Mount Baker-Coleman/Upper Deming Route

This is another report from one Baker's less technical routes, the Coleman/Upper Deming. Accompanying me on the trip was Chris Mattson and Tom Thompson. Chris gets out enough that this type of climb isn't too painful, but Tom, well lets just say that Tom doesn't get out as much. Since Tom doesn't get out quite as much we decided to camp 3000' above the normal camp and bivy at the 9000' saddle between Colfax Peak and Grant Peak, the main summit of Baker. The extra 3000' feet wasn't to make the trip painful for Tom, but because the saddle is a cool place to bivy. After following the Heliotrope Ridge Trail to the fork (climber's route to the right, moraine to the left), we headed up the Hogback to the Coleman Glacier (c.6000'). We roped up and started up the glacier. A well beaten boot pack lead around a few crevasses to the flatter area above. We hadn't started too early and we were basically in the clouds until about 8000'. 

Chris on the Coleman Glacier, above the clouds


Tom on the Coleman Glacier

We reached the notch somewhere around 7:00pm and set up camp (bivy bags) at the saddle. There are at least two small sites on the cleaver and plenty of space on the snow if you are willing to do a little digging. After setting up camp, I decided to check out Colfax Peak. The climb sounded pretty simple when I read about it in the climbing guide, but getting to the summit doesn't seem all that easy. I started up, keeping left of the burgschrund by traversing onto 45 degree snow then climbing to a short melted out gully to gain the ridge. Snow let to a steep drop to a saddle between a false summit and Colfax Peak. The step was crumbly rock or steep snow with a burgschrund extending to the rock. I would have to settle for sunset view there.

Baker from a false summit on Colfax Peak


The view to the north


The Sisters Range to Puget Sound


The false summit of Colfax Peak from Camp. You can barely see me left of the rocky crest, just above the bottom.

I returned to camp feeling rejected by Colfax Peak. We awoke at 3:00am and departed camp around 4:00am. In about an hour and a half we took the last few steps to the summit. The sun was just beginning to rise, we were right on time. I was feeling a little less rejected now.

Sunrise from the summit of Mt. Baker


Tom and Chris enjoying the views

We descended back to camp and Tom and I made a half-hearted decision to try to traverse around the false summit of Colfax Peak. By 8:00am we were all on our way down the Coleman while several other teams continued upward. The snow conditions had been perfect for crampons on the Deming and our early descent meant we had good conditions all the way back to the top of the Hogback. This was an enjoyable outing due to conditions and of course the company. 

Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 3, Second Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 29, 30, 31
100 Classic Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes in Washington; Rainer Burgdorfer; Pages 48-50
Alpine Select; Kevin McLane; Pages 344-345
Summit Guide to the Cascade Volcanoes; Jeff Smoot; Pages 42-43, 49
Climbing Washington's Mountains; Jeff Smoot; Pages 24-29
100 Classic Hikes in Washington; Ira Spring and Harvey Manning; Pages 26-27