Develop the judgment needed to be an alpine climber. Acquire technical skills that support your leadership in pursuit of high alpine snowy peaks on this 2-day Mt. Hood climb.
Summit Mt. Baker
The northern cousin to Rainier and the third highest peak in Washington, Mount Baker is a massive stratovolcano located in the majestic North Cascades. It is the most glaciated peak in the Cascades after Rainier. This challenging peak offers views that are hands down some of the best in the northwest.
Why Climb Mt. Baker vs. Mt. Rainier?
Rainier gets the attention of many climbers, due it its pedigree as the highest glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. Rainier is an incredible peak and it is certainly deserving of its reputation, but Mount Baker in many ways rivals or surpasses Rainier as a climbing destination.
Both peaks rise over 10,000 feet and offer a climbing experience that you can only get in a few parts of the world. Climbing on Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier will offer experiences that rival Alaska, Central America, the Alps, and the Himalaya.
Mt. Baker is in many ways a similar climb to Rainier. Both mountains are massive volcanic domes with terrain that is complex and exciting. Each mountain offers routes for beginners all the way to world-class alpine test-pieces.
Avoid the Crowds
With the hype comes the crowds. Rainier can be a madhouse, with literal lines of climbers all the way up the mountain. On Mount Baker, you’ll experience all the awe and majesty of being high above the clouds but you won’t see the massive crowds like Rainier.
While Rainier boasts nice views of surrounding volcanoes such as Mt. Adams and Mt. Saint Helens, the terrain around it is relatively flat when compared to Mount Baker.
Mount Baker boasts incredible close up views of Mt. Shuksan, one of the most picturesque peaks in America. It also sits in the North Cascades, one of the most beautiful mountain ranges you’ll find. The dozens of snow capped and rocky peaks offer views that Rainier just can’t match.
Guides Prefer Mount Baker
Our Mt. Baker guides generally agree that Baker is a favorite over Rainier. It offers varied terrain that is exciting and fun, and because of all the reasons mentioned already, our guides love this mountain!
More Successful Summits
While still being a considerable challenge for any climber, Mount Baker’s lower elevation means less likelihood of altitude sickness, and a better chance of reaching the summit as a result. Climbers on Mount Baker generally have a much higher chance of a successful summit than Rainier, which has about a 50% success rate on average.
Mt Baker North Ridge:
Intermediate-Advanced, Grade III, AI 2-3, Steep Snow/Glacier Travel
The North Ridge is compiled in many guidebooks as a Cascade classic. Approach via Heliotrope ridge on the mountain’s north side to camp around 6,000 feet. After weaving through crevasse fields while traversing the massive Coleman Glacier, climb steep snow to the base of a large ice cliff. Surmount this obstacle with 1-2 pitches of moderate ice climbing, then continue up the immaculate ridge the remaining distance to the 10,778-foot summit.
Mt Baker Coleman-Deming / Squak Glacier / Easton Glacier Routes:
Beginner, Grade II/III, Moderate Snow/Glacier Travel
This Mt. Baker guided climb will happen on either the Coleman-Deming, Squak Glacier, or Easton Glacier routes, depending on conditions. Although these routes are less technical than the North Ridge, climbers should expect to be challenged physically and mentally. However, you will be rewarded for your efforts by summiting one of the biggest volcanoes in the continental United States. Our professional Mt. Baker guides will ensure you have an unforgettable experience that will leave you feeling accomplished and ready for the next summit.
Our Mountaineering: Guided Climbs allow you access to the greatest experiences the Cascades offer. Many have been curated in guidebooks like Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs, Kearney’s Classic Climbs of the Northwest, Steck and Roper’s 50 Classic Climbs of North America, and Nelson and Potterfield’s Select Climbs in the Cascades. We’ve carefully chosen objectives that require the perfect balance of challenge and skill. As a result, these trips are all overnight, incorporate movement on snow/glaciated terrain, and varying degrees of 3rd, 4th, and 5th class rock climbing.
Each climb requires different management strategies, so the instructor to participant ratio changes dependent upon the terrain in which you will encounter on your objective. For instance, rock routes are limited to a 2:1 ratio, whereas snow/glaciated routes are 3:1. Please consider these practical limitations when planning your Pacific Northwest experience.
Contact us to develop a custom itinerary for you and your party.
These are custom climbs; please visit our custom pricing page for the most accurate cost.
This trip includes a mandatory pre-trip meeting held at the Kaf Office in Seattle the evening before the course start date.
- Meet at 7 a.m. to carpool and transport to the trailhead. Approach via Heliotrope ridge on the mountain’s north side to set up camp around 6,000 feet. Refresh your glacier travel skills at camp and then get to bed early to rest up for the summit attempt!
- Leave camp early in the morning to start the summit attempt. Climb the immaculate steep snow and ice ridge, pictured as the skyline ridge in the image, to the 10,778-foot summit. Depending on the route/conditions/weather and a myriad of other factors, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours to reach the summit. We will return to camp, have a rest, and then pack up and head back to the cars. Plan to be back in Seattle by 8 p.m.
South Route (Squak Glacier or Easton Glacier)
- Meet at 7 a.m. to carpool and transport to the trailhead. Hike approximately 3-5 miles/3,000 feet elevation gain and set up our base camp for the trip. Snow skills/glacier travel skills and early to bed to get some rest for the summit attempt!
- Leave camp early in the morning (around 2 a.m.) to start the summit attempt. Depending on the route/conditions/weather and a myriad of other factors, it can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to reach the summit. We will return to camp, have a rest, and then break down camp, and head back to the cars. At the trailhead, you can return any rental gear and group gear to Kaf and then head home! Plan to be back in Seattle by 8 p.m.
We recommend that anyone flying into Seattle arrive as early as possible on the day before the trip. We also recommend you do not book a return flight until late (red-eye) on the last day of the trip, or the following morning.
18+ for adult courses or 16+ with consent from a guardian and Kaf approval
Mountaineering: Beginner course is required prior to the climb of Mt Baker.
- Snow and Glacier Camping
- Mountaineering Knots and Hitches
- Rope Management and Glacier Rigging
- Rope Team Travel
- Navigation, Map and Compass Usage
- Gear Packing and Equipment Choices
- Self-Arrest and Ice-Axe Technique, Crampon Usage
- Building Snow Anchors
- Technical Rock Scrambling
- Steep Snow Climbing Techniques
- Alpine Ice Climbing (for North Ridge)
- Snow and Glacier Camping
- Professional instruction from full-time mountaineering instructors at a maximum of a 3:1 student-to-instructor ratio
- Passes and permits
- All group climbing gear
- All group camping and kitchen equipment
- Dinners and breakfasts while in the field
- Personal clothing, climbing, and personal camping gear
- Lunches, snacks, water carrying capacity
- Transportation is not included. Kaf will assist in organizing a carpool. See further details below.
You will receive a full packing list following registration, but please feel free to contact us with any gear or equipment specific questions you have. A brief list of what you will need to provide for yourself:
- Personal climbing gear: Multi-day pack, helmet, harness, mountaineering boots, glacier rig, ice tools, and crampons
- Personal camping gear: Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
- Weather-appropriate clothing
Transportation and times will be coordinated by email when the pre-trip announcement is sent to all registrants.
Consider joining us for any of our other Mountaineering Courses