June 2, 2017

Dangerous Moat on Mt Baker's Heliotrope Ridge Trail

Looking up Heliotrope Ridge Trail toward Hogsback Camp. Dangerous moat marked with red arrow. Bootpack/trail visible on left side of photo. 
The climbing rangers would like to remind all climbers, skiers, and hikers about a common hazard on Heliotrope Ridge Trail, the approach to the Coleman-Deming, North Ridge, and Coleman Headwall routes. This time of year, the melting snowpack creates a dangerous moat in the Kulshan Creek drainage to the west of Hogsback Ridge at about 5400 feet. Later in the summer when the snowpack is gone, it is a 25-foot 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 cannot be seen from above until you're right on top of it. The moat can be as deep as 40 feet, and if a person fell, they could land in the rushing creek, pinched between snow and rock. We encourage all visitors to avoid the drainage and stick to the ridge until well away from this hazard. And don't hesitate to inform other visitors about the moat. Be safe and enjoy your time on Mount Baker!

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