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The Climbing Club • View topic - Boulder-Park ski on Baker

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
It is currently Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:13 pm

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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:45 pm
Posts: 9
Hi folks,

This coming weekend looks like it will be spot-on weather for some big ski mountaineering. I've tried to muster a number of friends for a route, but don't have anybody who's committed yet. Boulder-Park on Mt Baker looks sweet and would be the objective:

I'd like to do it in 2-3 days, either Fri-Sat-Sun or Sat-Sun or Sun-Mon. 1 day would be for the drive and approach, the 2nd for the summit push, descent, and exit. (If in 3 days, we could get the drive over with Friday, then have a more leisurely day Saturday.)

What I'm looking for in partners: Solid glacier travel experience and crevasse rescue skills (this is my weakest area, but I have practiced). Good skiing and skinning ability. Avy training and equipment (there has been a lot of fresh this week and last, so I have planned to bring avy gear but don't want to use it). Good fitness overall. Basically, I'm not looking to show beginners the ropes but for a partner who is competent and trustworthy.

A little bit about me: I moved from VT last Fall to start my PhD in applied math at UW. I'm a solid skier and have toured for about 3 years. I've mountaineered on big mountains in Chile and small(er) mountains around WA and VT.

Who's psyched??? :rock:

Kam

P.S. You can expect occasional safety meetings en route.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 2:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:32 pm
Posts: 115
Hey Kam! Did you muster a team? Also, do you know the state of the swamp on the approach to Boulder-Park? I hear it can be icky if it's not still filled in.

Myself and 3 others are aiming to summit via the Easton Glacier. Maybe we'll see you with the rest of the omg-nice-weather hoards at the bottom?


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 10:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:45 pm
Posts: 9
Hey Cori, hopefully the swamp is filled in :-)
We've changed plans to Sunday-Monday, so I hope you have a good time!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:54 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:32 pm
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Ah, I think you will have way better weather (and fewer hoards of climbers/snowmobilers) than we did. Good call. :) Looking forward to hearing about your trip!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:45 pm
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It was epic. We did it in a day, left Seattle at 1:15 this morning, and was back before dark.
I'll try to put a report together... later.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:44 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:45 pm
Posts: 9
So it was an amazing day!

I started out from Seattle at 1:15 am to meet Ben in Everett. We left the trailhead at about 4:30. Unfortunately, I lagged behind Ben and ended up missing the meadow, made an epic bushwack to the ridge (too early), realized my mistake but didn't want to backtrack through the steep suncups and alder. So I waited on the ridge and was lucky that Ben and Hannah pushed on and eventually found me. Sorry, guys :oops: There's something to be said for keeping the team together....

There were good views on the ridge, though:
Image

Hannah skipped the lower Boulder ridge and moved quickly through the lower Boulder glacier (recommended approach and descent for skiers, just move up the valley and take the obvious chute on the right as this ends), meeting Ben and I at some rocks after gaining the ridge, around 8 am:
Image

Despite this setback of about an hour, and thanks to some superb pacing and track setting, we made good time for the rest of the day. We made our way up the cleaver and onto the upper glacier to our goal, the Park headwall.
Image
Image

We passed over the 'schrund where it was most filled in, at the south edge of the headwall. Then, it was exciting booting and cramponing to the top. The snow was a thin glassy crust over consolidated powder when we started up the wall, so we didn't put on crampons. Hannah started to second-guess that decision about halfway up as the "pow" layer got thinner and the really consolidated old snow underneath made climbing sketchy. So we transitioned to crampons mid-slope. I was happy to be in the back and making the transition on a slightly more moderate slope! Made a comfy ledge with my axe and no problem. The climb was straightforward with crampons, and loads of fun.

Then it was summit time! We arrived around 2:15 pm. Huge stoke, big rolling cumulus all around but somehow not touching Baker's summit, basically zero wind and balmy temps made us a happy trio. We caught a glimpse of one other person, a skier on the far side of Sherman crater checking out the steam vents.

The snow on the headwall was certainly skiable.
Ben drops in first, taking the line between rocks on the face immediately below the summit (setting himself up for a mandatory crevasse-hop exit):
Image

Hannah and I skied near where we climbed up. Hannah drops in:
Image

The face skied great. You could certainly feel the crust---some railroad track effect---but it broke apart easily and made fun sloughs that it was necessary to manage. We think we dropped in at a good time, because it had been able soften all day but was in the shade soon after our descent.

Hannah rips a turn down to me:
Image

The best snow for skiing was the next section. Then it started to get gloppy, then REALLY sloppy, deep enough that my tips were diving. The route is not steep in this section, so we didn't set off any big slides, but the snow was ready to move. The glacier became a brilliant white as the sun's angle in the sky dipped.
Image

We skied as far as we could, had to remove them for a dirt section near the waterfall, put them back on and managed to ski a little past the meadow. This is still mostly snow-covered.

What a great day! I am paying for it with blisters but will spare your impressionable eyes.


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