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Father and Son Shred the Mighty Baker Horn!

Just because win­ter is over, or didn’t real­ly hap­pen up here in the Pacif­ic North­west, doesn’t mean that that ski sea­son is over! Dan and his dad Mag­nus joined Moun­tain Mad­ness and AMGA Cer­ti­fied Ski Guide Chris Mar­shall on a four-day ski moun­taineer­ing pro­gram on Mt. Bak­er. They chose to head off the beat­en path and climb and ski Mt. Bak­er via the Squak Glac­i­er. The Squak offers over 3500’ of fall line ski­ing! The Squak Glac­i­er is best described as an end­less Blue Square” ski run com­plete with the aes­thet­ic views of large crevass­es, the ocean, and tow­er­ing ser­ac fields.

Dan carv­ing past crevasses.

With warm tem­per­a­tures in the park­ing lot, our team got plen­ty of looks and inquiries from oth­er folks as we strapped our skis/​boards and boots to our packs and began hik­ing up the trail. The approach to the Squak is more direct than the approach to the Eas­t­on camps, and we were at a beau­ti­ful camp below Crag View at 6100’ with time to spare in the evening. I had nev­er camped there before, and it was amaz­ing! The views of Shuk­san to the east and the Pacif­ic Ocean to the west are not to be missed. Add to this a com­plete lack of peo­ple for the first two nights, run­ning water, and dry tent sites — we were psyched.

Peo­ple thought we were crazy, but the turns were worth it!

Sun­set over the Pacif­ic Ocean. 

The exquis­ite view from camp at Crag View.

The weath­er on the moun­tain is fick­le, as is the reli­a­bil­i­ty of weath­er fore­casts. An unset­tled weath­er pat­tern was mov­ing in, and it looked like our best weath­er win­dow called for an ear­ly start the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the win­dow didn’t last long, but we per­se­vered and suc­cess­ful­ly nav­i­gat­ed around large crevass­es and bergshrunds en route to the sum­mit. Mag­nus had nev­er ski toured before, and quick­ly real­ized the ben­e­fits of alpine tour­ing skis and skins. Dan was a troop­er as he boot­packed with his snow­board on his back the entire way! The low swirling clouds gave the glac­i­er an out­er-world­ly feel as we’d catch a glimpse of the ser­ac fields to the east. 

An ear­ly start from camp got us mov­ing up the moun­tain in good style.

Rope team trav­el up the Squak.

Due to the weath­er, snow sur­face, and glac­i­er con­di­tions, it was inap­pro­pri­ate to ski from the sum­mit on this par­tic­u­lar trip, so we stashed out skis and boards at 9600’ before tack­ling the Roman Wall guard­ing the sum­mit plateau. As we climbed high­er, the clouds began to thin, and to our dis­be­lief, we saw blue sky as we made our way above the clouds. A quick dash across the sum­mit plateau, and we stood on top of Mt. Bak­er in time for some sum­mit high fives and pho­tos before the clouds moved in again. 

Dan and Mag­nus near­ing the summit.

Father/​son team on the sum­mit of Mt. Baker.

All that await­ed was the long and well-earned ski/​ride back to camp. We found great fall line ski­ing and rid­ing, carv­ing turns in the soft­ened snow, pass­ing crevass­es and ice­falls, and final­ly descend­ing below the clouds for some wel­come vis­i­bil­i­ty. It was a dra­mat­ic back­drop to cap off an extra­or­di­nary day and effort on Dan and Mag­nus’ part.

Mag­nus ski­ing past some seracs.

Dan rid­ing with Sher­man Peak in the background.

We used the remain­der of the trip to dial in crevasse res­cue skills to pre­pare for more glac­i­er ski­ing in the future. If you are a ski­er or rid­er of inter­me­di­ate or above abil­i­ty, YOU can ski Mt. Bak­er. Skis/​boards with skins make uphill trav­el more effi­cient, and the down­hill infi­nite­ly more fun! As with any ski moun­taineer­ing objec­tive, you real­ly earn your turns,” and each one is more sweet because of it! Dan and Mag­nus were intro­duced to ski tour­ing for the first time on this trip, and they’re ready for more. There are lots of clas­sic ski descents here in the Pacif­ic North­west, come let us show you around!

Prac­tic­ing crevasse res­cue in camp.

~ MM Guide Chris Marshall