Mount Baker Corn and Oxygen Fest – TR

Post by blogger | June 22, 2011      
Lisa on Mount Baker, Washington.

Lisa backcountry skiing on Mount Baker, Washington. Perfect corn from the summit, a bit of the scrappy down low to keep the PNW reputation alive. Click to enlarge.

Mount Baker ski mountaineering.

Gregg (left) and a couple of Dawsons on Baker, around this area we're wondering if we have enough water, and if the clouds will burn off. Click to enlarge.

If the altitude doesn’t getcha, the vert will. Or the storms, or you might do a DB Cooper.

With those thoughts running through my head like a raging lahar dumping off Mount Hood, I pressed out a triple espresso at 2:00 am in Bellingham, Washington. While nicely buzzed, I enjoyed spectating as Louie baja ran the short but sufficiently violent trailhead drive on Glacier Creek Road (as in, a “paved” logging road that looked like something out of a Guatamalin jungle).

Gregg, as a true local, figured he’d give us the full PNW scrappy experience so we skipped the few hundred feet of dry trail at the start and instead squished through a bog. To redeem , he then ushered us to a perfect entrance, where this year a gigantic avalanche has filled a gulch and made a ski route for Baker that is PNW rated tailgate to tailgate.

Tailgate skiing is fine by whatever wet footed standard. Yet as a wimpy Colorado skier, facing 12 miles and 7,100 vertical feet of climbing was causing me to wonder if this would be too big a day. Turned out great, but yeah, I’m taking a rest day today!

Mount Baker ski mountaineering.

Funny how those Mount Baker marmots eat your backpack foam in the shape of footbeds.

Mount Baker ski mountaineering.

Lisa just above what I think is called Coleman Deming Saddle. Pretty girls all over Baker, so much for the PNW gnar reputation. Click to enlarge.

Mount Baker summit.

Dawson posse at Baker summit, awesome Mount Shuksan tempting to the right. Detail oriented folks please note we tromped over to the 'real' summit a few hundred yards from where most seasoned locals turn around in their corn snow frenzy. At 10,781 feet, I was loving the thick O2 my lungs pulled in. It always amazes me how much easier it is to do cardio athletics at lower elevations. Click to enlarge.

Gregg Cronn heads off the summit of Baker.

Gregg Cronn heads off the summit of Baker. Click to enlarge.

Lisa backcountry skiing Roman Headwall, Mount Baker

Lisa backcountry skiing Roman Headwall, Mount Baker. Click to enlarge.

Backcountry skiing Mount Baker, Washington.

Lou on the exit snow. Gregg told me that in the PNW this was considered to be perfect corn, because it wasn't covered with lichen or moss. My setup with TLT 5, no tongues, virtually no forward lean and tiny short skis was almost not up to the task. Funny how the rando mind is always 'oh, I like this stuff' while you're climbing, then 'wider skis, bigger boots' while you're skiing down. Rando schizophrenia. Of course, when chasing Slovakians to the summit, you need lightweight gear, right Tom? Click to enlarge.

On the way back, Gregg and Louie did find the 100 feet of trail avoiding bog walking.

On the way back, Gregg and Louie did find the 100 feet of trail avoiding bog walking. Pretty civilized, things were marked by a trailhead sign board and even a set of stairs. But I laughed when I checked out the wet and moldy Heliotrope trail 'register.' Keep the myth alive! From left to right, Lisa, Louie, Lou, Gregg. Click to enlarge.

For now, I think I’ll go to the lowest elevation possible and have some coffee down by the bay.

Mount Baker custom boot fitters, visit our office any time.

Mount Baker custom boot fitters, visit our office any time.


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26 Responses to “Mount Baker Corn and Oxygen Fest – TR”

  1. Randonnee June 22nd, 2011 10:16 am

    Great TR!

  2. Randonnee June 22nd, 2011 10:21 am

    Yes, the altitude 😀 – I find it helpful to take Diamox before my first trip of the season heading up to 10k on our volcanos…..

  3. Lou June 22nd, 2011 10:26 am

    A half a ‘mox would probably be a good ticket if I wasn’t acclimated to 10,000 as Lisa and I are at the moment (though fast loosing it). Hydration, caffeine and aspirin are the gold standards, of course.

  4. Greg Louie June 22nd, 2011 10:58 am

    No lichen or moss? Sweet!

    Good to have you in the hood, Lou and Lisa!

  5. Gregg Cronn June 22nd, 2011 10:58 am

    Hmmmm… feet were pretty dry all day. Maybe you just need to watch where you place your feet……Thanks Lou, Lisa and Louie for a great day on the old gal.

  6. Greg Louie June 22nd, 2011 11:05 am

    Let me get this straight – Gregg Cronn SHAVED for this trip?

  7. Randonnee June 22nd, 2011 2:55 pm

    TLT5 boot questions- Lou you mention using the TLT5P on Baker. At this point what do you think of the metatarsal flex? Also, what do you think of the TLT5 Mountain?

    In reading the Dynafit press releases, I get the impression that the TLT5 will continue next season with the metatarsal flex. I am (unusually) stuck in deciding to upgrade my personally well-liked Zzero3C with the TLT5. I have always preferred the comfort of the shorter Zzero3 for my large legs (compared to Zzero4) for long days similar to your Baker trip. Such comfort and weight reduction of using TLT5 is appealing as well, if I decide the metatarsal flex will be ok for me. Thanks.

  8. Lou June 22nd, 2011 3:08 pm

    Rando, a big strong guy like you would probably find the flex very noticeable when downhill skiing, and you’d at least want a shim under the ball of the foot. The flex is not going to add much if anything to your uphill efficiency unless you’re doing a lot of very low angled stuff, and dirt hiking. I do feel that the carbon cuff is a big part of making this boot work as it is ultra rigid, others disagree and say the TLT5 Mountain works just as well. But I have not been using the tongues so perhaps that makes the carbon more essential.

    I like the boots, have used them a ton of days now, but without the metatarsal flex I feel they would be even better. Oh, one other thing you PNWers should know, mine leak. For a boot that expensive to leak below level of the “shoe” (through the flex zone) is in my view pretty bogus and I’d hope would be fixed for next production run. If you buy some, I’d test them for leakage right away by setting them in a pan of water.

  9. Lou June 22nd, 2011 3:10 pm

    Greg, if he had shaved, it was about a month ago (grin).

  10. Greg Louie June 22nd, 2011 4:35 pm

    Rando, I have big calves and the stock Palau liner is super comfortable for me. I stopped noticing the metatarsal flex after about the 3rd day of skiing, except for making booting on icy steeps without crampons a little less secure.

    I’m not as big as you, but I thought the TLT 5M would be fine about 85% of the time; I chopped off the top of the auxiliary tongues in my TLT 5P’s to give a softer initial flex but more “crush resistance” when they bottom out. Except for our one rando race a year, I leave the tongues in all the time now.

  11. Randonnee June 22nd, 2011 7:08 pm

    Thanks Lou and Greg Louie for the great feedback on the TLT5.

    I do like the idea of the metatarsal flex for those longer Morrison Cr approaches before the road to Mt Adams TH melts out, and for booting the Colchuck Glacier, etc.
    Long ago I skitoured in McCall Basin of the Goat Rocks in some Raichle randonnee boots that leaked in the spring corn snow conditions. I had no other footwear at camp, 14 miles from the trailhead. Pretty miserable sloshing around and also then having wet liners to walk around camp the rest of the time also!

    Good discussion, thanks.

  12. Gregg Cronn June 22nd, 2011 7:11 pm

    Greg….it is the summer surfing look. Don’t want any fur on the face to confuse the large population of Great Whites on the Oregon coast::)

  13. AndyC June 22nd, 2011 8:07 pm

    Rando, I too have big calves (230 lbs) and I find the height of the TLT5 Mountain with the stock TF-X liner irksome with the boot locked forward, except when skiing steep slopes. When skiing long moderate or variable descents the impact of the liner/boot on the back of my calf actually becomes painful and I get a lot of tightness in my thighs. I don’t have any problems, however, with my Zzero 3s or Zzero 4s; the 4s have the thermofit Palau liner. Note that many have modified the TLT5 for the forward lean, including Lou. Allegedly, Dynafit is coming out with a fix–I can’t weight because the boot is otherwise a joy. I’ve used a couple of methods to prevent locking in the forward lean when touring. I’ve pretty well packed out the Mountain liners after 60 days and I am waiting till fall to order the TLT5 thermofits Palaus. I skied the M without tongues all winter, except on very steep slopes. As a former telemark skier, I often ski gentler slopes without the cuff buckle buckled and sometimes with the tongue in, but with only the power strap in use. I haven’t had any noticeable leakage (including a 4,300 ft descent in corn yesterday). But I have even resorted (to my own surprise) using my Zzero 4 PUs for some of my spring skiing instead of the TLT5 Mountain because of the packed out liners causing metatarsal inflammation and the increase comfort and progressive flex of the 4s on the way down. I used the TLT5s yesterday with a big piece of moleskin and skied without the metatarsal/corn problem but did half the descent with the cuff buckle loose.

  14. Randonnee June 22nd, 2011 9:13 pm

    Thanks AndyC, good information. It sounds like hesitating to get the TLT5 was right for me. I do have new liners for both Zzero4 and Zzero3. I will continue to wait and see what develops.

  15. Tomas June 22nd, 2011 10:02 pm

    Hello Lou!
    It was really nice to meet you and your family/ friend up there. Definitely let me know, when you are around next time. I will try to catch you half way up. If not, I’ll send some of my Slovak friends 🙂
    ps: How can I add here some pictures? 😮

  16. Lou June 22nd, 2011 10:21 pm

    Tomas really fun to see you guys up there, email me a few photos, use the ‘contact’ option in menu above to get my public email address. Thanks, Lou

  17. canwilf June 23rd, 2011 1:12 am

    Just wondering what skis everyone was sporting. What is Lisa riding?

  18. Lou June 23rd, 2011 7:17 am

    Happened to be a K2 day, Lisa on next season’s Gotback, Lou on his classic Baker Superlight 167 (had to use them), Louie on Wayback 167, Gregg on a classic pair of Coomba. In lower elevation glop my skis were too short and too narrow, Gregg and Lisa’s ski width was perfect.

  19. Nick D June 23rd, 2011 8:40 pm

    That was a good read Lou. I can relate to your comments on Gregg and Lisa’s skis. The Coomback, in my book, is the perfect all-around ski for PNW conditions.

  20. Michael Pike June 24th, 2011 12:35 am

    Haven’t had any leakage in my M’s, even with wading shallow creeks, but after only 20 days they are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with pressure points developing on the outside in the area of the front buckle. Not sure if I can get that area punched out . I might try moving the buckle back a bit. First, though,I’m going to try one of my old intuition liners. I’m sure missing the comfort of my ZZero4’s, but I can’t go back. We’re having a great extended season here in Northern California, still about 5′ of snow at 7000 on S. Shasta and the North side of Lassen.

  21. AndyC June 24th, 2011 10:48 am

    M. Pike: I don’t know if your problem is the same as mine, but:
    (1) my liners initially were quite snug, it took 3-4 days off skinning for them to be comfortable.
    (2) after about 40 days, I felt I needed more arch support and put in thin Sole foot beds designed for mild pronation.
    (3) after about 50 days, my right liner would gradually become “loose” and I started to get some metatarsalalgia. I put in a fiber spacer under the foot bed and that helped by raising the metatarsal area just a bit; at ProGuide Service recommendation I started using moleskin on that area just behind the little toe, over the metatarsal bump; that helped too.
    (4) then it became apparent that as I was skinning the tongue of the liner would work its way upwards causing my forefoot to move a little forward and feel loose in the liner; if I loosened the by-now loose laces and pushed the tongue back down and re-tied the laces the fit would be snug once again.

    So, i’ve been contemplating ways of keeping the tongue down (or just adjusting the laces from time to time as I always did on my leather boots) while waiting for the thermofits to become available. My point is, you may want to experiment with the liner before changing the buckle if you think your problem is similar to mine.

  22. Michael Pike June 24th, 2011 12:42 pm

    😳 Thanks Andy,
    The odd thing about my M’s is they were most comfortable the day I demoed them. I did 20 miles and 3500 vert with little pain. After molding they had more pressure on each lateral side as noted above plus pressure on the left inside. I had the liners spot heated with some relief, but now again returning. I removed the black superfeet per recommenditation of Federico (sp?) and went back to the stock footbed.
    Probably time to get some pro help as I love these boots and can’t see using anything else for BC.
    Sorry to inject all this personal drama into your great Baker piece Lou.

  23. John Milne June 24th, 2011 4:16 pm

    @Lou – This is the first I’ve heard of the TLT5’s leaking, I’d be interested to hear a little more detail on what part of the flex zone specifically it’s in.

    @Randonee – You can always step up to the Dy.N.A Evo to shave another 200-300 grams off and eliminate the flex zone

  24. Erik June 24th, 2011 5:03 pm

    I haven’t had any issues in the field from leaking, but I’ve avoided the bogs so far :).

    I filled the sink and tested it last night. There was definitely leakage through the pivot limiting rivet. Couldn’t tell if the flex zone seal membrane was letting in water.

    It was enough that I am going to put some sealant around the rivet on the inside and see if there is any change.

  25. colinzzz June 25th, 2011 10:27 am

    nice TR! Guatemalan

  26. Lou June 25th, 2011 10:31 am

    Erik, I’m pretty sure that’s where mine leak, as the water that comes in goes immediately inside my liner and gets my sock wet, so it must be coming in from above.

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