At 10,781 feet, Mount Baker, or Komo Kulshan (the “Great White Watcher”) is one of the most picturesque volcanoes of the Cascade Range. It is the ideal location for aspiring ski mountaineers, and those who want to explore skiing on glaciated peaks. It is the second most glaciated mountain in the Lower 48 States, exceeded only by Mount Rainier, and its ice-covered pyramid is an iconic sight rising in the distance above Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Mount Baker regularly receives some of the deepest annual snowfall in the country, including a world record 95 feet in 1998. As the third highest mountain in Washington State and the fifth highest peak in the Cascades, it is a fantastic objective for those seeking a challenging objective in a pristine alpine environment. Our expert guides will set a skin track up to high camp on the first day. That night you will learn the essentials for roped glacier travel, and how to use your ski mountaineering gear efficiently. The following morning you will begin your tour onto the glacier and towards the summit of Mount Baker if conditions allow. From the summit, you will enjoy nearly a vertical mile of skiing, back down to camp and out to the trailhead.
Easton Glacier • 2 Day Ascent
To maximize your chances of success, Northwest Alpine Guides will select one of two standard routes on Mount Baker based on mountain conditions at the time of your climb. We will climb either the Coleman Deming Route from the north side of the mountain, or the Easton Glacier Route on the peak’s southern flanks. These routes are similar in length, elevation gain and difficulty. Both are excellent training grounds for roped glacier travel and offer incredible ski descents. Our professional guides will teach you the skills you will need for a safe and successful uphill climb and downhill ski.
We meet at the Guide Hut in Sedro-Woolley for an equipment check and orientation on the first morning of the climb, and then make our way to the trailhead. From there, we will put on our skins and skis from the cars, and begin our ascent to high camp. Once you are settled into camp, your guides will go through a series of educational lessons to include the use of boot crampons, ski crampons, roped uphill travel, navigating various terrain, ice axes and self arrest. On Day two, we wake early for our summit bid. From the summit, we will transition to downhill skiing, and enjoy world class turns on our way back down to camp. After a break at camp, we will pack our equipment and ski down to the trailhead.
The approach to the Easton Glacier begins among the blueberry bushes of Schriebers Meadow, leads over ice-fed creeks and through old growth forest before reaching snow via a sharp ridge called the Railroad Grade. High camp is in a wonderful location at the 6,000 feet of elevation near the toe of the glacier. The southern summit climb offers a more gradual glacial ascent to the lip of Sherman Crater, and then continues up the Roman Wall.
The northern Coleman Deming Route offers a slightly shorter skin to high camp with less elevation gain than the southern approach. High camp is located above the Hogsback Ridge at the edge of the Coleman Glacier at 6,000 feet. The shorter approach makes the summit day route slightly longer and steeper. We ascend the Coleman Glacier to Colfax Col between the Black Buttes and Mount Baker’s Roman Wall, and then ascend Pumice Ridge and the Roman Wall to the summit ice cap. Overall, the two routes are considered roughly equal in length, elevation gain and difficulty.
Skill and Physical Requirements
In order to safely complete this climb and ski descent, there are several requirements you must meet. All individuals should have already completed their AIARE 1 course, and should be able to perform an avalanche rescue. All skiers should be in possession of a beacon, shovel, and probe. This climb is designed for skiers who already have some backcountry experience, and intermediate to advanced inbounds skiing abilities. You should feel confident skiing black diamond runs inbounds. The Mount Baker 2 Day Ski Descent requires strong physical fitness. If you are new to backcountry skiing, we highly recommend you look into our 3 Day Intro to Backcountry Skiing Course before you attempt a summit descent.
Need help choosing a trip?
Read our Four-Legged Stool blog post for tips on finding the right adventure for you.