Artist's Point & Lake Ann

After no hiking on the three day Presidents Day weekend I was ready for something interesting. Suzanne mentioned an overnight trip to the Mt. Baker area was in the works. I didn't arrive back in town until 7:15 pm on Friday evening and had to scramble to find my winter overnight gear. I didn't get to bed until 11:30 pm and the 5:40 am alarm clock came all too soon. I met Suzanne and Barb at the 65th Street Park & Ride at 6:30 am. David, Beth, and Lauren also met there. Our two car caravan headed north.

The drive to the Mt. Baker ski area was startling. There was no snow at the Hannegan Pass Road and none part way up from there. Hard to believe there is so much bare ground in late February. The ski area website did show that there is 130" of snow at the base so  we were on snow the entire trip. The forecast was for sunny sky on Saturday and mostly sunny on Sunday. They were too pessimistic. Didn't see a single cloud overhead the entire weekend.

We were packed up and on our way somewhere around 9:30 am. Lots of skiers taking advantage of the great sunny weather. From the parking lot we put on snowshoes immediately and followed  a well worn track. Almost at once we began to see groups of tents. I'm not sure if it was a group like the Mountaineers doing a course or just folks who wanted to snow camp but not be far from their cars. The track is more direct than the groomed road and keeps you away from some very fast skiers and snowboarders.

It's only a couple miles to Artist's Point and  we expected lots of company. We were not disappointed. The views begin in the parking lot and just get better as you ascend. This really is a heck of a place for an easy snowshoe trip. As is often the case this trip went together without figuring all the details. We were thinking about climbing Mt. Ann and also seeing Artist's Point. Beth was a little under the weather and David was just getting over a cold too. We decided to camp at Artist's Point and then try to figure out what to do the next day. By not heading towards Ann on day one we were making a Mt. Ann summit less likely but we were getting a day at high elevation with absolutely breathtaking views in all directions. Not a bad trade off.

It has been quite a few months since I have carried an overnight pack and with winter gear, heavier boots, and snowshoes, it was a bit more strenuous getting to Artist's Point than the 2 miles and 1100' of gain would suggest. We found tents on the highest point so we set up camp just below. Mt. Shuksan was in one direction and Mt. Baker in the other. It was flat enough that minimal shoveling was needed to create flat tent sites. We had quite an assortment. Suzanne and I had my Hilleberg Nallo 3, David and Beth had his Nallo 2, Lauren used an MSR Hubba, and Barb had her Tarptent Rainbow. The single wall Rainbow would be the coldest tent.

Folks kept arriving including a couple, one in short sleeves and the other shirtless. This is February isn't it? It was still very early and we plotted where to go next. We chose to hike back down Kulshan Ridge to the steep slope of Table Mountain. We saw a couple folks climb the face to the big flat top of the mountain. There were a number of people camped along the ridge. We reached the start of the steep slope and climbed up to a wide ledge. It was not clear where to go. I found steps off to the right. It was steep but climbable. I was not feeling great and chose to stay put.

David and Suzanne headed up the slope. They made it more than half way to where the tracks traversed to the right. That was enough for them. Barb also went up a ways. The climbers returned and we decided to head around Table Mountain. We could see ski tracks below and dropped several hundred feet to the tracks. There was a lot of avalanche debris though it was not recent. Beth was not feeling well and she, David and Lauren headed back. I was sinking much farther than Suzanne and Barb and I made it part way across and turned around. Suzanne and Barb made it around to the back side.

I took my time coming back as the lighting was changing as afternoon gave way to early evening. Lots of great photo opportunities. It was around 4:30 when I made it back to the campsite. Sunset is now a little after 6:00 pm. I hoped it would be a little later at 5300' on an open ridge. In fact Mt. Baker blocked the sun and it was out of sight by 5:15. The temperature plunged when the sun dropped behind the mountain. We had dinner and stayed out as long as possible but by 7:00 pm it was just too cold. We did have some nice sunset shots. The crescent moon was overhead total darkness held off.

I only covered about 4 miles with 1600' of gain for the day but the endless views of snow covered peaks was spectacular. No summit but a great day to be out.

Suzanne's report and other members photos are at:  Nwhikers Report & Photos

Parking Lot View
Lots Of Tents
Building & Table Mountain
Goat Mountain
Mazama Dome
Climbing Tracks
Mt. Baker Appears
David & Shuksan
Beautiful Mt. Baker
Group At Campsite
Two Hilleberg Nallos
Huntoon Point
Table Mountain
Kulshan Ridge View
Lauren On The Ridge
Me & My Shadow
Strolling Along The Ridge
A Short Climb
Go Up That?
Pretty Steep
Barb On Slope
Suzanne On Steeps
Glissading Time
Shuksan Summit
Table Mountain Traverse
Climbing Back To Ridge
Mt. Ann
Climbers On Table
Huntoon & Mt. Ann
Shuksan Contrast
Tomorrow's Route
Shuksan & Campsite
Setting Sun
Light & Shadow
Larrabee Alpenglow
Light On Shuksan
Pink Shuksan
Sunset Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Day 2

Trips - 2010