Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Ann and Annette (Mt. Baker, Artist Point) 12/5/20
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostSat Dec 12, 2020 6:45 pm 
I've had my eye on Mount Ann as a winter trip for a few years now, largely inspired by Adam and Bryan's ascent in 2012.  There are some avalanche prone slopes on this route to the north of Annette and although they can largely be avoided by careful route selection, it is wise to have stable snow conditions for this trip.  For our trip, it hadn't snowed for 6 days or so and NWAC had a 'low' rating for all zones on the day of our trip.  Trevin and I planned on doing this one as a sunset trip, but it's still a long drive for us.  We met up in Olympia at 5 am and made the 3:30 drive to the trailhead at Mt Baker / Artist Point.  On the way up I had mentioned to Trevin how I had been focused on avoiding people as much as possible on my mountain trips the last few months.  The irony was palpable as we arrived at the PACKED parking lot around 8:30am.  Still, this is an infrequently visited area and I figured as soon as we dropped off Austin Pass we would maybe see a couple people the rest of the day, and this turned out to be the case.  Around 9am we were starting out on our way up to Austin Pass.

Table Mountain
Table Mountain
Hiking up to Austin Pass
Hiking up to Austin Pass

The trail up to Austin Pass / Artist Point was well packed and we just booted it up to the pass.  We overshot the optimal spot to descend and plunge stepped down 600 vertical feet or so until the terrain funneled into a creek basin.  Here we put on our snowshoes and started the traverse.  There was a skin track already laid, which we avoided when possible since we were in snowshoes, but this helped with navigation.  Soon we entered into a bouldery meadow and ran across a pair of skiers.  Another pair soon overtook us.  We were a little jealous how much faster they were able to move on skis, but we had all day and were in no hurry.  Soon all four skiers were ahead of us as we made our way through the forest traverse.  This part of the trip isn't the greatest with a lot of side hill traversing.

About to leave the ski area
About to leave the ski area
Starting the traverse
Starting the traverse
Elements
Elements

As we progressed though we got great peek a boo views of various peaks in the area... Baker, Coleman Pinnacle, Fisher Chimneys, and Ann and Annette.  Soon we found ourselves out of the trees and ready to tackle the steepest section of elevation gain to reach the upper basin between Annette and Anne.

Baker
Baker
Stream crossing
Stream crossing
Coleman Pinnacle
Coleman Pinnacle
Fisher Chimney
Fisher Chimney
Baker and Coleman Pinnacle
Baker and Coleman Pinnacle
Annette and Ann
Annette and Ann

This was the hardest part of the trip.  The skiers ahead of us had taken the traditional switchbacking traverse method to reach the upper basin.  Following their route in fresh snow was difficult and annoying, and poaching their track didn't help much either.  Soon we decided to just head straight uphill and break our own trail.  It got pretty steep in a couple parts but we kept plugging away.  As we ascended the summit pyramid of Shuksan became visible which added to our stoke!  As we crested the final ridge leading to the upper basin the wind picked up a little.  The forecast was for winds in the low teens and we could feel it, but generating heat from all the uphill it wasn't too bad.  We decided to head up Ann first, then head to Annette for sunset.  As we reached the saddle we encountered two of the skiers we had seen earlier.  We chatted a bit.  They were just up there for the touring and didn't summit either peak (neither did the other pair of skiers apparently based on lack of tracks on either summit).  This would be our last people encounter until back at the parking lot.  Despite reading mbravenboer's report suggesting the gentle slopes to the climber's left were better than the direct route straight up the summit, I was lured into the appeal of the direct route straight up the middle.  It was a little sketch in snowshoes and at one point we had to do a facing in side stepping traverse across a steep section.  This part would have been better in crampons, but we made it and soon found ourselves on the summit of our first peak, Mount Ann!

Into the meadow (Herman behind)
Into the meadow (Herman behind)
Ann and some skiers
Ann and some skiers
Shuksan's Summit Pyramid
Shuksan's Summit Pyramid
Trevin with Shuksan and the Fisher Chimneys
Trevin with Shuksan and the Fisher Chimneys
Steep Up (PC Trevin)
Steep Up (PC Trevin)
On the Ridge (PC Trevin)
On the Ridge (PC Trevin)
Skiers on the move
Skiers on the move
Shuksan!
Shuksan!
This is why I wanted to visit this area
This is why I wanted to visit this area
Tarn near Ann
Tarn near Ann
Ups and downs on the way to Ann
Ups and downs on the way to Ann
Ann Summit Block
Ann Summit Block
Nearing the summit of Ann
Nearing the summit of Ann

The views were great!  Mount Baker, Baker Lake, the border peaks, Bluhm and Glacier Peak, and of course the gem of the area Mount Shuksan!

Ann Summit View
Ann Summit View
Shuksan Summit Pyramid
Shuksan Summit Pyramid
Baker
Baker
Bluhm, Baker Lake
Bluhm, Baker Lake

We didn't stay too long, just enough time for a...

Mmmmmm Protein Bar (PC Trevin)
Mmmmmm Protein Bar (PC Trevin)
Ann Summit Shot (PC Trevin)
Ann Summit Shot (PC Trevin)

For the descent and the route to Annette we switched to crampons which worked out great.  We took the more gradual route climbers left and skiers right which is definitely the easier way up/ down.  The snow was wind affected enough that we didn't sink in much in just boots and crampons and the weight savings of not having snowshoes on was nice.  The route up Annette had a couple steep spots but wasn't too bad.  Soon we found ourselves on the summit with just under 2 hours to chill before sunset.

Shuksan at the base of Ann
Shuksan at the base of Ann
Wind swept
Wind swept
One of ~40k steps this trip (PC Trevin)
One of ~40k steps this trip (PC Trevin)
Views on the way to Annette
Views on the way to Annette
Heading to Annette (PC Trevin)
Heading to Annette (PC Trevin)
Annette summit block (route out of frame to the right)
Annette summit block (route out of frame to the right)
Hiking up Annette
Hiking up Annette
Annette Summit
Annette Summit
Near the summit of Annette looking back at Ann / Baker
Near the summit of Annette looking back at Ann / Baker

I think I made a mistake in picking Annette for our sunset peak in terms of photography, but it was definitely the right choice for the experience.  Annette had a nice treed section to block the wind that Ann didn't have and with Shuksan right there in your face it was a great place to chill for a couple hours.  We had dinner and a pu erh tea session with a '16 Gu Shu sheng pu erh from Yunnan Sourcing (tea nerd speak, I know).  It was amazing, and watching the transition of light over Shuksan from white to yellow, gold to orange / red was exactly what I was hoping for.  Well, some clouds would have been nice but I wasn't complaining.  It was an amazing couple hours up there.  We stayed until the sun set, then packed up and started down.

Skuksan from Annette
Skuksan from Annette
Tomyhoi, Border Peaks, Larrabee
Tomyhoi, Border Peaks, Larrabee
Baker from Annette
Baker from Annette
Taking Photos (PC Trevin)
Taking Photos (PC Trevin)
Annette Sunset Panorama
Annette Sunset Panorama
Tea with a view
Tea with a view
Strongest golden hour light on Shuksan
Strongest golden hour light on Shuksan
Trevin watching the sunset
Trevin watching the sunset

I was absolutely giddy descending from Anette.  Glorious sunset, a little tea drunk, and absolutely stoked to be in the mountains!  We stayed in crampons and plunge stepped down the steep slopes north of Annette.  The colors of dusk and the blue hour atmosphere was soothing to the soul.  As we reached the lower meadow the snow became a lot softer and post holing became frequent enough we stopped to put on our snowshoes and turn on our headlamps.  What a killer trip!!!

Time to depart
Time to depart
Shuksan Blue Hour
Shuksan Blue Hour
Baker Lake at Dusk
Baker Lake at Dusk
Descending from Annette, Ann behind
Descending from Annette, Ann behind
Shuksan catching a little alpenglow
Shuksan catching a little alpenglow
Soft plunge stepping
Soft plunge stepping
Back to the lower meadow
Back to the lower meadow
Nautical Twilight
Nautical Twilight
Snowshoes and Headlamps On (Our Sunset Peak, Annette, in the Back)
Snowshoes and Headlamps On (Our Sunset Peak, Annette, in the Back)
The Way Back
The Way Back

The way back was a bit slow and tedious, especially the traverse section.  For the final 600 ft back up to Austin Pass we followed a set of tracks.  Checking my GPS occasionally it became evident the that the tracks were leading back to the ski area east of Panorama Dome, so we cut our own track and did a traverse to get back to the west side of PD and Austin Pass.  We stayed in snowshoes back to the car where we were greeted by a surprising number of parking lot campers.  Fires going, people camping in busses... it looked like a great time!  Alas, I had a solid 4 hours plus drive to get home.  It went fine at first but the last 90 minutes home really sucked.  It was all worth it though for such a glorious day in the mountains!

10-11 miles, my GPS had 3800ft gain, Trevin's over 5000.  11 hours (kinda slow, 2 hours spent for sunset)

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pcg
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pcg
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PostSat Dec 12, 2020 6:54 pm 
awilsondc wrote:
we were greeted by a surprising number of parking lot campers.† Fires going, people camping in busses...

Do you mean the parking lot at Artist Point? I though camping was not allowed there?
Great photos and what a beautiful ski snowshoe tour.

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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostSat Dec 12, 2020 7:07 pm 
pcg wrote:
Do you mean the parking lot at Artist Point? I though camping was not allowed there?

Ok, so the camping part was definitely an assumption on my part.  It was a about 4 hours after sunset when we arrived (8pm).  There were a surprising number of people still there, about a half dozen fires going with people around them in chairs and a group of 6 or so hanging out in a living converted bus.  Maybe they were just hanging out and would leave soon?  I don't know, I didn't talk to anybody.

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Gimpilator
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PostSat Dec 12, 2020 7:11 pm 
Great trip Aaron.  That one stands out to me s one of the finest snowshoe routes in WA.

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Legionnaire
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PostSun Dec 13, 2020 1:03 am 
Yo this is GORGEOUS!! You got amazing shots loved the blue light one! I am doing more winter hiking and had some questions as far as gear goes. I was wondering what brands/models you had of these items:

- Snowshoes
- Crampons/Microspikes
- Gaiters

I am getting more winter gear and my friends are too just want to make sure if we set out to do something liek this what we should have to make it as enjoyable as possible. You said there is some avy danger and to check the report, but do you carry a beacon for something like this or just a GPS? I am a bit of a noob and just want to be safe and smart!

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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostSun Dec 13, 2020 10:17 am 
Legionnaire wrote:
I was wondering what brands/models you had of these items:

- Snowshoes
- Crampons/Microspikes
- Gaiters

I've got MSR EVO ascent's, but the MSR lightning ascent are better.  Crampons, I use Black Diamond Sabertooth, but there are so many good ones out there.  Check out this REI link to help pick the one right for you.  My gaiters are old Mountain Hardware ones I've had close to 15 years, I don't think they make that model anymore.

I didn't bring a beacon for this trip.  I tend to only do trips through avalanche terrain in super stable conditions and at the right time of day.  I prefer to avoid avalanche terrain entirely if possible.  I don't mess around with trips where the risk of an avalanche is high enough that you need to bring the beacon / probe / shovel combo.  Check out this list by the mountaineers for ideas to get up some peaks in the winter safely.  Only pick A/A rated peaks until you know what you are doing.  Always check the NWAC forecast before heading out so you know what the avalanche problems are likely to be.  Read it thoroughly and on a regular basis and you'll start to get an idea.

zimmertr
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Nancyann
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PostTue Dec 15, 2020 9:25 pm 
Aaron, I have the same viewpoint regarding avalanche terrain. I always check the current NWAC forecast carefully before going out to play in the snow. If there is any question about an area, I simply donít go there. Nice trip report and fantastic pictures, by the way!

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MangyMarmot
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PostSun Dec 20, 2020 2:19 pm 
What an awesome trip. That's one of my favorite tours from that area. Great photos as always!

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Bryan K
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PostSun Dec 20, 2020 8:59 pm 
Thanks for dredging up some great memories for me from a while ago. This trip is wonderful and always better with great company. Looks like you had a great day!!!

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