Dec 5, 2020: Table Mountain and Ptarmigan Ridge Ski Tour @ Baker Ski Area


In early December, snow slowly started to cover the mountainous areas of the PNW. With snow coverage scarce, we went to Baker with low expectations. However, the NWAC snow forecast showed GREEN avalanche conditions, meaning generally safe snow travel. We defaulted to our go-to tour: the Table Mountain circumnavigation. This is a popular ski tour that does not disappoint!

The route starts at the Baker Ski Area TH.

After passing Artists Point (a popular destination for snowshoers), Mount Baker comes into full view. We transitioned to ski mode and dropped into the south side of Table Mountain.

The south side of Table is an avalanche area, so it important to traverse across it quickly without stopping.

After the traverse, it’s time to put skins back on and climb towards Ptarmigan Ridge. We have always wanted to ski this area, but the wide-open bowl is a high risk avalanche area. With the day being a low-avalanche risk day (green!), we decided to give it a shot.

Our route- ski down the bowl (green), skin up to the base of Video1 Peak (red), and ski down again through the valley.
Clean skin track!

The snow was glorious! We enjoyed the wide open slopes and fresh snow.

Traversing over to drop down lower into the valley

After we made it to the valley, we had to climb back up over 1500 verticals feet to the west side of Table Mountain. We are not familiar with this area- our ski descent look us lower than we had previously been in the past. The climb was a bit challenging- several recent avalanches had previously released in the gully.

Ascending this dumb gully with rollerballs everywhere.

Worried that it wasn’t completely frozen over, I had this great idea to stay high above Mazama Lake. Well, it started out okay…

But it got pretty sticky. Sorry, Andrew!

We eventually made it out of that silly area and climbed up above Iceberg like for a nice run to the base of Table Mountain.

Iceberg Lake is my favorite place to take a break! The views are incredible and otherworldly.

Table and Baker!

We continued the 800 foot climb to the Herman Saddle- the north side of Table Mountain. This is also a popular destination for snowshoers and skiers alike for good reason!

Andrew on the left, Shuksan in the middle, Table on the right

We transitioned to ski mode and skid an icy, rocky, and gross run to Bagley Lakes. Bagley Lakes & Creek are not completely frozen, so we had to travel alongside it.

We got to our car at dusk- 3:45pm. The sun goes down early this time of year! We heated up tea and leftover pizza on the stove and relaxed in our folding chairs before starting the 3-hour drive home.

Total Elapsed Time: 6:34

Total Distance: 8 Miles

Total Gain: 3,400 feet

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