If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at mountaineering but didn’t know where to start, this three-day option may just well be for you! At 3,286 metres, Mount Baker is the third highest peak in Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, and can be seen from the Canadian cities of Victoria and Vancouver on a clear day.
An active volcano, Baker (also known as Koma Kulshan) is second only to Mount Saint Helens for thermal activity in the Cascade Range, and second only to Mount Rainier for glaciation, with its 12 glaciers covering 20 square miles. Although only first summited in 1868, Alpine Ascents calls Baker “the quintessential northwest glacier” that is popular with beginners and pros alike.
This adventure is designed to be part-instructional, part-summit attempt. Participants will learn the basics of glacier mountaineering, including self-arrest training, rope work and ice-axe use. With a 3:1 climber to guide ratio and a maximum of nine climbers, the program is renowned for its individual instruction and attention to safety.
All participants need to be in excellent physical condition, and though no previous mountaineering experience is necessary, it is required that everyone has experience with backpacking and camping. The first day will be spent hiking from subalpine meadows at 3,400 feet, through old growth forest and past high alpine meadows to Sandy Camp at 6,100 feet, where you tent up for the night, perched on the mountainside.
After breakfast on the second day, training will continue, as well as discussion of the plan for summit day, followed by an early night. The third day begins at midnight with a trek to the top of the 7,000-foot Easton moraine, then up the Easton Glacier to the crater rim at 9,800 feet. After gazing into the steaming crater, the final push will commence to the 10,781-foot summit, before returning to the base.
Definitely a way to do Baker—and make new friends—if you’re up for the challenge! And of course, this is considered a challenging adventure, so come prepared!
ALPINE ASCENTS INTERNATIONAL
- Phone: 206.378.1927
- Length/Depart: 3 days/June, July, Aug., Sept., with multiple departs
- Accommodation: Camping
- Price: $995 USD
- Difficulty: Challenging, but geared to beginners wanting to learn the basics of climbing and mountaineering.
- By Simon Vaughan, Senior Editor/Special Travel Advisor for Outpost Travel Media