Coleman-Deming Glacier - May 27, 2017
Glacier Creek Road is almost clear of snow, but there is one large patch that continues to block the road about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. We expect this patch to melt within the next week or so, at which time it should be possible to drive very close to Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead. Please remember to park along the side of the road in a fashion that allows other cars to get past and turn around.
Heliotrope Ridge Trail is melting out quickly. It is part snow and part bare trail from the trailhead to about 4500 feet. After that, the trail is completely snow covered to Hogsback and Harrison camps. Most skiers are carrying their skis up to the old Kulshan cabin site and skinning from there. Creek and river crossings can be very hazardous this time of year as snow bridges melt. Choose your route carefully. Also, we observed some places where visitors had been cutting switchbacks, causing damage to vegetation. Please stay on the trail as much as possible.
|Mt Baker from Hogsback Camp. Initial section of route visible on right.|
The snowpack is in good shape. We observed skiers descending the Coleman-Deming route all day long. The snow firmed up overnight and the Roman Wall was reportedly icy in the morning, but had softened by about 11am. Lower down, the snow had become soft and slushy by afternoon. Time your ascent and descent accordingly.
|Camps on the football field. Bootpack heading toward Colfax Peak and Coleman Saddle.|
The climbing route is in good shape, but will be changing rapidly as summer temperatures continue to melt the snowpack. The boot pack and skin track currently travel straight uphill from Hogsback Camp, through the football field, past Black Buttes, and beneath Colfax Peak. We didn't observe any major crevasse crossings in these areas. However, the route does cross through a section of large debris beneath Colfax Peak. This is not a good spot to have lunch or take a break. Move through this section quickly to limit the amount of time you spend beneath the hanging seracs. Some crevasses are beginning to appear below Coleman Saddle, but climbers and skiers are finding direct paths through. Pumice Ridge is still completely covered in snow and the rock band on the Roman Wall has not yet appeared. Grant Peak is still snow covered as well.
|Debris field beneath Colfax Peak. Move through here quickly.|
|Grant Peak is still covered in snow.|
There are still no dry campsites at Hogsback Camp, although half a dozen dry sites are available at Gargoyle Rocks. The creeks are still covered at these elevations, so visitors will have to melt snow for water. Carry extra fuel for this purpose.
Remember to pack out all garbage and human waste! Some visitors have left their poop in the snow around camp. This is not acceptable. Human waste will not biodegrade in the snow. It is unsightly and can contaminate water sources. Bag it up and pack it out. Blue bags are available for free at the USFS Service Stations in Glacier and Sedro Woolley. Please help keep the mountain clean for future visitors.
|Dangerous moat visible in the upper right of photo. Avoid the drainage and stay on the ridge until well away from this hazard.|
As a final note, we would like to remind all climbers, skiers, and hikers about a common hazard that can be particularly dangerous this time of year. In the Kulshan Creek drainage to the west of Hogsback Ridge, at about 5400 feet, there is a moat that develops as the snowpack melts. Later in the summer when the snowpack is gone, it is a 25-foot tall waterfall, but right now it looks like nothing more than a small crack where the snow is peeling back from the rock. This moat was the site of a fatality several years ago. People tend to ski and glissade directly down the drainage, but the moat is nearly invisible from above, at least until you're right on top of it. We encourage all visitors to avoid the drainage and stick to the ridge until well below this hazard. Thanks and happy climbing!
Coleman-Deming Glacier - May 22, 2017
Heliotrope Ridge Trail is covered in snow from the trailhead to Hogsback Camp and Harrison Camp. Creek and river crossings are also covered in a snow but will be melting out quickly. Snow bridges across creeks can melt from the bottom and collapse unexpectedly.
There is snow on the road down to about 3,000 ft, however, the forest is free of snow up to about 3,500 ft. The snowpack is deeper this season than it has been for the past few years, which makes for some great skiing conditions on the mountain. The weather has been very warm lately and the snowpack is changing rapidly. Get an early start on your summit attempt and get off the glacier before the hottest part of the day.
The Coleman-Deming route is currently straightforward and direct. There are a few crevasse crossings along the way, but all can be navigated safely using standard glacier travel techniques. Large debris was observed beneath the hanging glacier on Colfax Peak, indicating that there had been a recent avalanche there. Move through this section of the route quickly to reduce the amount of time you spend beneath this objective hazard. Pumice Ridge is still covered in snow, as is the rock on the upper Roman Wall. Grant Peak and the summit register are also still covered in snow. Warm weather will increase the risk of avalanches and snow bridge collapses, so begin your summit attempt very early in the day when temperatures are cooler and the snow has had a chance to firm up. When descending from Hogsback Camp, avoid traveling directly down the drainage to the west of Hogsback Ridge. A dangerous moat develops there this time of year and cannot be seen from above. There have been several accidents in this area in the past, so please do not glissade or ski down this drainage, stick to the ridge instead.
There are no dry campsites or running water available at Hogsback Camp or Harrison Camp. Be prepared to camp on snow and melt snow to make water. Always remember to pack out all garbage and human waste using blue bags or another waste removal system. Help us keep the wilderness pristine. Thanks and happy climbing!