Coleman Deming - 2016

September 1, 2016 - Coleman-Deming Glacier 
Autumn is here! 
The leaves are changing color and winter is fast approaching, but many climbing parties are still enjoying the route to the summit of Mount Baker. Heliotrope Ridge Trail is clear of snow and in excellent condition to Hogsback Camp, which offers at least 30 tent pads and plenty of running water.

This week, freezing levels dropped to about 6500 feet and some new snow fell on the mountain. Climbers should be aware that this may hide crevasses and cover the bootpack, making navigation more challenging. Between Hogsback Camp and Black Buttes, the route travels over mainly dry glacier. A number of significant crevasses have opened up in this section and some parties have been observed accessing the glacier farther to the west before angling southeasterly toward Black Buttes. The hanging ice on Colfax Peak continues to be active and all parties should avoid stopping beneath this hazard. Some of the largest crevasses on the route are just below Coleman Saddle. Most parties have been able to navigate this section safely, but all climbers should assess snow bridges and crevasse crossings during their ascent and descent. Pumice Ridge is still mostly snow free and the rock band on the Roman Wall is melted out.
Fresh snow above 6500 feet. 
Remember to carry extra clothing, gloves, goggles, and a warm hat on your summit attempt. The weather can be unstable this time of year and it is important to be prepared for a storm. It is also a good idea to use a GPS with a track function, or mark the route with wands, so that you can easily follow your route back to camp if visibility is poor.

Always remember to pack out all human waste and garbage, including marking wands. Blue bags are available for free from the USFS Service Centers in Glacier and Sedro Woolley. Please help us keep the mountain clean. Thanks and happy climbing!

August 1, 2016 - Coleman-Deming Glacier 
Hogsback Camp and Mount Baker.
The climbing season is in full swing! With warm temperatures, amazing sunsets, and wildflowers blooming, this is a great time of year to visit Mount Baker. Heliotrope Ridge Trail is clear of snow and in excellent condition. Hogsback Camp offers 25-30 dry tent pads, and running water is available throughout the area.

Hundreds of climbers have reached the summit via the Coleman-Deming Route the past few weeks and most have reported good conditions. Corn snow still exists on much of the route, except for a few sections of bare glacier that have begun to melt out. Suncups have developed on most aspects. The route from Hogsback Camp to Black Buttes is still relatively direct, although a few large crevasses are beginning to appear above camp, and all parties should use caution when navigating this section. Above Black Buttes, climbers have encountered areas of significant breakup at approximately 8000 feet and 8900 feet, not far below Coleman Saddle. Climbers have found solid snow bridges and safe routes across these sections, but summer temperatures will melt the snowpack quickly, and all climbers should assess crevasse crossings during their ascent and descent. The current bootpack also travels through a large area of debris that is created by frequent ice avalanches coming from Colfax Peak. All parties should avoid stopping in this area, and move through it quickly while listening and watching for signs of falling ice. Pumice Ridge is snow free at this time and the rock band on the upper Roman Wall is partially melted out.  
The bootpack from Black Buttes to Coleman Saddle.
Move quickly through the debris field beneath Colfax Peak. 
Pumice Ridge is melted out. Be careful not to knock loose rocks onto parties below you. 
The bootpack up the Roman Wall is currently very direct. 
On average, it takes 5-7 hours to reach the summit and 2-4 hours to descend. Climbing teams usually depart camp for summit attempts between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. in order to avoid being on the glacier during the hottest period of the day. Remember to carry extra water, clothing, and food on your summit attempt. The weather can change rapidly and it is important to be prepared for a long day exposed to the elements. The climbing rangers also recommend that each rope team carries a form of shelter (sleeping bag/emergency bivy), a stove, pot, and fuel, and a communication device such as a SPOT or InReach.
Climbers descending from Coleman Saddle. 
Always pack out all garbage and human waste using blue bags or another system. Carry extra blue bags with you on your summit attempt in case nature calls while you are still on the glacier. Poop buried in snow will not biodegrade and will negatively impact the quality of our water. It will also melt out and be visible to all climbers who follow behind you. None of us like to see that sort of thing in an otherwise pristine alpine environment. Please do not ruin the experience for everyone just because you would rather not deal with your own feces. Blue bags are available for free from the USFS Service Centers in Glacier and Sedro Woolley. Stop in, pick some up, and register for your climb. Thanks and happy climbing!

July 17, 2016 - Coleman-Deming Glacier

Although the month of July has not been its clear and sunny self here in the Pacific Northwest, climbing parties have still found good weather windows to summit Mt. Baker via the Coleman Deming Route.

The Heliotrope Ridge Trail is very muddy due to recent rains. Hiking boots and gaitors are encouraged. Please do your best and remain on the trail through muddy areas to prevent trail widening and trail spurs. Creek crossings have been manageable as the overcast weather has prevented any accelerated melt and thus high water levels. Nonetheless, use caution while crossing all creeks. Trekking poles can be very helpful while travelling over wet rocks and logs.

Tent pads at Hogsback Camp are mostly melted out with ample running water nearby. If you happen to arrive on a busy weekend and there are no vacant, established or otherwise well used campsites available, please carefully select an area to make camp without pitching your tent on the fragile alpine vegetation. Practice LNT techniques and camp on durable surfaces to preserve this area for future visitors.

The Coleman-Deming route is still quite direct as it travels from Hogsback Camps to the Black Buttes. This section will become much more broken up by crevasses over the next month. All parties should travel roped up immediately after leaving Hogsback Camp for this reason. Climbers should minimize their time on route below Colfax Peak. The peak has a substantial section of unstable icefall that has recently cleaved off and deposited its debris in close proximity to the route. Also be conscientious to not kick rocks onto other parties while on Pumice Ridge.

All overnight users are asked to use blue bags to collect and remove their human waste from the mountain. Get your blue bags free of charge from the Sedro Woolley or Glacier USFS visitor centers and register for your climb. Enjoy your time on the mountain!

June 24, 2016 - Coleman-Deming Glacier

Trail: Heliotrope Ridge Trail is open and clear of snow to the top of Hogsback Ridge. Some muddy sections.

Camps: 15-20 dry tent pads available at Hogsback Camp. Running water throughout the area. Please remember to pack out all garbage and human waste using blue bags or another system. Avoid moving rocks or creating large walls around tents because this can cause damage to fragile alpine plants. When away from your camp, store food in animal-proof containers or mound it in the middle of your tent with all zippers closed. Mice, marmots, and ravens will be active in coming weeks.
Dry tent sites are available at Hogsback Camp. 
Running water is available around camp. 
Recent storms have deposited fresh snow above 5000 feet. 

Snow Level: 5500 feet.
Snow Conditions: Recent fresh snow above 5000 feet with as much as a foot of accumulation on the summit. Smooth skiing conditions with almost no sun cups. Be aware that recent snow may have covered crevasses that were open earlier in the season.
Be careful to avoid crevasses that have been thinly covered by recent snow. 

Smooth conditions on the lower section of the Coleman Glacier. 
Route: Many climbers and skiers have reached the summit of Mount Baker via the Coleman-Deming Route in the past few weeks. Recent snowfall has hidden some crevasses that were open earlier in the season, including the crevasses on the first section of the climb, directly above Hogsback Camp. All parties should make careful assessments of the route to avoid crevasses that have been thinly covered.  Nevertheless, climbers have generally found a direct route from camp to Coleman Saddle. Pumice Ridge is still mostly snow covered with a few rocks beginning to show. The rock band on the Roman Wall is not yet visible. Thanks and happy climbing!

Excellent skiing conditions on the not far from camp. 
All photos courtesy of Freya Fennwood.

June 10, 2016 - Coleman-Deming Glacier

Welcome to the Coleman-Deming Glacier! The mountain is in great shape and it's been a beautiful spring. Come up and enjoy the wilderness.
Early summer conditions on the north side.
Road: Glacier Creek Road is open and clear to Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead.

Trail: Heliotrope Ridge Trail is mostly clear of snow for the first 2 miles. Creek crossings are also mostly snow free. Some muddy sections and a few downed trees.

Camps: Nearly a dozen dry campsites at Hogsback Camp. Running water readily available. Be sure to pack out all human waste and ot
her garbage using blue bags or another system. Blue bags are available for free from the USFS public service centers in Glacier and Sedro Woolley. Stop in, register for your climb, and pick some up. Help us keep the mountain clean!
Dry sites at Hogsback Camp. 
Smooth conditions for skiing and boarding. 
Snow level: 5,250 feet.
Snow observations: Consolidated corn snow below 8,000 feet with little to no sun cups. 1 to 8 inches of new snow above 8000 feet.

Route: The Coleman-Deming Route has seen many successful  summit attempts this season. The route is direct from Hogsback to the Black Buttes, and then on to the Coleman saddle and summit. Although snow bridges are showing minimal deterioration, the recent warm temps have begun to speed up the melt. All climbing parties should assess snow bridges prior to crossing and use protection if necessary. Climbers have been seen giving the Colfax Peak icefall a wide berth as they cross beneath this unstable section of the route. Rangers remind all climbers to minimize their time below this feature and to never stop here for lunch, a break, of to setup camp. Currently the large crevasse just before reaching the Coleman Saddle is being end run to the climber's left by most parties. All climbing parties are urged to use caution and be attentive of their parties while gaining Pumice Ridge. The rock band on the Roman Wall is still snow covered.
Some crevasses beginning to open above Hogsback Camp. 
Thanks and happy climbing!