Friday, June 17, 2011

Upper Icicle Road Closure Info - June 17, 2011

Here is the latest information on the Icicle Road Closure after a landslide near Fourth of July on June 10, 2011.

This Road Closure does not in any way affect any of the Leavenworth Rock Climbing or Mountaineering Programs at the Northwest Mountain School.  We are 100% open for business and have access to 99% of the routes we guide.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801

For immediate release: June 17, 2011
Contact: Susan C Peterson, Public Affairs, Wenatchee River Ranger District, 509.548.2558

Upper Icicle Valley Remains Closed to Access

Leavenworth, Wash. —  The upper Icicle Valley, located on the Wenatchee River Ranger District, remains closed to all public use beyond the junction of Eightmile Road and Icicle Rd because the hillsides are unstable and water saturated.

The closure affects all motorized, pedestrian, stock and any other type of entry into the area.

A large mudslide on Friday, June 10, closed upper Icicle Road (FS Rd #76) approximately 10 miles west of Leavenworth in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, stranding over 30 people overnight before crews could rescue them.  No injuries were reported.

The District continues to keep the area closed because of continued mud slides flowing in the upper Icicle Valley and the potential for more slides to occur. There is no estimate on when the area will be reopened.

•         Upper Icicle Road #76 from the junction of Eightmile Road and Icicle Road     (access allowed on Eight mile Road).
•        All Icicle campgrounds except for Bridge Creek and Eight mile Campgrounds, which remain open.
•        4th of July Trail #1579 is closed.

For more information call:  509-548-2550.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New! Guided Mt. Baker Climbs!

We are excited to announce that the Northwest Mountain School can now offer Guided Climbs on Mt. Baker.  We signed the permit with the US Forest Service a few days ago, bringing to close a 16 year effort to gain access to this iconic Northwest Peak.

Mount Baker 10,775', photo by John Scurlock
The Northwest Mountain School obtained its first permit on Glacier Peak back in 1994.  At that time we also inquired about guiding on Mt. Baker and were turned away due to a moratorium on issuing new permits.  That moratorium was recently listed and we were one of the first guide services to be awarded access and we could not be happier to be offering guided climbs and a mountaineering school on Mt. Baker for the summer of 2011.

At 10,775', Mt. Baker is technically the 4th highest mountain in the State of Washington, with Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Little Tahoma being higher.  Due to its proximity to the ocean and location just south of the 49th parallel, Mt. Baker is one of the most glaciated mountains in the lower 48 and holds the US record for total snowfall in one year at 1140 inches (over 95 feet!).  Our permit here opens up access to heavily glaciated and challenging routes that are worthwhile in themselves, and also great training for other mountains.

Mount Baker from the south, photo by John Scurlock
For this first summer, we are focusing our offerings on 4 popular climbing routes:
  • The Easton Glacier
  • The Coleman Deming Route
  • The North Ridge Route
  • The Coleman Headwall Route
Each of these routes is very distinct and offer differing levels of difficulty and terrain for our customers.

Easton Glacier Climbs
The Easton Glacier is approached from the south side of Mt. Baker and the town of Sedro-Woolley, WA, and is a comfortable climb that usually takes 3 days.  Each program features a half-day approach, a full-day of review in the basics of glacier mountaineering, and a one-day summit climb and exit form our high camp. We are offering set dates for 3-day climbs for the summer of 2011 on July 8-10, July 23-25, and August 19-21.  These programs cost $750 per climber and are very suitable for those new to climbing or with no previous climbing experience.  We also offer custom climbs at our private climb rates, which in some cases can be even cheaper than the set dates.

Mt. Baker's Easton Glacier, photo by John Scurlock
Coleman-Deming Climbs
The Coleman-Deming Route is approached from the North side of Mt. Baker and the town of Glacier, WA.  This route is typically also done in 3 days and is perfect for either new climbers, or those looking for one of the more moderate routes to the summit of Mt. Baker.  The hike in takes about 4 hours and the second day is spent reviewing everything you need to know to climb Mt. Baker with a guide. On the 3rd day we make our summit bid and return to the trail head. Set dates for 2011 include July 15-17 and September 2-4.  The cost for this program is $800 per customer and can also be organized as a custom climb.

Mt. Baker's Coleman-Deming Route, photo by John Scurlock
North Ridge of Baker Climbs
The North Ridge of Baker is an ultra classic Pacific Northwest test piece and will be guided up to 2:1, with one fixed date of August 27-29, but custom dates easily arranged on any day of the week.  This climb is very similar in nature to other classics like the North Face of Buckner, and  the ice pitches on the North Ridge of Forbidden, and would be ideal training for a route like Liberty Ridge on Mt. Rainier.  The climbing is generally in the 40-50 degree range with a few spicy pitches of steeper climbing high on the route.  We descend the Coleman-Deming Route and generally schedule 3 days for the climb.  We can also offer a one-day warm-up on the steep, top-roped ice climbing to be found on the lower Coleman glacier throughout the climbing season.

Mt. Baker's North Ridge, photo by John Scurlock
The Coleman Headwall Route
This route is a bit harder and more sustained than the North Ridge, and does often have some objective hazard on the lower portions of the climb.  Most of the climbing is in the 45 to 50 degree range with a few steeper steps encountered during the climb.  This route usually forms as a snow route in the early season, in many years even being a reasonable ski, and then becomes icier as the summer progresses, and eventually becomes a straight alpine ice route.  Like the North Ridge we descend the Coleman-Deming.

Mt. Baker's Coleman-Headwall in late season, photo by John Scurlock.
 About the Northwest Mountain School
The Northwest Mountain School was founded by IFMGA guide John Race in 1994.  It is now operated by John and his wife, Olivia Cussen Race, also an IFMGA guide.  John has worked full-time on Mt. Rainier since 1989 and Olivia has worked full-time on Rainier since 2001.  The stated aim of the Northwest Mountain School is "not to be the biggest guide service, but to be among the best," and access Mount Baker allows us to expand our program offerings to cover most of the main guided peaks in the Pacific Northwest.

For details on our new programs, visit our Guided Baker Climbs page or feel free to contact the office at 509-548-5823.