Coleman Deming - 2017

Coleman-Deming Glacier - July 17, 2017

Road Access: Glacier Creek Road is open and clear to Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead.

Trail Status: Heliotrope Ridge Trail was clear of snow to just below Hogsback Camp. The trail was dry and in excellent condition. Water level was low at all creek crossings.

Snow Level: 5500 feet

Snow Observations: We found soft corn snow on all aspects and elevations. We didn’t encounter any patches of dry glacier on the main climbing route. Suncups and runnels were present below 9000 feet.

Route Observations and Additional Information: From Hogsback Camp, the boot pack traveled directly up the first slope toward Black Buttes. The boot pack was cut deeply into the snowpack and was easy to follow. No major crevasses were visible on this first pitch, but they will be opening soon, and smart climbers will rope up immediately from camp. We crossed several minor crevasses in the section between Black Buttes and the Colfax icefall. At about 8500 feet, we came to a series of major crevasses. The boot pack traveled over several snow bridges that appeared to be solid. However, we chose to traverse westerly and end run these hazards. We also wrapped westerly around another crevasse at approximately 8700 feet and then came to a final large crevasse at about 8900 feet, just below Coleman Saddle. We crossed this crevasse in the center on a solid snow bridge, but this bridge will be melting quickly and the route will change. Assess all snow bridges for yourself before crossing. Pumice Ridge was completely snow free and the rock band on the Roman Wall was beginning to appear. Grant Peak was snow free and the summit register was open. Don’t forget to sign your name for our records! There were approximately 25 dry campsites at Hogsback Camp and running water was available throughout the area. Camp on durable surfaces where there is no living vegetation. Be courteous to other visitors and keep your camp tidy.

Leave No Trace Reminder: We picked up a lot of garbage and human waste around camp and on the climbing route this weekend. We found more than a dozen piles of poop on the glacier. This is unacceptable. Human waste contaminates our water supply and will not biodegrade when left in the snow. In addition to that, it simply isn’t nice to see poop in an otherwise pristine wilderness. We have a strict blue bag policy on Mt Baker, meaning that all visitors must carry out their waste. Carry extra blue bags with you on the climbing route and use them no matter where you are on the mountain. If you see other visitors who aren’t following this policy, please say something. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep Mt Baker clean. Thanks and enjoy the mountain!

Coleman-Deming Glacier - June 25, 2017

Route from Hogsback Camp
Road Access: Glacier Creek Road is open and clear to Heliotrope Ridge trailhead.

Trail Status: Heliotrope Ridge trail was mostly clear of snow from the trailhead to Kulshan Creek. The creek crossings were running high thanks to the warm weather and there were some muddy sections of trail. Past Kulshan Creek, the climber’s trail up Hogsback Ridge was partially snow covered. The trail to Survey Rock and Harrison Camp was still mostly snow covered.

Snow Level: 4700 feet Snow Observations: There was soft corn snow on most aspects and elevations. Small sun cups and runnels were beginning to develop below 7500 feet.

There are several large crevasses below Coleman Saddle.
Route Observations and Additional Information: The Coleman-Deming route was very busy this weekend. Most of the climbers and skiers we saw were having safe and successful climbs. From Hogsback Camp, the boot pack and skin track traveled easterly across the Hogsback Headwall before switching back toward Black Buttes. A few crevasses were beginning to open on this first section. The route then traveled past Black Buttes camp and traversed toward Coleman Saddle. The hanging ice on Colfax Peak was active, as usual. Smart climbers will move past this hazard as quickly as possible. We then encountered two large crevasses at approximately 8700 feet and 8900 feet, just below Coleman Saddle. We crossed them on large snow bridges, but these bridges will change quickly. All climbers should carefully assess snow bridges before crossing. Pumice Ridge was part rock and part snow. We expect it to be mostly clear of snow within the next ten days. The rock band on the Roman Wall was still under snow, as were Grant Peak and the summit register. All in all, the route was typical for this time of year.

Current conditions on the Roman Wall.
There were about 20 dry tent sites available at Hogsback Camp and more will be melting out in coming days. Running water was available in the area. Unfortunately, we found a lot of garbage and human waste left around camp. This is unacceptable. Visitors must pack out all garbage, food scraps, and human waste using blue bags or another waste removal system. Blue bags are available for free from the USFS Service Centers in Glacier and Sedro Woolley. If you notice other visitors littering or going to the bathroom without bagging it, please say something. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the wilderness clean for future generations.

A climber crosses a snow bridge at approximately 8900 feet.
Safety Reminders: We observed several skiers descending directly on top of people who were climbing the Roman Wall. This is both discourteous and hazardous. If a skier fell, they could easily knock other people off the wall. Instead, skiers should descend to the side of the main boot pack, so that a fall will not put others at risk.

Additionally, we observed several people glissading down the Roman Wall and other sections of the route. This is a bad idea for many reasons. As a rule of thumb, there are three criteria to determine if it is safe to glissade: (1) not on a glacier; (2) not wearing crampons; (3) not roped up. If you can’t meet these criteria, it is probably better to walk down. Again, don’t expose yourself and others to unnecessary risk. Thanks and happy climbing!

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

Glacier Creek Road is clear of snow to within 1.5 miles of Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead. From that point forward, the road is mostly covered in snow with a few bare patches of gravel and asphalt. 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 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!