Baring Mountain-West Ridge/South Slope 

Baring Mountain, more commonly referred to as Mount Baring, is one of those peaks that is hard not to notice. Just east of the town of Baring, its twin peaks stand high on the north side of highway 2. The highest and simplest of the two summits to reach is the north peak (6125') which also has routes of great difficulty (Grade V, 5.10 type stuff). The South Peak (6010')seems relatively simple from the gap between the north and south peaks. The epic story of the struggle to make the first ascent on the North Face is detailed in the Cascade Alpine Guide and is well worth reading. I was accompanied on this trip by Elan Mastin, originally from Flatville Florida. This may be the mystery climber who was seen on Whitechuck Mountain, but I can't be sure.

Baring Mountain from SW (March '02)

We were off to a late start (we had lunch at the Sultan Bakery before the climb to give you an idea of how late). From Sultan we drove highway 2 to Barclay Creek Road (FST 6024), in or near the town of Baring (it's so hard to tell). We followed the road to its end (about 4 miles) where there were cars lining both sides of the road for hundreds of feet. After parking we walked to the Barclay Lake trailhead. There is an abandoned logging road just uphill of the trail to Barclay Lake, this is where the route up Mount Baring begins. This is bear country, or is it bare country? Either way it is best to make some noise so that no bear is taken by surprise. This will also give far warning to anyone bare at the open air toilet behind a big boulder 50 feet down the old road. 

We hiked up the road for a couple hundred yards to a cairn and a steep, muddy gully leading uphill. We started up the gully and went up a couple of hundred feet where we couldn't tell if the path continued up the gully or not. A faint path exited on the left so we followed it upward through steep forest and light brush. Eventually we reached the real trail and travel was a bit easier but continued to be a steep hike with the occasional use of vegetation for aid. At about 4000' the path reached the west ridge of Baring. We began up the ridge and followed it for about about a half mile gaining only 300 feet of elevation when we reached a cliffy section of the ridge. The path descended slightly to the right and traversed into a wooded gully. Following the path we hiked up the gully to again reach the west ridge where we got a view of the rest of the route.

The talus basin, gully and summit of Baring Mountain

From the ridge crest we descended into a talus basin then up a talus gully to the gap between the north and south peaks. There was fresh snow near the top of the gully were the south peak provides shade all day. From the gap we ascended to the summit via a bit of scrambling but mostly hiking on heather and talus. There is a path much of the way. The summit views were nice with autumn colors and thin patches of fresh snow. This was the first summit that Elan had been on that had a summit register, and being from Flatville Florida, she was happy to sign it.

The South Peak


Elan signing the summit register


Gunn and Merchant Peaks

After spending some time on the summit, we headed down. We retraced the path to the 4000' spot on the ridge crest then continued down the north slope toward Barclay Creek until we reached the steep, wet, nasty gully just above the abandoned logging road. The gully was not the best way down as far as we could see so we went right into the forest where we had gone up. Nearly all of the cars that were parked at the trailhead were gone but we had only seen one other person on Baring. I was under the impression that this was a popular climb but this may not be the case.

Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 2, Second Edition; Fred Beckey; Page 38
Climbing Washington's Mountains; Jeff Smoot; Pages167-169