Ascent of Mount Baker on 2010-01-05

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Petter Bjorstad
Paal Bjorstad
Date:Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Taxicab
Peak:Mount Baker
    Elevation:4843 m / 15892 ft

Ascent Trip Report

This peak was climbed as part of the Bujuka circuit, the day after Margherita Peak (Mt Stanley). For details of the main trek see the Mount Stanley report

Leaving Kitandara hut at 07:11, our ascent starts almost immediately, through fairly dense forest with the usual stretches of bog, slippery tree routes, rock and the odd ladder. Fine views open up, across to the Mt Stanley peaks (including Margherita and Alexandra) and down into Congo. In 50mins we are at Freshfield Pass (4246m GPSr, 4280m / 14050ft on sign) which separates Baker from the Mt Luigi di Savoia group to the S. After a short break we head for Baker: a cairned route, initially a little boggy with interesting vegetation and a few rocky stretches with some scrambling. The first significant scrambling pitch is a steep gully. Above this, the terrain is dry and we swap our trusty rubber boots for mountaineering boots. At least, the other 3 do. I only have plastic boots and prefer to climb in my wellies, following the example of the guides, although they seem anxious that I take my plastic boots. To avoid upsetting them I carry this extra 2.9kg of pointless footwear to the summit and back. The wellies are absolutely fine for scrambling.

The route keeps generally L of the ridge, avoiding the first summit, crossing a notch, descending 15m, then ascending on rocky ground with several scrambling pitches, some of them quite interesting. Eventually we reach the crux: a 10m downclimb into a steep snow gully - exposed but with excellent holds - we don't use the rope. For the more slender climber, it is less exposed to keep close to the main face; however there is a more elegant but more exposed route on the outside. The snow is soft in the gully, approx 20m wide, easily crossed, with ice axe for security. Then a short slabby walk leads to the summit (signboard, shelter cairn and a triangulation marker "Rwenzori Geodetic Survey 2006" - one of the guides was present when the trig was placed. There's a fine view across to the Stanley group. At the summit my GPSr recorded N0-21-42 E29-53-35, 4849m. Semper peak, 4794m, just to the N, looks extremely fine: we are lucky to see it as the clouds come in after a few minutes and we head down. After the initial "crux", Sebestian keeps a little further L (higher) thereby avoiding one of the more tricky scrambles. We are back at Freshfield Pass at 13:00.

The remainder of the trek is described in the main Mount Stanley report
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1011 m / 3326 ft
    Elevation Loss:1523 m / 5006 ft
    Distance:10 km / 6.2 mi
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Rope, Guide, Porters, Hut Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:912 m / 2998 ft
    Extra Loss:49 m / 164 ft
    Distance:3 km / 1.9 mi
    Route:Normal route (S ridge)
    Trailhead:Kintandara hut  3980 m / 13058 ft
    Time Up:7 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1474 m / 4842 ft
    Extra Gain:99 m / 328 ft
    Distance:7 km / 4.3 mi
    Trailhead:Guy Yeoman hut  3468 m / 11378 ft
    Time Down:2 Days 

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