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Baker North Ridge

Mount Baker North Ridge

I had the great oppor­tu­ni­ty to guide the North Ridge of Mount Bak­er which is a great climb in the North Cas­cades. What made the trip even more spe­cial was I got to take a gen­tle­man by the name of Ryan out on the climb, which was his first ever expe­ri­ence in the moun­tains! I know some of you are think­ing, wow, what a trip for one’s first time,” and boy are you cor­rect. The North Ridge of Bak­er is a very aes­thet­ic line on the north side of Bak­er that offers lots of tech­ni­cal climb­ing chal­lenges for the bud­ding alpine climber. Not to men­tion that it is a very big fit­ness chal­lenge as well.

Well, on the first day I met Ryan, I could tell this guy was going to be a crush­er. He had researched every­thing and was real­ly psy­ched and ready to give the moun­tain a go. Our first day involved a dri­ve from Seat­tle to the north side’s start which is the Heliotrope Trail. We arrived mid morn­ing ready to hike to base camp and, in true Wash­ing­ton fash­ion, the rain wel­comed us to Bak­er. Lucky for us we were armed with the right gear and a ton of excite­ment which helped make the hike to base camp real­ly a cruiser. 

Clear day at camp. Matt Barela photo

Once we arrived at base­camp, we tack­led the task of set­ting things up and ready­ing our posi­tion on the moun­tain to go for the sum­mit as soon as things looked good. Our game plan for the rest of the day was a snow school but heavy rain kept us at bay so we spent the day in the tent talk­ing moun­tain strat­e­gy and going over the climb. We closed the day off with Ryan’s first-ever go at jam­bal­aya, which he enjoyed, and then off to bed.

Day 2 brought us a great new take on things with a gor­geous morn­ing and no sign of rain. Today was a big day as we had to cov­er a snow school, ice climb­ing, anchors, and tran­si­tions. We got up ear­ly to get ready for the day and had a great break­fast of eggs, bacon, and bagels. Once our stom­achs were hap­py we head­ed on out to the ice fall on the Cole­man glac­i­er to start our train­ing. On the way out, we went over the nuances of trav­el­ing on a glac­i­er as well as ice axe man­age­ment. Ryan was a fast learn­er and it made things go real­ly smooth­ly. Once we made it to the ice fall we switched to climb­ing mode and went over the basics of ice climb­ing and then quick­ly tran­si­tioned into mul­ti­p­itch climb­ing mode. Once again Ryan was prov­ing that he was on top of things to ensure a smooth sum­mit day. Once we fin­ished our tour of the ice fall it was time to head back to base­b­camp to go over some more snow school things.

Great ice climb­ing! Matt Barela photo

Ryan killed day 2 and was as dialed as a vet­er­an. I was real­ly excit­ed to know that he was ready to go and if the weath­er looked good we would have a great shot at the top. We sat down over a din­ner of chick­en pad thai and went over a sum­mit talk. I had to be very frank with Ryan on how things would go since it was his first time out it seri­ous ter­rain. Ryan lis­tened to the talk and was ready to go and we went to bed around 6:30pm (or at least sat in the tent pretending). 

Day 3 was our big day to go for the top. We got up around 2am and after a quick break­fast and pack­ing ses­sion we were out of camp at 3:15am. We head­ed out in the dark to nav­i­gate the Cole­man Glac­i­er with our head­lamps to lead the way. The glac­i­er was in great shape and made for fast trav­el. We made it to the base of the more tech­ni­cal climb­ing rather fast and Ryan was ready to ham­mer down. We crushed it to the base of the ice cliff and now it was time to start ice climb­ing. Ryan was lov­ing it and looked real­ly good the whole way. We climbed 4 pitch­es up the ice cliff and once we were on top of that we had only 400 feet to go. We were doing great on time and the weath­er was so per­fect. The temps were allow­ing us to wear just a base lay­er and light gloves, which made for such a great morn­ing. We were on top around 10:45am and had nailed it. Ryan was so hap­py and he did such a great job mak­ing it through all the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges of the day. 

Sum­mit shot! Matt Barela photo

After spend­ing 30mins on top in per­fect weath­er it was time to head out and get back to base­camp. We head­ed down the Cole­man-Dem­ing route which is the stan­dard way down from the north ridge and it was smooth sail­ing. We were back in camp in an hour and fif­teen min­utes. The descent route was in per­fect shape lend­ing to such a nice walk down. 

Once in camp we relaxed for a few and then decid­ed to hike out. Ryan had crushed the North Ridge of Bak­er but was excit­ed to get out and see his wife and kids. Way to go Ryan and thanks for a great trip!

~ MM Guide Matthew Barela

I just want to say that I am real­ly hap­py with every­one at Moun­tain Mad­ness. Matt Barela was a great guide! I enjoyed hear­ing about his trips and expe­ri­ences climb­ing. I reached my goal and it was all because of Matt! He was able to teach me in one short day enough skills to be suc­cess­ful in reach­ing my goal. I have nev­er been in the moun­tains before and we were able to knock out the North Ridge of Bak­er. It was so much fun!!”

~ Climber Ryan G.

It is trun­ing out to be a great sea­son and a long one at that- call about options left for the sum­mer for Alpine Climbs; 800−328−5925