Hogsback Camp via Heliotrope Ridge Trail

1 review #2 hike out of 84 in
2.9 mi
Distance
1 hrs 5 min
Time
terrain
2,205 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

This is a difficult one way trail to Hogsback Camp in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The trail to Heliotrope ridge is well maintained and signed thru forest. Hogsback is the traditional basecamp for climbers attempting to summit Mt Baker so expect to see climbing parties coming down later in the day.

Getting Started

Drive past Glacier and follow the mixed surface road to Heliotrope Ridge trail head. There is limited parking by the outhouses, however it is common to park along the side of the road. Make sure you have a North West Forest Pass.


Sights to See


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    3 months, 3 weeks ago
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Public Tracks

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jskelly.p 3 months ago
Heliotrope Ridge
Solo hike mid 50s and partly sunny / foggy. Commute had light traffic and took 2:10 arrived 8:05 Few cars at TH. Clean toilet. Forest Service Road in had some serious ruts and single lane with turnouts ... must drive slowly. Trail tread ok for most part ... steep, muddy in places. First major creek crossing required a search for transit spot. Found a board spanning rocks upstream. Navigating back to opposite side trail was not easy. Left Another couple pondering how to cross. 2nd creek crossing was wider but wasn’t too hard to rock hop. Was actually like 2 crossings because the stream split at crossing point. Turned around at final creek crossing as it was too fast deep and didn’t want to use water shoes. Backtracked to climbers route to do that instead. Climbers route is serious steep. Lots of high stepping, loose rock. screw etc,. Really maxed out my breathing and heart rate. Set my poles to 100cm to aid in placement. Reached a 100 ft snow bank and decided to kick step up it. Snow bank was relatively solid and safe enough to use poles for glissade and the run out area didn’t have big rocks so looked like a safe bet. Took quite a while to kick in steps being very careful to make them deep, test them and use poles carefully. Didn’t get any fear factor but also avoided looking back and down. Later, other hikers thanked me for that work as they just stepped right up the bank using my steps. At top of snow bank chatted with a girl hiker who was returning from a recon of Coleman route as she was going on summit run next week. She was quite chatty friendly. After I suggested it, she decided to glissade with pack cover and ice axe without a problem do that was my plan too. She said the couple I left pondering at 1st creek crossing decided to turn around and head back. Climbing up scree above snow bank was difficult. Lots of hand foot placement work which took a long time. Tactical gloves worked well here. After the snow bank, the Climbers Trail is tough to discern in scree and meadow but Hogsback Camp was easy to find. It is a a series of flat pads on small buttes with rock walls around them. I used one of he higher up ones that had a big rock as a windscreen and a smaller flat top rock as a stool for a lunch spot. Great wind block. Worked out ok. Weather was much cooler being near that much snow so I put on a vest. Saw another butte farther up with multiple tents pitched on it but couldn’t get there too dangerous without crampons ice axe and self arrest knowledge. Saw 3 people in distance up in snow line standing around not sure what they were up to, Saw a couple of other hikers in short sleeves and shirts, they had to be cold if they weren’t moving. Asked a guy about creek crossing and he told story of guide in Patagonia trek advising “just get feet wet ... you can’t avoid it”, On way down passed a climber team of 5 heading to a base camp at 7000’ to summit next day. They looked pretty sweaty tired humping backpacks and climbing gear. Down climbing on climber route was definitely tough. Especially initial drop through scree to snow bank. Hand over hand and sideways counter pressure did the trick. Used garbage bag as glissade base and compressed poles and held them together to use like an ice axe for arresting slide. There was some space between top edge of snow bank and rick but it appeared to still be pretty solid. After some skooching got going but was pretty careful to go slow by digging in heels and poles. Still got some speed and hit bottom harder than expected and got wet from snow. But it worked Ok though. Passed 8 up climbers /hikers on climber route section. I must be the slow boat down hiker as several passed me, feet started to hurt on toe joints because feet were sliding into boot on steep spots. Used 130cm pole setting to improve placement on steep spots. In steepest spot accidentally started a grapefruit sized rock rolling down trail and soon it was out of control hopping and flying down hill and eventually flew off trail. Very dangerous, luckily nobody was on trail, had to be very careful after that. Bugs were present especially in muddy sections but not a problem with steady breezes. Did not have to use bug spray. Kept best on and it wasn’t too hot but probably could have done without it. At return to problematic #1 creek crossing saw dozen uphill hikers crawling all over the place trying to finding spot. At 1pm water was running only slightly faster deeper than 8am morning crossing but board I used for crossing upstream was missing. I made a quick decision to start rock hopping on some rocks under water as long as it didn’t go over top of boot. With careful rock selection and foot testing for slippage and stability and solid pole placement I was able to cross quickly, easy peasy. Made everybody there think twice about their choices . Reached TH at 2-ish . Was pretty tired and feet were extra sore from foot box pounding and resultant hot spots. Slammed more water and set
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