Baker Backcountry - Ptarmigan Ridge ski/split, December 2007

Hopeful that the mini-typhoon that blasted through the region earlier in the week didnít wash our entire snow pack into Puget Sound, Scott and I endured the three-hour drive to the Mt. Baker ski area for a day of touring around Ptarmigan Ridge. We would not be disappointed, and our determination was rewarded with 8 Ė 12 inches of the lightest champagne imaginable over a very firm base.

With temps in the 20ís most of the day combined with a cloudless sky and sublime vistas typical of the Baker backcountry, itís days like these that rekindle my passion for backcountry snowboarding. We managed a couple nice sustained ~1000ft descents from our stopping point on Ptarmigan Ridge somewhere between Pt. 5626 and Coleman Pinnacle, and another mostly lower-angled descent down to the low basin just southeast of Table Mountain.

From there, we followed a skin track that we hoped would deliver us to the saddle high on Table Mountain which Scott and I were familiar with from previous tours in the area. Alas, the skin track instead headed towards Herman Saddle and steep, unconsolidated sugar snow over the aforementioned crust dissuaded us from attempting to traverse back over to our intended crossover point on Table Mountain. At this point, our return to the upper-lot turned into a race against the dying sun as we traversed above (Scott) and over (Sergio) Iceberg Lake, and made the final exhausting grunt back up to Herman Saddle. A quick descent on mostly tracked out, re-freezing slopes saw us to Bagley Lakes Basin, reaching the car shortly before full dark.

Mouse-over thumbnails below for a description and click to enlarge.




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