/2 mile of the trailhead, and deep continuous snow extends from this point on up the entire road. A 3:30am departure from Seattle had us skinning up from the car just before 7am. Despite a free-air freezing level near 8000 ft, the clear night allowed radiational cooling to solidly freeze the snowpack even down at 3000 ft, making for quick and easy travel in the morning hours on nicely frozen snow. The snowmobile highway still provides the quickest access to the alpine, with a firm surface of old snomo tracks up to about 5000 ft. Very few snowmobiles out there today (Friday) and no problems or annoyance, we heard them only in the far distance starting around 10am, and the only close encounter was two of them passing us as we skied down the snomo highway back to the trailhead at day's end.

The snowpack is becoming well-consolidated on the south side of Baker, and we skinned up past 9000 ft on a supportive base with no trail breaking needed, easy travel on a surface of very grippy frozen corn snow, softening nicely in the morning sun. Crevasse issues are minimal as of yet, with everything along the standard Easton route being still solidly filled-in with few sags or open crevasses visible. Above 9000 ft and on the Roman Wall up to 10500 ft, the snowpack is still transitioning from the recent wintry snowfall, which has compacted into 6-8" of proto-corn atop a firm crust, well-bonded and very stable. Breaking trail on skins from the crater rim (9700 ft) up the Roman Wall was quite easy around 1pm, requiring minimal effort to put in a deep solid track in the sun-softened snow with only 3 switchbacks up the entire face. Atop the summit dome, the snow is firm wintry windpack with areas of moderate sastrugi.

We topped out after 2pm, in an increasing SW breeze on the summit dome which became a very cold 30-40 mph gale atop the true summit of Grant Peak. No time to linger, and too cold. The skiing on the summit dome was OK on the firm windpack, but as soon as we dropped below 10500 ft onto the steepening Roman Wall, the snow became very nice, with easy turns in the well-softened proto-corn. Good to excellent snow conditions continued down to 6000 ft, with vast fields of corn including extensive acres of firnspiegel. The snow became very slow and grippy below 6000, still skiable though since we were not sinking in much at all. Below 5000 ft past the toe of the Easton Glacier, it was fastest and best to just ski down along the snomo tracks and then eventually rejoin the highway back to the trailhead, which was slow going on soft sticky slush. We skied out to the car just before 4pm, elated with a fine ski descent of 7700 vert with mostly good to great snow conditions.

Other trips during this week:

Glad to see you're getting all these great summits Amar!  I was staring out the office windows downtown looking at Baker wondering if I knew anyone up there.

I hear ya Dave.  Guess what I'm doing today?  That's right, working.  And, here it is 8:30 on a Sunday morning!

Way to be getting after it Amar.

Nice TR Amar. You serve up some of the best ones around. Skied the Easton yesterday in similar conditions. We tried to drop in on the Park Headwall but couldn't commit to a second turn (twice!) due to firm/icy conditions. We did ski the upper Roosevelt in a mixture of powder turning to windblown ice. The south side was definitely the best skiing...Stacy got a paraglider flight from the crater, and high speed sled laps on the Easton were a treat! Snow remained good down to 6k for the duration of the day. We left the mtn. at 530 pm. Parking will prob. be at the same location for a bit, as snowpack gains depth quickly.

Thanks again Amar.  It was a lot of fun to share a few of your spring turns this week!

I put some photos up on Picasa



Wow! great trip report and pics.  We tried same Easton approach on Sat night / Sun morning and didn't make it to the top but enjoyed the great weather and similar skinning and skiing conditions that you and TobyT reported.

TobyT, I am pretty sure I ran into you and Stacy as you were finishing/loading up we were just showing up in my friends truck.  I don't think many others were paragliding that day!  It was our first time on Baker and you and Stacy's advice/info was helpful as we made our way up the mountain so thanks to both of you.

Thanks for the details Amar!  I thought the conditions might be better higher up.  If the snow continues to fall in such light quantities, that proto-corn could be true corn by July! ; )

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Amar Andalkar
2010-05-14 20:51:57