Sitting just south of the Canadian border, on the western flank of the Cascade Range, Mount Baker is one of the top mountaineering destinations in the Pacific Northwest.
Since it was first climbed more than 150 years ago, the peak has become a popular destination for novice and intermediate mountaineers. It is considered to be one of the easiest ascents in the region, which makes it perfect for learning necessary mountaineering skills.
Mount Baker is an active stratovolcano and last erupted in March 1975. However, fumarolic and magma activities have remained relatively low since then and the peak is not considered to be at immediate risk of erupting in the near future.
Quick Facts about Mount Baker
- Mount Baker is both the second most glaciated volcanic peak (after Mount Rainier) in the Cascade Range and has the second most thermally active crater (after Mount Saint Helens).
- At 3,286 metres (10,781 feet) in elevation, Mount Baker is the third tallest mountain in Washington state and the fifth highest in the Cascade Range.
- On a clear day, Mount Baker can be seen both from Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada.
History of Mount Baker (H2)
Mount Baker was well-known to the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest and was referred to as the white sentinel and puncture wound (for its crater) in a variety of native languages.
The first record of a European seeing the mountain came in 1790, when Manuel Quimper, a Spanish-Peruvian explorer arrived at the shores of what is now Washington state with the Spanish navy. While he did not refer to the peak by name, it was shown on a map made of the exploration.
The first European to climb Mount Baker was the English alpinist Edmund Thomas Coleman, who successfully made it to the summit on August 17, 1868, via what is now the Coleman Deming route.
The first person to climb the North Ridge of the mountain was in 1948, when American climbers Fred Beckey, Ralph and Dick Widrig summited the volcano.
Experience Required for Climbing Mount Baker
Mount Baker is widely considered to be one of the best mountains for aspiring climbers to learn on. Numerous guides offer glacier travel and basic mountaineering courses on some of its routes, mostly the Easton Glacier route.
The climb involves mostly glacier travel with crampons and an ice axe. It also has several crevasses and for that reason is frequented by intermediate mountaineers trying to learn crevasse rescue skills.
Regardless of the route, climbing Mount Baker does require a high level of physical fitness. Most guides recommend training cardiovascular strength and leg strength.
Main Routes up Mount Baker
There are three main routes that lead up to the summit of Mount Baker, each of which offers a different level of difficulty for climbers.
Widely considered to be the easiest way to climb Mount Baker, the Easton Glacier route is most commonly used by first-time and novice mountaineers. The route approaches the peak from the south and takes between two and three days to climb.
Among the most popular is the Coleman Deming route, which approaches from the south and climbs via the southwestern ridge. It is best suited for advanced beginners and intermediate mountaineers alike.
The Heliotrope Ridge route, also known as the North Ridge route, is another popular way to climb Mount Baker. It is the toughest route up to the summit of the mountain and is mostly climbed by intermediate mountaineers.