Photo: Ian Peterson.
Blackbird Guide Ian Peterson recently did back-to-back single day summit and ski descents with Blackbird Guests on Mt Baker. Conditions were surprisingly good given the recent hot conditions.
Is getting there! We walked/skinned 0.6 miles on the road to reach the parking lot. With the rapid melting, this is likely significantly less now- cars were pushing way higher on Friday afternoon.
Skinning high on the Easton Glacier. Photo: Ian Peterson.
We made use of the full summer approach to get to Sandy Camp. It was skinnable from the TH, with only a couple of instances of taking skis off for dirt patches. Again, I would anticipate these conditions to be rapidly deteriorating. The switchbacks are melted out enough to be easily usable (booting), and skinning above was super feasible. We kept the railroad grade to climber's right and gained the glacier shortly above Sandy Camp- skis on the entire time.
Conditions on the Easton glacier are generally decent but are certainly a few weeks ahead of "normal". Bridges are starting to sag, and a couple of smaller cracks are beginning to open, but travel on skis was generally straightforward.
We began our descent of Mt Baker at ~11:00am from 9000'. With an overnight freeze, warm temps, and very little wind, we enjoyed solid corn skiing down to between 6000 and 5500', and then the ski quality deteriorated due to sun cupping. Not the worst, not the best!
We were able to cross the Easton below the icefall and descend skiers left towards the Metcalfe Moraine. We linked patches of sun cupped snow until ~4500', where with a bit of moraine bashing and a couple of small creek crossings, we managed to link snow pretty much down to our final crossing of Easton Creek to regain the summer trail to the parking lot. This route went without any spooky creek-snow-bridge crossings (they're mostly melted out!), and I doubt that it'll hold on for much longer.
Trip Report by Blackbird Guide Ian Peterson. AMGA Apprentice Ski Guide and Apprentice Alpine Guide and Certified Single Pitch Instructor.