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Climbing
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Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade I
Elevation Gain
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Distance
11.00 mi (17.70 km)
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Dominating Bellingham's eastern skyline, Mount Baker provides countless opportunities for crevasse alpine climbing. Second only to Mount Rainier as Washington's most glaciated peak, the mountain provides a plethora of route variations ranging from beginner crevasse travel to difficult ice climbing. As the most climbed route, the Coleman-Deming glaciers offer climbers an introduction to glacier travel with breathtaking vistas of the North Cascades. Don't be fooled by the beginner rating on this route; the 7,100-foot overall elevation gain, rapidly changing weather, and potential for avalanches and crevasse falls leave this climb suited for the physically fit and experienced alpine climber.

Beginning in a lush green timber forest, the Coleman-Deming route weaves through the predominantly fir timber stand that crosses rushing streams and passes glacier-fed waterfalls. Climbers should be prepared for a few rock-hopping stream crossings and exercise caution when the creeks are running high. Water levels are typically lowest in the early morning hours and increase throughout the day as the glaciers melt in the heat of the sun. The route emerges from the shadows of the trees at timberline, exposing breathtaking views of the fractured glaciers on the andesitic stratovolcano. Passing through fields of magenta paintbrush, lupine, and yellow aster, the trial continues to push up the ridge to the base of the Coleman Glacier. Once you finish roping-up, continue as the route sets off past giant, delicately stacked seracs and up to the ridge dividing Deming and Coleman glaciers. After making the last strenuous push up the ridge and through the steep Roman Wall, climbers emerge on the flat top leading to the snow-crowned summit at 10,781 feet.

For climbers looking for a two-day climb, the route presents a few basecamp options. Low camp at the base of the Coleman Glacier provides a shorter pack in and dry ground to erect camp in the summer months. For the more ambitious overnighter, roped travel to cross the crevassed glacier to the spine of Heliotrope Ridge provides a true snow camping experience. Beware of crevasses and the moat between the glacier and the rock face of the ridge, as both pose a fall risk. Both camp options afford breathtaking views of the summit block and the jagged peaks of the Cascade Range to the north.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

Vistas. Wildflowers. Obvious trail.

Cons

Crowds. Unpredictable weather. Crevasses. Avalanche potential.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

3,680.00 ft (1,121.66 m)

Net Elevation Gain

7,100.00 ft (2,164.08 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

07/30/2016
Summit Baker via Coleman Glacier was absolutely the most physically and mentally rewarding day of my life. It forever changed the way I think about big mountains and helped fully realize the dream of pushing myself more into high altitude climbs. My heart is filled from so much thrill and excitement.

Friday night, we drove out to the mountain in the darkness. Donning headlamps we ascended through old growth forests, crossing rapid streams, and carefully stepping over roots and rocks--turns out walking in mountaineering boots super sucks until get actually get onto the snow.

The stars REALLY put on their makeup when you're up few thousand feet, miles and miles away from the nearest big city; we could see Vancouver twinkling in the distance.

As we put on our crampons, harnesses and rope, the moon started to rise east of the mountain and we could actually see what we were about to climb.
After crossing two glaciers, many crevasses, a volcanic ash ridge and the daunting crux, the Roman Wall we reached the cold and windy summit at 11am (ahead of schedule!).

I honestly wouldn't have been able to do this alone. There was a moment, that I partially blame on altitude, where I didn't think I could do it, but Chris was an amazing leader and gave me the confidence to completely trust myself, my gear, and the situation. I am forever fortunate for his expertise, character, and sharing this experience. I learned so much in 12 hours--mountaineering is no joke, and I know now more than ever that I want to do more than hike.

10,778 ft in elevation. 7000ft gain. Hiked car to car. Total of 12 hours on the mountain. 100% life changing.
06/25/2016
Took this route to the summit last weekend. After some fairly fresh snowfall, we had some pristine conditions. Quite an impressive and intimidating mountain!
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