The Mt. Baker North Ridge is one of top 5 classic ice routes in the lower 48 states and one of the 50 classic climbs of North America. Standing at 10,781 feet, Mount Baker is the third highest peak in the State of Washington. This route is a super classic.
The Mt. Baker North Ridge climb is one of the 50 classic climbs of North America - for good reason. Standing at 10,781 feet, Mt. Baker is the third highest peak in the State of Washington. It is very glaciated with some of its glaciers dropping below 4,000 feet. The Baker North Ridge is one of top 5 classic ice routes in the lower 48 states. We'll cross the Coleman Glacier at first light to get to the base of the route. We then climb 50 degree snow and ice to reach ice pitches (steepness up to 70 degrees), and then you get to climb more 50 degree snow and ice to reach the summit. The Mount Baker North Ridge is a high quality classic ice route from the start to the end.
Overall Difficulty: difficult
Skills: Mountaineering and ice climbing experience required
Fitness Level: excellent
The Baker North Ridge is rated a Grade III+ or IV depending on conditions. It involves substantial glacier travel, crampon front pointing and some moderately steep ice climbing.
You should have glacier travel experience and solid cramponing skills. Continuous movement in exposed terrain should not be a problem. Elementary rope handling skills such as tying in, rappelling and belaying are required.
Excellent physical fitness is required. You should be able to hike or climb for 6 to 10 hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 pounds and ascend 4,000 to 5,000 feet of vertical gain per day for several days.
Day 1: From the ranger station in Glacier, WA we will commute together to the end of the road at 3600 feet (Heliotrope Ridge trailhead). A two to three hour hike will bring us through spectacular old growth forest to about 5000 feet. From here we leave the well maintained hiking trail and head up the steep climbers trail past the Hogsback climbers camp at 6000 feet. We have the option of camping here or to continue another hour to the spectacular camp on Heliotrope Ridge at around 7000 feet. Either one will put us in a great position for our summit day the next day.
Day 2: It’s definitely a pre-dawn start. It takes about 2 hours to make it across the Coleman Glacier. Depending on the condition of the glacier, this can be very easy or quite adventurous. From the base of the route at around 8000 feet, we ascend the “access slopes” either on the west side of the North Ridge proper or climb up the Roosevelt Glacier until we can access the Mount Baker North Ridge proper between 8300 and 9000 feet. The crux ice pitches are encountered at 9500 feet. The setting of these pitches is hard to surpass. You will be climbing high above the Roosevelt Glacier Cirque in perfect glacier ice. Unforgettable! Above the ice pitches more moderate snow and ice pitches (up to 50 degrees) will provide more entertainment. The slope angle eases off at around 10'000 feet below the summit ice cap. Generally we cruise through this section via the summit slopes of the Roosevelt Glacier. From here it is not far to the top at 10,781 feet. The way off the mountain is quite easy via the standard Coleman Deming Glacier route and we should be back in camp in the middle of the afternoon. The work is done and we can enjoy a beautiful evening from camp. Views include our route, the Puget Sound, and the sprawling nightlights of Vancouver.
Day 3: After a leisurely breakfast we pack up camp, descend down to the Lower Camps and ice climb a couple hours on our way out. Depending on weather conditions we might also switch the order of day two and three.
We will be climbing on the north side of Mount Baker, mainly on the Coleman Glacier.
Yes, the lower Coleman Glacier is probably on the best spots for summer ice climbing in the lower 48 states and we intend to take advantage of it!
No you are responsible for your own food. We are glad to help with food suggestions, though!
Try to fit your gear into a 50 liter pack or bring a smaller pack for summit day.
Although tipping is not a requirement, it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or a flat amolunt that you are comfortable with.