August 26, 2018

Coleman-Deming Route Impassible Due to Large Crevasse

August 11 photo of crevasse at approximately 9000 feet.
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Easton Glacier
Coleman-Deming Glacier

During the past few weeks of hot weather, a large crevasse at approximately 9000 feet on the Coleman-Deming Route has become impassible to most mountaineers. The crevasse cuts across the entire width of the glacier from the rock of the Roman Mustache on the climber's left to the hanging ice of Colfax Peak on the right. The snow bridges that had previously led across this crevasse are now melted. Technically skilled and experienced climbers might still be able to climb over it using advanced, time-consuming techniques, but the huge majority of mountaineers--including guided parties--have decided to entirely avoid this route for the rest of summer. Climbers who are attempting the North Ridge have reportedly been able to rappel the crevasse on their descent, but this may soon change.

The best alternatives to the Coleman-Deming Route are the Easton Glacier or Squak Glacier. According to recent reports from professional guides, these two routes can still be navigated by skilled mountaineers. However, all routes on Mount Baker are in late-season condition, meaning they are more challenging and complex than usual. Expect to find sections of hard blue ice and large crevasses. Many snow bridges will be melted away and safe travel may require a higher degree of technical skill than most people anticipate when visiting Mount Baker. Be sure to carry and know how to use ice screws, pickets, and other forms of protection. If these tools and skills are new to you, consider visiting a different mountain and saving your ascent of Mount Baker for a time when the routes are in better shape.

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