Rising to 10,781feet with a nearly 9,000 feet prominence from sea level, MountBaker demands to be climbed. When viewed from nearby Bellingham, her relief is dramatic! For those wishing to climb Baker, it would be wise to know that after Mount Rainier to the south, Baker is the most glaciated mountain in the lower 48. Indigenous peoples called the mountain Kulshan before white settlers renamed the geological wonder. Kulshan is translated into a multitude of names including “white sentinel,” “puncture wound,” and “crater.”
Prepare for record-breaking snowfall at this mountain
Baker is geographically positioned to get a ridiculous amount of snow thanks to its gifted position in the range. Mount Baker lies west of a large portion of the Cascades, leaving it a prime dumping ground for any moisture moving in from the Pacific. Due to this geography, Mount Baker can see as much as 50 feet of snowfall per year. It also holds the record for the highest single-season snowfall in the world after the 1998-1999 winter dumped 95 feet of snow! Due to this fact, Mount Baker is heavily glaciated and requires thorough knowledge of glacier travel. More about that next.
My favorite routes and climbs at the Baker summit
There are many many routes that lead to the summit of Mount Baker, but the three most popular, and in my opinion most classic, are the Coleman Deming Glacier, The North Ridge, and the Easton Route. While the Eastman Route is the easiest trek, it also allows for snowmobiles making it the least appealing of the main lines to the summit. The Coleman Deming route follows named glaciers from the Heliotrope trailhead. You’ll head first to the Coleman glacier then up to a saddle between Colfax Peak and Baker’s summit where the Deming glacier is encountered. This takes you to the summit.
The North Ridge is as much an artistic expression of a climb as it is an exceptional mountain route! A similar approach as for the Coleman-Deming, one makes their way to Hogsback camp in a short approach. From camp, gentle glacier travel brings you to two options for a steep snow ramp/gulley to the ridge-proper. Typically, I prefer the left when it is not melted out, since it has less ice and rock-fall hazard. From here, amazing, low-angle glacier ice climbing is encountered transitioning into a low-angle glacier all the way to the summit. A beautiful line indeed!
The best time of year to climb Mount Baker
Typically the season on Mount Baker will run from May to August. Prime climbing season is similar to Rainier: July through early August. Because of its high snowfall, bridges of snow covering crevasses can last longer here than on Rainier. As climate change continues to raise temperatures on the mountain, however, seasonally this is becoming less common. At times, routes can be left near-impassable due to crevasses being too wide to navigate. No permits are required to climb Baker. Although to park your car at any of the trailheads, a Northwest Forest Pass can be attained online for $30. Although this is the case, it is highly advised that you register for free for your safety. Registration will allow the park to know that you are on the mountain should you need a rescue!