Mount Baker North Ridge
If you have time to sample one alpine route in Washington we might recommend the North Ridge. The North Ridge of Mt. Baker is a very achievable and iconic NW climbing route. Overall the route is moderate in nature with a few steep sections up to 70 degrees to keep things spicy. Strong parties may be able to do the route in 2 days, but most prefer 3 for a more relaxed exit. The route is approached from the same trail head as the Coleman-Deming route, which serves as the descent route for the North Ridge. We like to think of the North Ridge as a shorter version of Mt. Rainier's Liberty Ridge, and a very good addition to a resume that claims other routes like the North Ridge of Mt. Stuart
, the North Face of Mt. Buckner
, and the North Ridge of Forbidden Peak
Mt. Baker Climb Day 1:
8 am group orientation and introductions at the USFS ranger station in Glacier, WA. Prior to the trip you will be contacted by our office to make sure you have all the gear you need and to arrange rental of the items you do not own or want to buy. For this route it is imperative that you bring lightweight gear that is sufficient for the climb. At this morning meeting we will conduct a thorough equipment check, distribute group gear, and help each member organize their pack for the hike in.
We will then hike in to around 6700' where we will leave our camp while we are out on the route. This trip in usually takes around 4+ hours. On the evening before the climb we will eat a big dinner, and be sure to get to bed early for our pre-dawn start.
Mt. Baker Climb Day 2:
Up early, we must first negotiate the often very broken Coleman Glacier to the base of the route at 7,800' We will often have scouted and marked this route the night before in order to speed our approach in the morning, while leaving our camp in an easy to reach location on the descent. The route tends to slowly get steeper and more complicated as the season progresses.
Once on route, things remain fairly low-angle before reaching the crest of the North Ridge at around 8,800. From here the route narrows and steepens before eventually gaining a 1-2 pitch section of steeper ice leading to the magnificent 50 degree slopes that lead to the summit. We then descend back to camp for the night. Super fit parties may opt to hike all the way out, but we usually find that people are ready to sleep when we arrive back in camp in the afternoon
Mt. Baker Climb Day 3:
Leisurely wake up followed by the hike out and drive back to Seattle. If you have the energy we can always top rope a few pitches in the seracs on the lower Coleman Glacier in the morning before we depart.
Qualifications for climbing Mt. Baker's North Ridge
In order to join our North Ridge of Mt. Baker climb you need to have suitable ice climbing skills, including comfort climbing steadily and efficiently for up to 12 pitches of 45-50 water ice with short steps of steeper ice. If you would like to polish your ice climbing skills, we can often schedule a day of ice climbing on the lower Coleman Glacier prior to your climb. You should also be familiar with belaying, removing ice screws and pickets, and have solid rope travel skills.
Other routes we guide on Mt. Baker
Custom Climbs of the North Ridge
This route can easily be guided 2:1, but many of our customers opt to do it 1:1. Any guide that works this route for the Northwest Mountain School needs to be AMGA Alpine certified or far enough through their AMGA training to guide the route. If you would like to do a custom climb, give Olivia a call at 509-548-5823 to check on guide availability and book your trip. We are open to 2-day climbs, but want to make sure you are up to the challenge and understand the implications of walking out after the climb. Customs are nice if you want to link to another route such as Shuksan or something nearby in the North Cascades.
Good sources of Beta on the North Ridge of Baker
This program takes place on US Forest Service lands under a commercial-outfitter and guide permit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs & activities and is an equal opportunity provider and employer.