Mount Baker, Elevation 10,778ft

Park Glacier Headwall, December 7, 2002

1 day


The east side of Mount Baker from the Baker ski resort. My ski and climb are in green. This photo was taken during Winter 00 with much more snow. The bergschrund is barely visible.


After a quick run up the Coleman/Deming, I was ready for more. A few feet to the east was the Park Glacier Headwall. What the heck.

I first saw the Park Glacier Headwall from the Baker ski resort. Its contrasting steeps are hard to miss; even more so from the summit. The closest that most people get is for a piss or picture after climbing any one of the standard routes to the west. I fell into this category during previous trips but with time, weather and snow conditions on my side, I decided to go beyond the norm and attempt to ski the dizzying slope.

I had intended to ski the entire Park Glacier for quite awhile but with a never-ending list of excuses from the Hummels and higher priorities for myself, it was put on hold. It seems that the first descent came from a boarder a few years back and I assume that it's been skied since then. Regardless, it's a very aesthetic line worthy of my interest and time. The interest had been with me since first sight and time was of little concern having climbed the Coleman/Deming in 4 hours and 10 minutes from the parking lot.


My pack, skis and poles on the summit looking east towards the start of the Park Glacier Headwall.


Looking down the Park Glacier Headwall from where I dropped in.


I dropped in around noon. The snow was packed powder -- the next best thing to corn for skiing steeps. The slope was a consistent 40-45 degrees with no end in sight. I made several turns above rocks before traversing left for many more turns along their edge. After 400-500 vertical feet I spotted the bergschrund and began to assess if and where I could cross it. I neglected to stop and eventually found myself in a sideslip less than 20ft above its icy edge. I briefly considered jumping the 10 to 15-foot gap until I realized there may not be a way back. To my right, I saw that it narrowed so I made a quick jump turn and continued to chatter towards the rocks where the schrud closed and I was able to cross. Fudger. I guess that's what I get for being more concerned about how I look than what's ahead (you never know who might be watching). Anyway, my relaxing ski almost turned into a nightmare but it was over before I knew it. Sweet.

The slope flattened significantly below the schrud. Had there been a chopper waiting for me at its base, I'd have paid good money to continue but having to climb back up whatever I skied, I called it good there. I took a photo, packed my skis, donned my crampons and retraced my tracks. The slope and snow conditions were perfect for hands and knees so I made quick work of the climb, reaching the summit within an hour of my departure.


A photo looking north from my lowpoint below the bergschrund.


The ski down the Coleman/Deming was only slightly more exciting than grooms but I guess that's what I get for spoiling myself with treats like the Park Glacier Headwall. As winter sets in, the candy jar continues to fill. I can only hope for someone to share it with so I can bring back better photos from my next trip.