Mount Baker Easton Glacier
“The Great White Watcher” — A Beginner Summit Climb
Mount Baker offers an interesting guided ascent for beginner-intermediate climbers on one of North America’s most sought ‑after peaks. Referred to as Koma Kulshan, or the “Great White Watcher,” by the Lummi Indians, Mount Baker is the highest and most heavily glaciated peak in the North Cascades. Our route ascends the Easton Glacier with challenging route finding through icefalls, seracs, and large crevasses. Incredible views of the North Cascades, Mount Rainier to the south and the alluring San Juan Islands to the west await those who reach the summit.
This is a “leave it to us,” climb. We’ll help you get prepared for the climb if it’s your first time on a glacier, get you to the trailhead from Seatle, give you shelter from the storm (tents provided), and not only is food provided, but your guides will impress you with their culinary skills and passion for good eats in the mountains — and they cook for you. All you have to do is get your equipment together, train, train more, and get psyched to explore one of the best places in the North Cascades.
Depending on conditions and the pace of your group, it takes from 5 to 7 hours via the Easton Glacier route to reach the top on summit day. Gorgeous views of the North Cascades reward you as you stand on the summit of the North Cascades’ highest volcano.
With its twelve active glaciers and breathtaking views, 10,781-foot / 3286-meter Mount Baker provides a scenic and extremely rewarding mountaineering experience for both first-time climbers and seasoned veterans alike. Unlike the crowds found on popular Mount Rainier, your ascent is performed in the untrammeled Mount Baker Wilderness Area.
The upper mountain alpine environment and the lower mountain’s close proximity to quality teaching terrain make Mount Baker an ideal location to learn and review mountaineering and glacier travel skills. If it’s your first big climb, our goal is to teach fundamental, introductory skills, while giving you hands-on experience. The skills developed on Mount Baker will provide valuable insight into what is needed to tackle bigger climbs throughout the world. Mount Baker Easton Glacier is a recommended conditioning or training climb for other Cascade volcanoes, Denali, Aconcagua, and other high altitude peaks – and it’s a great climb in its own right!
On this trip we will cover:
Selection and use of personal equipment, ropes, knots and harnesses
Crampon use and snow climbing techniques, ice axe positioning, and self arrest techniques
Roped glacier travel, rope team management, route finding, and crevasse navigation
Hazard assessment including a discussion of objective vs. subjective hazards
Camp construction, camp management, and cold weather camping skills
Proper clothing and climbing gear for survival in the high mountains, mountain weather, alpine ecology, avalanche hazard assessment, and Leave No Trace ethics
Climb Mountain Madness-style — Transportation. food, and tents provided!
Enjoy our guides’ outdoor culinary skills — They cook FOR you!
Stories from Our Climbers
Virgin on Mount Baker, The making of a Mountaineer
by Jackson Holtz, Mountain Madness Client
I’m tied in at the end of a climbing rope, facing the dreaded Roman Headwall at 10,000 feet on the south face of Mount Baker, the 10,778-foot peak near the Canadian border in Western Washington. I’ve been climbing all morning and this is the final push for the summit.
Mark Ryman, my guide and the lead climber, has decided to take a route straight up the brown-colored ice of the 35-degree slope. The rest of the team is above me, kicking down loose pieces of pumice. I lean into the wall of ice and let my helmet do its job. Then I call out for the team to halt.
“How the hell am I supposed to climb this?” I shout up to Mark, who is three climbers ahead of me and almost over the crest of the headwall.
“The same way we learned yesterday,” Mark shouts back. “Kick your front points into the ice and climb.”
I’m not reassured. What I want to do is turn around and go home. I want to give up, but I can’t. I’m roped in, in more ways than one, to a climbing team. I’ve paid a lot of money, and I’ve trained all summer. I keep going.
I’m not a mountaineer. I’m a desk job guy, in my mid-30’s with an ever-increasing waist size that comes from a sedentary lifestyle. I decided to make a change, but I needed a goal. Early in the spring, I decided to climb Mount Baker. I did research and found Mountain Madness, a guiding company that offered a group trip over the three-day Labor Day weekend. The timing gave me all summer to train. This pudgy, mid-career professional signed up for an adventure.
I started training immediately to get into shape to make it up and down Baker. The materials I received explained that no previous experience was necessary, but the better condition my legs, lungs and heart were in, the more fun I’d have on the mountain. My regimen included working out with a trainer: doing squats and lunges and working with uneven surfaces to improve my balance. I did dips and pull ups to “be able to haul my ass out of a crevasse,” as my trainer said. I rose early to climb stairs, jog and ride my bike. And most important, I went on long training hikes with increasing elevation.
After countless trips to REI and other outdoor gear shops, the weekend finally came. I checked and double checked my gear list and finally went to sleep for my last night in civilization. The time had come.
I met up with the two guides, Mark and Michael, and the rest of the group of six guys, five of them beginning climbers, too. The weather forecast for the North Cascades was clear and warm with light winds — perfect for climbing. I was scared to death.
The six-hour hike to base camp carrying a 60-pound pack was excruciating. The first mile or so of the hike wandered through a mostly flat meadow with a couple of river crossings. These were made hairy by narrow logs that were difficult to manage with all the weight on my back. One climber asked the guide if this is what the trail was like all the way up. “No,” he answered, “this is flat.”
After climbing 3,500 feet to about 6,500 feet of elevation, we set up high camp on a ledge at the foot of the Easton glacier. The views over the North Cascades, the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula only got better during the lengthy sunsets offered by the high altitude.
We spent that evening and the entire next day preparing for our summit climb. During the day we learned self-arrest techniques, how to walk in crampons and walking as a rope team. The rest of our time was spent preparing our gear for the summit climb and eating as much mountain grub as possible. Despite my usually insatiable appetite, I could barely eat — a combination of nerves and altitude.
“Hey guys, it’s 2:30 am,” my tent mate, Dennis, woke me up saying. “Aren’t we supposed to be up?”
We got up and quickly collected our gear and downed some breakfast. All I could stomach was some hot tea and an oat bar. We were ready to climb. We roped up in the dark, and with head lamps ablaze, started to climb. Soon we were high up on the glacier.
Every hour or so we stopped for a quick break. Since I was working hard, my body and clothes were drenched with sweat, and I felt cold in the chilly morning air. I also lacked carbohydrates and was shivering. I ate a package of Goo, the thick syrupy gel that provides fuel for athletes. It tasted good.
We kept going. In the early morning dusk, I watched Mount Rainier become awash in the brilliant hues of the sunrise. I also began to see in fuller light the route we were covering, including the narrow snow bridges over seemingly bottomless crevasses. Somehow, no one mentioned eight-inch wide, melting snow bridges in the marketing materials.
Steeper and steeper. I ate hard candies to pass the time and keep my sugar level up. I added a layer as a cold breeze picked up as we gained elevation. Finally, we set out on our final push and came to the Roman Headwall.
I kicked into the ice, and started climbing, like a ladder, one foot on top of the other. My crampons held, and after about 20 feet of climbing, I was off the ice and onto the loose pumice for the final 20 feet of the headwall.
Once I’d topped the Roman Headwall, the domed top felt easy, but precarious. On one side was a several-thousand-foot drop into the crater of the volcano where sulfur fumes seeped from gaping vents. On the other side was a huge crevasse, several-hundred feet wide with a glacier the size of a city skyscraper slowly breaking away.
Suddenly I realized I made it. I was standing on top of Mount Baker with tears streaming down my face. I had set out to climb a mountain, and I’d done it. I was fit, strong and standing on my own two feet.
Back down in the van on the way back to civilization, after 16 hours of hiking, three days of hard work and standing on the tallest mountain in the North Cascades, I had mountain climber’s high — a mixture of exhaustion, dehydration, hypoxia and spent ambition combined with the glow of meeting my goal. Despite, and perhaps because of, being scared to death and pushed to new limits, I knew then that I would do this again. After all, now I’m a mountaineer.
Mount Baker Easton Glacier
$955 – 3 Days
- Guide services
- Ground transportation
- All meals while on the mountain
- Cook kits
- Group climbing equipment
Price Does Not Include
- Transportation within Seattle
- Hotel accommodations
- Restaurant meals
- All personal equipment
- Travel insurance with trip cancellation, medical and evacuation policy
- Guide gratuities
- $400 deposit at time of registration, which includes a $200 non-refundable registration fee
- Balance due 90 days prior to departure
- The balance can be paid by check, wire transfer, ACH or credit card with a 3% convenience fee
- Jun 12, 2020 — Jun 14, 2020
- Jun 19, 2020 — Jun 21, 2020
- Jul 3, 2020 — Jul 5, 2020
- Jul 4, 2020 — Jul 6, 2020
- Jul 17, 2020 — Jul 19, 2020
- Jul 18, 2020 — Jul 20, 2020
- Jul 24, 2020 — Jul 26, 2020
- Jul 31, 2020 — Aug 2, 2020
- Aug 1, 2020 — Aug 3, 2020
- Aug 7, 2020 — Aug 9, 2020
- Aug 14, 2020 — Aug 16, 2020
- Aug 21, 2020 — Aug 23, 2020
- Aug 28, 2020 — Aug 30, 2020
Custom Dates Available — Contact Us
Cancellation / Refund Policy
- MMI strongly recommends trip cancellation/interruption and evacuation insurance for all trips. Our insurance partner, Ripcord, offers comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancellation, as well as rescue/evacuation policies and can assist in answering any questions. In addition, Participant is expected to have sufficient medical insurance as prescribed by their country of origin. Participant understands that MMI does not include anytype of insurance with the cost of the trip.
- If you decide to cancel your trip or change your itinerary, MMI must be notified in writing. Your trip will be cancelled from the date written notice is received. If proper written cancellation notice is not received, amounts paid and reservations made will be forfeited.
- Non-refundable fees may apply for certain trips in order to secure permits and other services. MMI must strictly adhere to cancellation policies outside MMI’s control.
- Due to the personalized service we offer on our trips, MMI reserves the right to waive any fees. We will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations, waiving certain fees when feasible.
- Full refund, less the non-refundable registration fee, will be provided 91 days or more before the departure date
- No refunds will be provided 90 days or less before the departure date
We strongly recommend the purchase of travel cancellation insurance to protect you from the unexpected. You aren’t likely to think of it now, but people do get ill, break a bone, have a family emergency or get assigned to a last-minute business trip. If you are in remote areas, please note that emergency rescue & evacuation can be very expensive.
We also strongly urge you to consider rescue and evacuation insurance if your own policy does not provide the coverage needed. Services available may include, but are not limited to, helicopter evacuation, medical care, etc.
If you choose not to purchase insurance, you assume full responsibility for any expenses incurred in the event of a medical emergency and/or evacuation, as well as for trip cancellation, interruption, lost luggage, etc. We are not the experts and therefore ask that you please consult our travel insurance partner directly with any specific questions.
To protect against losses due to illness, accident, or other unforeseen circumstances, Mountain Madness strongly recommends the purchase of travel insurance as soon as possible after making a deposit. Mountain Madness has partnered with Redpoint Resolutions as our preferred travel insurance provider. Redpoint’s Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ is designed for adventurers.
For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ or call +1 – 415-481‑0600. Pricing varies based on age, trip cost, trip length, and level of coverage.
Critical benefits of Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance include:
- A completely integrated program with a single point of contact for emergency services, travel assistance, and insurance claims
- Evacuation and rescue services from your point of injury or illness to your hospital of choice
- Comprehensive travel insurance for trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, baggage loss or delay, emergency accident and emergency sickness medical expense, emergency dental, accidental death and dismemberment, and more
- Optional security evacuation coverage in case of an unplanned natural disaster or other security events
- Waiver for pre-existing conditions (must be purchased within 14 days of tour deposit)
- Optional “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage (must be purchased within 14 days of tour deposit)
For scheduled courses and climbs, you should fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac). You are responsible for your transportation to downtown Seattle. You will meet as a group with your guide(s) early morning on Day 1 for an orientation meeting and equipment check.
Mount Baker Easton Glacier Day by Day
Drive from Seattle to the trailhead at Schreiber’s Meadow (3,200 ft / 975 m) on the south side of Mt. Baker. Approximate driving time is 2.5 hours. The hike to base camp at 5,500 feet / 1676 meters takes about 3 to 4 hours. We will travel through lush ancient forests, high alpine meadows, and snow covered areas en route to our high camp. After setting up camp, we will perform an equipment check and skills assessment. We spend the afternoon learning the essentials of glacier travel; ice axe / crampon use, self arrest, rope team travel and basic hazard assessment. The remainder of the evening is spent making final preparations for the next day’s summit attempt.
The second day begins early with an alpine start followed by a quick breakfast — Typically between 2 and 3 am is our start time for the climb. Depending on conditions and the pace of your group, it takes from 5 to 7 hours to reach the top. Gorgeous views of the North Cascades reward you as you stand on the summit of the North Cascades’ highest volcano. We return to base camp by early afternoon and you will enjoy an early evening celebratory dinner before getting some well needed rest.
After a relaxing breakfast we break down camp, and descend to our vehicle. Plan to be back in Seattle by 6 – 7 pm.
Note: Depending on weather conditions, your group may summit on the third day of the itinerary. This contingent makes for a long day making your arrival time in Seattle later in the evening, often by 9 – 10 pm.
Note on Itinerary: Although we do our very best to follow the schedule listed, the very nature of climbing in an alpine environment requires flexibility. This itinerary is subject to change due to inclement weather, unsafe route conditions, and other reasons beyond our control.
Equipment for Mount Baker Easton Glacier
Large capacity climbing pack (65-75L)
approximately 4000-4500 cubic inch (65-75 liters) capacity, avoid unnecessary options that add weight
Black Diamond Mission 75, Osprey Ariel 65
Expedition quality sleeping bag (15-20F)
One down or synthetic bag rated from 15-20°F /-9 to -7°C
Marmot Helium, Marmot Trestles, Western Mountaineering Apache, North Face Guide 20
Sleeping pad (inflatable)
Full length inflatable. When sleeping on snow make sure to purchase pad rated to do so
Alpine climbing harness
Must have adjustable leg loops and fit over all clothing
Black Diamond Couloir, Petzl Altitude, Petzl Hirundos
Locking carabiners (2)
Two large, pear-shaped carabiners are best
Black Diamond Rock Lock, Petzl William, Petzl Attache
Non-locking carabiners (2)
2 non-locking carabiners. wired straight-gates are recommended
Black Diamond HotWire
Mountaineering ice axe
under 5’7” use 60cm, 5’7”-6’2” use 60 or 65cm, over 6’2” use 70cm
Black Diamond Raven, Petzl Glacier
Crampons w/ anti-balling plate
Steel 12-pont. Must be fit to climbing boots prior to trip, new-matic/hybrid type
Black Diamond Sabretooth, Petzl Vasak
Black Diamond Half Dome, Petzl Elios
4' of perlon accessory cord
4' of perlon accessory cord for prussik materials (6mm diameter)
Adjustable trekking poles
Three piece poles recommended
Black Diamond Trail Back Pole
Belay device (climb dependent)
Call MM equipment staff for details and recommendations
Head and Face
Fleece or wool hat
It must cover the ears
Shade hat or baseball cap
A visor hat with a good brim is essential for protection from the sun
Mountain Madness trucker hat
Balaclava or neck gaiter (optional)
100% UV protection with side shields and a hard-sided storage case
Light weight work gloves
lightweight gloves with leather palm for rope work
Black Diamond Transition Glove
Black Diamond Punisher Glove
Liner socks (optional)
1-pair lightweight and thin
polypropylene or wool
Syntheric or wool socks
check boot fir to make sure they work together
Insulated mountaineering boots (NW)
waterproof, insulated, crampon compatible, full shank boots. Many of these boots have Women specific equivalents (May –late June and Ice Climbs)
Scarpa Mt Blanc, Scarpa Phantom Tech, La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX, Salewa Vulture Vertical GTX
Lightweight mountaineering boots (NW)
waterproof and crampon compatible (HIGHLY recommended from July -October)
Scarpa Charmoz, La Sportiva Trango Tower, Salewa Raven, Salewa Crow
Light trail shoes, camp booties, or sandals (optional)
Trail shoes for when at campgrounds and booties/sandals/Crocs for basecamps when weather and season allow
Two synthetic or merino wool t-shirts. No cotton!
Two, synthetic, no cotton!
Long-sleeved Base Layer
Two lightweight to mediumweight, pull-over is best
Softshell Jacket w/ hood
This is what you will be wearing while hiking at higher altitudes or while kicking around camps at lower altitude. This jacket should be full-zip
Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Light weight synthetic jacket
light weight synthetic puffy or fleece
Patagonia Nano Puff jacket
Hardshell jacket w/ hood
A good jacket made of Gore-Tex (recommended) or waterproof nylon, roomy enough to fit over multiple layers
Outdoor Research Foray, Patagonia Triolet
Down or synthetic jacket w/hood
This is your most important piece of warm gear and will mean the difference between an enjoyable climb or a miserable one. A warm, full zip jacket with hood is recommended and ideal
Helly Hansen Vanir, Feathered Friends Volant, Marmot Guide’s Down Hoody, Outdoor Research Virtuoso Hoody
Sun hoody (optional)
This piece with a high SPF rating and lightweight fabric offers protection from high altitude sun
Long base layer
Two pairs light or mediumweight
Nylon shorts (optional)
Quick-drying type for July-Sept trips
Softshell pants are water resistant, yet highly breathable and durable. Great for colder conditions over a pair of long underwear or tights higher on the mountain or summit day
Outdoor Research Voodoo, Mountain Hardwear Touren, Patagonia Guide
waterproof and breathable with side zips (minimum of ¾ zips recommended) Gore-Tex or equivalent
Outdoor Research Furio, Arcteryx Beta AR
Personal first aid kit (NW)
moleskin/blister kit, Band-aids, athletic tape, ibuprofen, personal medications, ect
Must have SPF rating of 20 or more. Bring two just in case!
Bring plenty of sun block with SPF of 40 or more. It's easy to underestimate the amount necessary for equatorial sun protection
enough to last trip length
Bring extra batteries!
two 1 liter wide-mouth water bottles
Hydration bladder (optional)
hydration bladder or water bag with drinking tube (must also have 1 Nalgene Bottle or equivalent)
Water purification (NW)
Purifies drinking water while on the climb
Steri Pen, Potable Aqua, Polar Pure crystal iodine
Large plastic bowl
Bring a 2-4 cup camping bowl or a plastic "Rubbermaid" style container for your mountain dining
Insulated cup (12-16oz)
A 12-16 oz (350-500 ml) mug with an attached lid will help keep you hydrated
Lexan spoon or spork
Lightweight and strong
Pocket knife or multitool
Simple Swiss Army type with scissors. Make sure you transport in checked bag, not carry-on!
Toiletry kit (NW)
toilet paper stored in double zip lock bags
Large plastic bags
heavy duty trash compactor bags recommended
Nylon stuff sacks
for food and gear storage, large ziplocs are useful
Bring your favorite snacks and power/energy bars or if there is something else you particularly like to eat while hiking and climbing
or any sort of device that takes pictures
Soap, shampoo, towel (optional)
for use at campground showers when on itinerary
Comfortable clothing for travel before and after the expedition
Mount Baker Easton Glacier
10,781 ft / 3286 m
Client to Guide Ratio
No prior climbing experience is required. Climbers should be in good physical condition and it is highly recommended that they have some backpacking experience.