Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes
        Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
  Lassen Peak
  Mount Shasta
  Medicine Lake Volcano
  Mount McLoughlin
  Pelican Butte
  Crater Lake
  Mount Bailey
  Mount Thielsen
  Diamond Peak
  Newberry Volcano
  Mount Bachelor
  Broken Top
  Three Sisters
  Mount Washington
  Three Fingered Jack
  Mount Jefferson
  Mount Hood
  Mount Saint Helens
  Mount Adams
  Goat Rocks
  Mount Rainier
  Glacier Peak
  Mount Baker
  Mount Garibaldi
  Mount Cayley
  Mount Meager

| Mount Baker from the east in June; this flank is fully
covered by the Boulder (left) and Park Glaciers (right)
(photo by Amar Andalkar)   <click to enlarge>

Mount Baker
    10781 ft (3286 m) .
Major Peaks:
Grant Peak:     10781 ft (3286 m)
Sherman Peak:     10160 ft (3097 m)
Colfax Peak:     9355 ft (2851 m)
Lincoln Peak:     9080 ft (2768 m)
Location: Cascade Range, northern Washington,
80 miles (130 km) NNE of Seattle
Lat / Long: 48.8° N, 121.8° W
Volcanic Type: Stratovolcano
Volcanic Status: Active (steaming), last eruption 1870
First Ascent: Edmund T. Coleman and party, 1868
First Ski Ascent: Ed Loners and Robert Sperlin, 1930
First Ski Descent: Don Fraser and Hans Otto Giese, 1933
Skiable Vertical: over 8000 ft (2400 m)
Lift Served Vertical:   1500 ft (450 m) at Mount Baker Ski Area
on adjacent Shuksan Arm (not on Mount Baker itself)
Timberline: 5000-5500 ft (1500-1700 m)
Administration: Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest
Protection Status:   Mount Baker Wilderness (partial)
User Fees: Northwest Forest Pass required for parking
(Sno-Park Permit from November-April)

Mount Baker is a large and very prominent stratovolcano located in northwest Washington State near the Canadian border. Nearly completely encased in ice, it hosts the second largest glacial system in the contiguous United States (after Mount Rainier). Mount Baker receives tremendous snowfall, averaging well over 600 inches (15 m) annually, and during the 1998-99 snow season a new world record of 1140 inches (29 m) was recorded at the nearby Mount Baker Ski Area at 4200 ft (1300 m). The massive snowpack permits safe and fun skiing on large, active glaciers such as the Coleman and Easton throughout the spring and well into summer (roped travel is recommended on the ascent, though). Several mid-elevation areas on the north and northeast sides remain skiable year-round, and in good years the Squak and Coleman Glaciers remain so too.

Route Ratings Starting
Description & Notes
Quality Effort Ascent Descent
Summit Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
Easton Glacier
3200 ft
(1000 m)
7600 ft
(2300 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
A relatively easy glacier ski route, intermediate terrain up to Sherman Crater at 9700 ft, with 35-degree expert slopes on the headwall above to the summit. Too many snowmobiles before summer, but the preferred direct route from the river crossing to the glacier tongue is only skiable in spring. With deep snowpack this route can still offer almost 6000 vertical feet of excellent skiing (starting from the Railroad Grade trail) in early-mid summer, long after the snowmobiles are gone. (See my ski trip report from August 1997.)
Coleman Glacier -
 Deming Glacier

3700 ft
(1100 m)
7100 ft
(2150 m)
12 miles
(19 km)
A great route, much more wilderness feel than Easton. Lots of great ski terrain, especially along Heliotrope Ridge. A fine variation for both ski ascent and descent stays west of Heliotrope Ridge until 6000 ft, thus avoiding the usual trail and busy climbers' campsite. Upper portion of route below Coleman-Deming saddle is heavily crevassed in late season or with poor snowpack, but quite safe into early summer with deep snowpack. (See my ski trip report from June 1999.)
North Ridge
3700 ft
(1100 m)
7200 ft
(2200 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
Normally done as an ice climb, with a deep snowpack this is a viable steep skiing route. Mostly 40-50 degrees except for one pitch of 70-degree ice near 9600 ft, where a rappel would probably be needed. The route could be climbed to that point and the ski descent done from there back down to the Coleman Glacier. Has somewhat less objective hazard than most other extreme routes on the Cascade volcanoes.
Park Glacier
4200 ft
(1300 m)
7000+ ft
(2100+ m)
22 miles
(35 km)
A steep, heavily crevassed route, which starts with a very long (and somewhat up-and-down) traverse from the Mt Baker ski area, which negates the advantage of the high starting point. Combined with the Coleman Glacier route, it forms a challenging ski traverse route first done in 1939. A ski traverse via the easier Easton-Coleman combination was done earlier in 1932.
Boulder Glacier
2800 ft
(850 m)
8000 ft
(2400 m)
16 miles
(26 km)
A good alternative to the crowds and noise on the Easton. However, the Boulder Glacier was greatly reduced in mass by a lahar (volcanic mudflow) in 1988, and might be too broken up for good skiing except early in season.
Other Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
Ptarmigan Ridge/
Sholes Glacier

4200 ft
(1300 m)
3000 ft
(900 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
Many ski tour possibilities which are easily accessible by traversing from the Mt Baker ski area. Good summer skiing. This is also the lower portion of the Park Glacier route.
Hadley Peak/
Chowder Ridge

4700 ft
(1400 m)
2800 ft
(900 m)
10 miles
(16 km)
Another good route for summer and even fall skiing. Can connect with a traverse across Mazama Glacier over to Sholes Glacier and Ptarmigan Ridge.

Upcoming additions: Topographic map showing all ski routes.
Full page descriptions and photos of Easton and Coleman routes.

| Panoramic northwestern view of Mount Baker from upper Heliotrope Ridge in June 1999;
Coleman Glacier lies in the middle distance below the 10760 ft summit dome,
with Colfax Peak (9420 ft) at right, the highest of the Black Buttes.
(digitally composited from two photos by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

| Mount Baker and the Easton Glacier in late August;
view looking north from the Railroad Grade
(photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

Useful Web Links:

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest: Home Page
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest: Recreation Reports
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest: Trail Reports for Mt Baker Ranger District
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest: Road Reports
National Weather Service Office: Seattle, WA
Yahoo! Weather: Mount Baker, WA, Forecast
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Mount Baker

List of Guidebooks:  (detailed references on the bibliography page)

100 Classic Ski Routes in WA Coleman, Easton, Boulder, Sholes Glaciers (skiing info)
Wild Snow Easton Glacier route only(skiing info)
Cascade Alpine Guide (Vol. 3) All routes, including approaches(detailed climbing info)
Selected Climbs in the Cascades Easton Glacier and North Ridge(detailed climbing info)
Selected Climbs in the Cascades (Vol. 2) Park Glacier(detailed climbing info)
Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes All major routes(brief climbing info)

More photos, routes, links, references, etc. coming soon...
Please contact me with any suggestions, additions, or corrections.

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Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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