Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt Baker (10,781') & Colfax Peak (9,440'+) - 10/18-10/19/08
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Tom_Sjolseth
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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 6:13 am 
David, whom I met on Johannesberg earlier this season, joined me for a climb of Colfax Peak and Mt. Baker this weekend.

David arrived at my house at the leisurely hour of 10:45 on Saturday morning.  From here, we drove to a packed Heliotrope Ridge TH, where we loaded up our gear and skis (wishful thinking), and headed up the well-used trail.

The trail is low-angle with a lot of switchbacks for the first 2.5 miles, then it starts to gain rapidly once it hits the ridge.  We found a great bivy spot at ~6400', above the crowds, and right at the base of the Coleman Glacier.  To our dismay, there was water ice everywhere, so our skis would be useless the following day.  A big difference from last weekend where we encountered an abundance of beautiful powder snow (albeit in a different part of the state).

After cooking dinner, we settled in for the night.  The night was calm and cool, and we slept until 5:30AM.  We ate a quick breakfast, grabbed our climbing gear, and headed out onto the rock-hard Coleman Glacier.

Water ice was abundant.  The entire glacier slope above our bivy site was covered with it.  We were very careful here, as one slip would send you shooting like a rocket back down to the bivy sites (or worse).  We were able to take a fairly direct line through the crevasse field, since most of the crevasses have already been covered.  In our case, they were covered with extremely firm ice/snow, so we weren't too worried about punching through anything.

We gained the Colfax saddle, and decided to climb Colfax first.  We worked our way up the North Ridge, and peeled off to climber's left as terrain forced us to.  The route is pretty exposed, so you don't want to fall, but the terrain is pretty moderate.  The wind was starting to pick up, and so we hustled to the summit.  The views from the summit are really nice.  Lincoln looked especially wicked from this angle and, of course, Assassin Spire which has never been climbed.

Finding a swale to shelter us from the wind, we were able to spend about 20 minutes on the summit, taking photos and resting up for the remainder of our day.  From here, we planned to climb Baker first, then go over and climb Sherman Peak.  Sherman and Colfax are 2 of the final 4 peaks for me to climb on the Top 100 x P400 list.  Only 6 people have completed this list.

From Colfax, we descended the climbing route back to the col, and then went up the pumice ridge to the Roman Wall.  The Roman Wall was all rhimed up, and the surface of the snow was frozen solid, making for easy cramponing.  The wind was still picking up though, and we were constantly getting hit in the face with large chunks of rhime that were breaking off in the wind.

Once atop the Roman Wall, it's a short, flat hike to the true summit of Mt. Baker, which I had visited 3 times prior.  The wind at the summit was a steady 35 MPH, and the temperature was quite cold, so we decided not to stay very long.  From the summit of Baker, we descended down towards the Easton Glacier, on our way over to Sherman Peak.  Not sure where the route was, and running out of time and David's motivation waning, we decided to bag it after dropping 1200' from the summit.  So we traversed back towards the Colfax saddle, and headed back down to camp.

The winds were really picking up in camp, and we counted four lenticular clouds hovering around Baker's summit.  Looks like we got out of there just in time.  We packed up camp in increasing winds, and then shouldered our pigs (with skis and boots) for the final descent to the TH.

All in all, this was a great late-season trip with gorgeous Winter-like views.  And another Top 100 x P400 climbed.  3 left now, in Sherman, Luna, and Castle Peaks.

Sisters Range and Lincoln Peak from the summit of Colfax.
Sisters Range and Lincoln Peak from the summit of Colfax.
Mt. Baker and Sherman Peak from Colfax.
Mt. Baker and Sherman Peak from Colfax.
Mt. Baker from Colfax.
Mt. Baker from Colfax.
Me on the summit of Colfax Peak.
Me on the summit of Colfax Peak.
Lincoln Peak and Assassin Spire from Colfax.  I was here in June.
Lincoln Peak and Assassin Spire from Colfax.  I was here in June.
Looking back at David from the false summit of Colfax.
Looking back at David from the false summit of Colfax.
David descending Colfax Peak.
David descending Colfax Peak.
David descending Colfax Peak 2.
David descending Colfax Peak 2.
David and Colfax Peak.
David and Colfax Peak.
Sherman Peak from the summit of Mt. Baker.
Sherman Peak from the summit of Mt. Baker.
Looking accross the frozen summit plateau of Mt. Baker (with David approaching).
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Looking accross the frozen summit plateau of Mt. Baker (with David approaching).
Looking down on Baker Lake from Mt. Baker's summit.
Looking down on Baker Lake from Mt. Baker's summit.
Huge 'schrund on Mt. Baker.
Huge 'schrund on Mt. Baker.

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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 6:39 am 
Great stuff Tom.  I am looking foward to those P400's going down, so you can get on with your dumpster diving peaks.  wink.gif  hockeygrin.gif

Would you tell me about Assassin Spire?

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Tom_Sjolseth
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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 6:51 am 
Assassin Spire (pictured above next to Lincoln), has never been climbed according to John Roper.  I believe him.  Not only is the spire steep, it's made of rotten conglomerate rock.  In order to climb the Spire, you pretty much climb Lincoln Peak as well.  I don't plan on attempting any kind of FA on that beast, I'm done with Lincoln!

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wildernessed
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wildernessed
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 6:53 am 
up.gif Awesome strike !

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BirdDog
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 7:23 am 
Congarts, good luck on the rest. Nice photos.

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Eric
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 8:16 am 
Quote:
Sherman and Colfax are 2 of the final 4 peaks for me to climb on the Top 100 x P400 list.  Only 5 people have completed this list.

Let's see, John R, Paul K, Silas W and who are the other two finishers?

Nice TR too.

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travis_
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 8:51 am 
Wow, great hike. We were over on Goat Mountain wondering who was up on Baker, here is a picture of one of the awesome lenticular clouds.


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GeoTom
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 8:57 am 
Re: Mt Baker (10,781') & Colfax Peak (9,440'+) - 10/18-10/19
cool.gif Sweet.

Quote:
3 left now, in Sherman, Luna, and Castle Peaks

Those will be tough to combine in one trip  biggrin.gif


Quote:
David, whom I met on Johannesberg earlier this season, joined me for a climb of Colfax Peak and it's parent peak, Mt. Baker this weekend.

Geologically speaking, Colfax (and the Black Buttes in general) could be considered the parent as they are older than the Mt. Baker main cone.  GeoTom = nerd.gif

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robM
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 11:12 am 
nice job, tom. sounds like a fun trip!

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Randy
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 11:34 am 
Nice trip Tom. Let me know when you want to do Luna, I'd like to go in and grab Fury too.

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Jim Dockery
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 11:49 am 
Cool. Nice pix. Too bad you didn't bag Sherman, that would have been a great tripple play. Lots more snow up there than last month when I skied it.

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Matt
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 12:00 pm 
Nice job, guys.

Tom, I'm surprised to hear you don't have Luna yet.  Is that on the 10-day Pickets trip for next year that you mentioned elsewhere?

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Tom_Sjolseth
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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 2:27 pm 
Eric wrote:
Quote:
Sherman and Colfax are 2 of the final 4 peaks for me to climb on the Top 100 x P400 list.  Only 6 people have completed this list.

Let's see, John R, Paul K, Silas W and who are the other two finishers?

Nice TR too.

Venerable Peak Bagger Don Goodman, lightning-fast Dave Creeden (finished this year on Liberty Cap) and superhero Fay Pullen, who also finished this year on Liberty Cap, are the other 3 finishers.

GeoTom:  You are absolutely correct sir.  A worthy distinction.

travis_: cool shot!

Jim Dockery: Believe me, I wanted to grab Sherman, but we would be coming out in the dark given the short days, and the wind was picking up, and David is not a peakbagger, so it was a tough sell.  I reasoned to myself that I could always come back and get it in a day via the Squak Glacier.

Randy & Matt: I plan to get Luna on a 10-day tour of the Pickets next season, coming in via Sourdough Ridge (ala Matt & Co's trip this year), and exiting via Access Creek.  Among others, W & E Fury and Luna and Prophet are prime targets.  Randy, I'll definitely keep you in the loop.

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peltoms
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 3:10 pm 
Awesome shots of Colfax Peak.  What a great tour  biggrin.gif  up.gif

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raising3hikers
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PostMon Oct 20, 2008 6:29 pm 
Way to go on getting Colfax and Baker on the same trip.  up.gif  I think I'll try that on my next Baker climb.

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