Words and photos by Sharon Bader and Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.
A 3am start from Vancouver found us @ the Heliotrope ridge trailhead at 6am after a skin from our parking spot. Despite some recent new snow we drove to within 1km of the trailhead and started from 1000m. We got to 3100m just 100m shy of the summit. The Roman Headwall whumpfed. We discussed digging a pit. None of us were crazy about where we were standing if we were wrong and were standing on a hard (wind) slab that might fail – a slide would take us off the Headwall and either into slots on the Coleman or the Deming.
To top it off the weather was rapidly turning to poo so we cut our bets. We skied breakable windslab off the Roman headwall – then beautiful powder turns down the Coleman Glacier and Heliotrope Ridge. It rained on us all the way back down the trail to the car. We were back to huge burritos in Sumas at El Nopal at 3.30 pm – about 12 hours after we left Vancouver
Phil at the 1100m trailhead marker @ 6am contemplating going up 2,000 vertical metres in alpine boots and Dukes!
Lenticular over Mt Baker as we break out past the trees
More lenticular action – the scale of the terrain is mind-boggling
Phil’s Dukes and alpine boots make him go faster and break trail on the lower slopes just before the Coleman Glacier proper
Clouds were building in the valley from where we came behind Sharon as we neared the glacier @ 830am
Sharon is a big fan of the high alpine winds dying off and the way the blue sky matches her blue jacket. Bakers’ Roosevelt Glacier is in the foreground
Nearing a slot complex in the Coleman we contemplate a way through then find our way.
As we crested the Coleman – Deming pass and started skinning up the Roman headwall behind us (about a vertical km below us) clouds started building from the south. And they don’t look like little wee clearing clouds.
When the windslab on the approach headwall whumpfs, when the lower elevation clouds start building …. even though the summit is just 100m away, sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. A heavily crevassed Deming Glacier with the remnants of a recent serac-triggered sz 2 avalanche is the background.
Sharon is OK with having climbed 98% of Mt Baker
Chris is OK with it too
Our tracks off the Coleman Glacier. Clouds now envelop the (heavily photoshopped to show the tracks) summit dome.
It was highly variable visibility on the way down and we took advantage of brief windows so we didn’t ski into any slots. Here Phil charges the last bit of snow – which was still good skiing in powder all the way to 2000m!!!