I wasn’t intending to go up Heliotrope/Hogsback but as I got closer to the mountain I found the truck turning up Glacier Creek Road…just to see how far I could drive up before hitting snow. Turns out that answer is about 1.7 miles before the trailhead. And then there were so many other cars there I figured…what the heck! So I put on my boots and my spikes, grabbed my winter day pack and headed on up the road. It was early enough in the day that the snow was firm and while I took my snowshoes for a ride, I didn’t use them until coming down and only because it was easier than post holing but I only had them on for less than half a mile or so.
The weather for the day had split personalities, it was sunny then cloudy then snowing then sunny then cloudy then snowing… The bridge at the start of the trail survived the winter nicely and is melted out. On the way up the hill I passed a group of people skinning up intending to summit the next day. A little distance later I saw a group of three on skis who were a ways off trail and they were a bit lost so I went down and got them and brought them back to the trail. Two of their buddies were a little ways further up the trail sitting in the avalanche zone having a snack. A little while later I saw a nice man sitting waiting for his 5 friends to show up, he had been waiting for almost an hour.
The winter approach follows the summer approach until right before Kulshan Cabin, from there you just pick your path. I was still booting it up with no problems.
As I was approaching Hogsback it started snowing hard and visibility dropped to a couple of hundred feet. I stopped and talked to a nice couple who have moved here to Bhome about 6 months ago from Michigan. I enjoyed the chat, perhaps I will see them again on trail.
Just as the couple moved on I crested Hogsback and the view looking towards the glacier opened up for about 4 minutes and then the snow started to fall and visibility decreased dramatically. I decided to call it a day and head down. It was late enough that the snow was getting slushy so I put the snowshoes on until I was back in the woods where it was firmer.
I passed a large amount of people heading up as I was going out. There was a group of 18 from American Alpine Institute (AAI), 3 seasoned guides and 15 recruits going up for three days of training. I like AAI, I use them when I go up Baker.
After getting back to the road the skies opened a little and I could see the base of Baker and a side hill. I took a picture of the mountain with my mountain, surprisingly hard to do ( :