Colin and Jen were headed up for Jen’s first time on Baker this weekend and I decided to tag along. We drove up Friday night pretty late, arriving just below the trailhead at midnight. A 5am wakeup had us moving at about 5:30am in trail runners with skis and boots on our backs.
The road had some snow on it, but much of the trail was bare or too patchy to skin, so we were glad to wear shoes until the normal clearing at the base of Heliotrope Ridge where we switched to skis. It was icy enough in the early morning that we needed ski crampons to get up the ridge, but things softened quickly in the sun and we took the ski crampons off after gaining the ridge.
We took a direct line through the flat camp area while most folks were going high—this saved us some time. We were at the saddle at about 9:45am and switched to boots and crampons here as the ridge looked pretty icy and not worth skinning. This was the right call. I put my head down through the Roman Wall and got to the summit at 11:30am on the dot. I’d gone quickly enough that I decided to wait for Colin and Jen so we could ski down together, but got cold up there in increasing winds, so I skied down to the saddle to wait in a warmer spot, running into them on the way and letting them know.
The Roman Wall was pretty icy up high for the first 500 feet or so, but then softened up a little bit and was more enjoyable. Skiing from the saddle down to our shoes was much more fun, particularly in the middle where there was a great corn harvest. It got a bit wet and heavy down low, but never terrible, even with my matchstick 78-waist skis. The hike out went easily and we were back at the car around 3:30pm.