Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt. Baker (10,781’) & Sherman Peak (10,140’) – 10/25/08
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Tom_Sjolseth
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday
PostSun Oct 26, 2008 1:12 am 
Mt. Baker (10,781’) & Sherman Peak (10,140’) – October 25, 2008

Last weekend, I headed up to climb Colfax, Sherman, and Baker.  We were only able to manage Colfax and Baker on that trip, so I called on Justus to head up there with me this weekend to take care of unfinished business.  We were also to climb Mt. Baker (for the 2nd time in a week for me), since Justus hadn’t climbed it.  In fact, this would be Justus' first volcano AND glacier climb.  It sounded like a full day, especially with the short October days, so we set an unusually early meeting time of 4AM at Justus’ house, and gave it a go.

After the requisite stops for breakfast and trail provisions, Justus and I arrived at a deserted Shriebers Meadows TH at 6:20.  After 20 minutes of packing and remarking how cold it was, we set off at 6:40, with headlamps burning.   We took the first right turn off the main trail, and headed up towards the Squak Glacier, the most direct route to climb Sherman Peak (and Mt. Baker, for that matter).

The trail gains 2000’ over 3 miles before we headed up cross-country to gain the toe of the Squak Glacier.  The glacier appeared to be in fantastic shape, with ice hard snow down low.  This ice hard snow would later turn into calf to knee-deep powder higher up, a different experience than last week where I encountered ice-hard snow all the way to the summit.

The route later became a bit circuitous, as we had to dodge crevasses.  We wound up heading towards the Easton Glacier, which seemed less crevassed.    We saw a team of three climbers toting skis heading up the Easton Glacier.  I thought it might be Jason Hummel, who was supposed to be summitting this weekend (although he stated he wasn’t planning on summitting until Sunday, via a different route).  Later on, we found out it was not.

As we ascended towards Sherman Peak, the winds increased considerably.  We had been watching a plume of blowing snow coming off the Coleman side of the summit block, and it looked rather ominous.  We pressed on in increasing winds towards Sherman.  When we got to about 9800’, the wind was so powerful, we had to crouch down and self-belay with our axes so we wouldn’t get blown off.  I figured the average wind speed was 35-40MPH, with gusts upwards of 75MPH.  Justus disagreed, but these were some of the strongest winds I’ve ever encountered.  At times, ice would break off in the wind and come down in huge showers, which sounded like breaking chandeliers.  Managing the narrow ridge in these winds was a bit nerveracking (and tiring).  Every time the wind gusted, ice chunks would hit us in the face, affecting our sight and balance.  We barely made it to the exposed summit without being peeled off.

We wanted to get off of Sherman as fast as possible, so we quickly headed back down to the base of the peak, where we encountered the three skiers we saw heading up the Easton Glacier.  They were WWU students out for the day.  We were jealous of their skis, as they would certainly get down the mountain much faster than us.  On the flipside, though, the ski conditions were terrible, with good-sized neve penitentes everywhere.  We spoke with the skiers and they were headed up to Baker’s summit.  Justus and I discussed heading up, and we decided to give it a go as well, even though we were exhausted already from battling high winds and postholing.  Justus and I led off, breaking trail towards the summit.  It was a long, slow 1300’ slog to Baker’s true summit from the base of Sherman Peak.  The winds were still humming, but [thankfully] not nearly as much as they were on Sherman.  Justus and I tagged the summit, took some photos, and at 4:40PM, began to descend.  Darkness sets in at ~6:30 this late in the season, and so we were in a hurry to get off the glacier before it did.

On the way down, we passed the WWU skiers still heading up to the summit.  They looked about as worked as we were.  Luckily, though, they had skis and would be able to descend rapidly back to the glacier’s toe.  Not so lucky for us!

This was a fantastic trip with gorgeous views, and perfect fall lighting.  Very good photo opportunities!  Justus was a great partner (as always) on this outing, and what a way to climb his first volcano - in a day.

Sherman Peak was my 98th summit on the Top 100 x P400 list.  Only Luna (#99) and Castle (#100) remain.

Justus approaching on the lower snow slopes.
Justus approaching on the lower snow slopes.
The route to Sherman Peak from below.
The route to Sherman Peak from below.
The Black Buttes.
The Black Buttes.
Justus trying to dodge the wind near Sherman's summit.
Justus trying to dodge the wind near Sherman's summit.
The view accross the crater from Sherman.
The view accross the crater from Sherman.
More views from a gap in Sherman's W Ridge.
More views from a gap in Sherman's W Ridge.
Justus traversing in high winds - notice the airborne ice chunks.
Justus traversing in high winds - notice the airborne ice chunks.
Mt. Shuksan as seen from the summit of Sherman.
Mt. Shuksan as seen from the summit of Sherman.
Justus descending Sherman in high winds.  Notice the plume.
Justus descending Sherman in high winds.  Notice the plume.
Justus and the first skier approaching Baker's summit.
Justus and the first skier approaching Baker's summit.
The view to the W from the summit of Baker.
The view to the W from the summit of Baker.
Lincoln and Colfax just before dusk.
Lincoln and Colfax just before dusk.
Sunset on the Sisters Range.
Sunset on the Sisters Range.

Trip Stats:
-15 miles
-8800’ gain
-14.5 hours RT
-3.5 hours of sleep on Friday night

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EastKing
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EastKing
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 2:17 am 
Tom,

You are a beast! Knocking off Baker TWICE!!  up.gif  up.gif  along with the side peak within a week commands serious respect! And Baker is one of the easier climbs you have done this year.  up.gif Great trip report and photos!! up.gif  up.gif

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I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

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Justus S.
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Justus S.
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 3:05 pm 
First off, I'd like to thank Tom for suggesting the trip and making it a great climb. It was simply beautiful up there. Not only that, Baker would be my first volcano and tallest peak climbed. I also have to give props to Tom for putting in the steps up the final slopes of Baker. I was simply exhausted. This was certainly one of the most difficult trips I've done.


We arrived early and headed up the trail in the dark. Fresh snow was on the trail further up.
early morning on the trail
early morning on the trail

We left the trail and were soon traveling up the glacial moraines.
Heading up the glacial moraines
Heading up the glacial moraines

As we approached the toe of the glacier it was nice to see the clouds breaking. 
Clouds beginning to break
Clouds beginning to break
Mist below
Mist below

We finally broke above the clouds. It was glorious! 
Breaking above the clouds
Breaking above the clouds
Snow, Rock, and Sky
Snow, Rock, and Sky

It was great hiking up in the warm sunshine in these beautiful surroundings. 
Tom and Sherman far above
Tom and Sherman far above
Crevasses
Crevasses
Sun and the rising mist
Sun and the rising mist
Tom and Colfax
Tom and Colfax
Tom making his way up
Tom making his way up
Lincoln and Colfax begin to appear
Lincoln and Colfax begin to appear
Lincoln and mist
Lincoln and mist
Tom and Lincoln Peak
Tom and Lincoln Peak

Even with the warm sun it would get cold if you stopped for a bit. 
Prepared for the cold
Prepared for the cold

With the low lying clouds not many peaks were tall enough to show themselves. The clouds below were pretty cool. 
Glaciers and Glacier Peak
Glaciers and Glacier Peak
Clouds and Ice
Clouds and Ice

We spotted some skiers far below.
Skiers far below
Skiers far below

After hiking up and up and up Sherman was finally close at hand.
Nearing Sherman
Nearing Sherman
Baker, Sherman saddle
Baker, Sherman saddle
Lincoln and Colfax
Lincoln and Colfax
Tom taking in the views
Tom taking in the views
Yeah!!!
Yeah!!!
Crater
Crater
Looking back down the ridge of Sherman
Looking back down the ridge of Sherman
Shuksan
Shuksan
Tom making his way up the final slopes of Sherman
Tom making his way up the final slopes of Sherman

It was great to reach the lofty summit. 
Tom on the summit of Sherman
Tom on the summit of Sherman

Now it was time to head to Baker. It was a lot of work, but reaching the top was great. The mountain just dwarfs its surroundings.
Sherman for Baker's summit
Sherman for Baker's summit
Shuksan from Baker
Shuksan from Baker
Baker Lake from Baker
Baker Lake from Baker

We headed out as it was getting late. The evening light was spectacular. 
Evening over the Sisters Range
Evening over the Sisters Range
Tom descending in the alpenglow
Tom descending in the alpenglow
Skiers
Skiers
Evening glow on Sherman
Evening glow on Sherman
Evening light on the Black Buttes
Evening light on the Black Buttes
Sun setting over the Sisters
Sun setting over the Sisters

An awesome trip!

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Mike Collins
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Mike Collins
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 5:02 pm 
The two of you are the Dynamic Duo of the Cascades. Strong work. Glad you weren't blown off the rim into the fumerole. At least the wind blew the sulfur smell away for you.

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bobbi
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bobbi
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 5:22 pm 
i got back from a day hike feeling warm from the effort, then i read your TR....booommmm!  i got cold.

you guys got some fantastic photos on such a great october weekend!

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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Tazz
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 5:23 pm 
oh yeah!!!  nice!  up.gif

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Randy
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Randy
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 5:37 pm 
Thanks for bringing Baker and Sherman to my living room. Nice to enjoy them with my feet up and without the wind. Way to make the most of a nice October day.

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Layback
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Layback
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 6:59 pm 
Nice work guys.  Awesome seeing a TR for Sherman.   up.gif

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Don
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Don
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 7:14 pm 
Gallant effort, especially by Tom two weeks in a row!  Also, excellent pics.  Who thinks of climbing Mt. Baker in October?  Oh, I guess that question has already been answered.  Any idea what the temps were on the summit?

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Tom_Sjolseth
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday
PostSun Oct 26, 2008 7:23 pm 
Don, if I had to guess, I'd say temps on the summit were right around 20-25 degrees -- at the warmest time of day.  Although the windchill was enough to freeze your snot instantly.  I was just warm enough not to sweat while climbing in a base layer, a schoeller top, a pac-lite jacket, and an OR PS50 balaclava.  If I stood around for much time, I needed to don my down.

Thanks for the comments, folks!

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MtnManic
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 7:52 pm 
Very nice pictures - that's how I like to climb - vicariously.

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Backpacking: limited to one pack at a time.  Cameras: limited to as many as I can carry.
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seattlehikertoo
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seattlehikertoo
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 8:08 pm 
You guys just crank. Awesome shots with the summit cone against the sky.

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Josh Lewis
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Josh Lewis
To Heavenly Heights
PostSun Oct 26, 2008 9:14 pm 
Out of this world!
Tom_Sjolseth wrote:
Sunset on the Sisters Range.
Sunset on the Sisters Range.

Incredible photos!! Two thumbs way up!  up.gif  up.gif Very very nice trip report! Know I have to climb Baker! What a beautiful world it is up there! Thanks for sharing! Cheers Josh Lewis.

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· TrailTopo
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Jennifer S.
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Jennifer S.
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PostSun Oct 26, 2008 10:36 pm 
wow, what incredibly gorgeous pics! thanks for sharing.

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Go Jo
of the lykkens



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Go Jo
of the lykkens
PostSun Oct 26, 2008 10:38 pm 
Justus S. wrote:
Tom and Lincoln Peak
Tom and Lincoln Peak

Fantastic photo, outrageous accomplishment! Well done to the 2 of you.

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