Mt. Baker is an awesome arena for building alpine climbing skills. It holds the US snowfall record, at 1,140 inches! It also has one of the shortest approaches to the toe of a glacier anywhere in the United States. This program is a great way to build ice climbing and advanced glacier travel skills close to camp, without much commitment. It’s a great classroom and we’re excited to take you there.
Building Alpine Skills
On day one of this program, we’ll hike into Mirkwood camp at 4800′. As soon as we’re done setting up camp, we’ll head down to the glacier and go ice climbing. The lower Coleman Glacier has fantastic opportunities for learning and practicing skills for alpine climbing. Over the course of our four day program you’ll learn about integrating crampons and ice-tools into your movement focusing on efficiency and security. We’ll practice placing and removing ice protection, building anchors and self-anchoring.
Traveling in the Alpine
We’ll consider moving to successively higher camps as the trip continues. There are reasons for and against these choices. Some of those reasons, like weather and route conditions, won’t be known until we arrive and assess the mountain. You will learn, alongside your guide, about decision-making, route selection and strategies for successful alpine-style climbs. Along the way, you will be learning and practicing a progression of skills that will help you reach the summit on this and future adventures.
We will usually attempt to reach the summit on the 3rd day of our program. Leaving time for additional skills or a quick descent on the 4th day. However, we may adjust the itinerary if you and your guide believe that a change in plans is the best way to meet your personal and educational goals for the trip. In some cases, weather and route conditions will dictate a change in strategy to maximize the chance of summiting. It is always better to be working on skills in poor weather than to be high up on the mountain!