Leave No Trace Climbing Techniques on Mount Baker

Leave No Trace is a philosophy of outdoor ethics that can help limit human impact on backcountry environments. Please follow these guidelines to keep all of our experiences on and around Mt. Baker undiminished.

1. Plan Ahead & Prepare

Know before you go! Knowledge about the weather, trail and route conditions, regulations/restrictions, trip and meal plans are all important elements towards accomplishing a successful trip. Make sure all these topics are addressed and in line for you adventure.

Climbing Registration
Prior to your climb sign-in using the Voluntary Climbing Register at the Sedro-Woolley or Glacier Service Centers. Stopping in to voluntarily register before a trip allows parties to catch up on need to know mountain information. Information on the registration form could be helpful in the event of an emergency for your party.

Search and Rescue
Good planning preparation for your climbing experience should reduce the chance of accident of injury. Should an emergency arise from which a party cannot self-rescue, call 911 and alert the dispatcher of the situation. Search and Rescue (SAR) operations on Mt. Baker are conducted by Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department. Cell phone coverage on Mt. Baker is sporadic, so do not rely on it for initial request for help.

2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

Durable surfaces around Mt. Baker include trails and established campsites, rock, gravel, snow and glacier. Help protect water sources by camping well away from streams.

Campsite Selection
Use designated sites where required in the Mt. Baker National recreation Area, and existing sites elsewhere on the mountain. To protect resources practice the following: 
  • Do not dig trenches around tents.
  • Do not cut into hillsides or ridge tops to level sites.
  • Do not pull rocks from vegetated areas to make wind breaks around tents
  • Do not cut or pull vegetation to lay down as padding under tents, sleeping bags or pads.
Camp Safety
Spending a night or two on Mt. Baker can be an exciting experience. Be aware of potential hazards and practice these LNT tips for a safe camp.
  • Make sure tents are anchored securely . Unsecured tents could blow away in a gust or during strong winds that can come up unexpectedly.
  • Choose a safe location away from falling rocks or ice.
  • When camping on glacier, probe for crevasses and set up a safe zone. Do not go outside the safe zone unroped.
These photos show examples of poor campsite selection.
Here a tent was set up where there was no existing site
 on top of vegetation and too close to water sources.

This photo shows where vegetation was scraped off, rocks and
soil dug out of the ridge top, and a new tent platform constructed. 

Here a tent was placed on Heather, fragile sub-alpine vegetation
that is not resilient to foot traffic or camping activities.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out! Parties should leave absolutely nothing on the mountain. Practice these methods for dealing properly with human waste, garbage, and waste water on Mt. Baker.

Human Waste 
  • Toilets are not available on Mt. Baker. All climbers need to pack-it-out.
  • Use a Blue Bag or other waste removal system for all human waste whole on Mt. Baker or within the alpine and sub-alpine environment.
  • Dispose of waste properly once off the mountain.
  • Burying waste or Blue Bags in the snow or throwing waste down a moat or crevasse is not acceptable.
  • Secure all food and garbage in storage bags in a mound like shape inside your tent or buried in the snow.
  • Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • If your party uses wands for the ascent, make sure to pull them as the last member of the group descends back down the route and carry them off the mountain.
Waste Water
  • Use a strainer to catch your food scraps and waste from your grey and dish water.
  • Food scraps and waste caught by the strainer can then be placed into your camp garbage rather than onto the neighboring soils and environment.

4. Leave What You Find

  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, dig trenches or alter the landscape in any form.
  • Do not disturb rocks that are embedded in crypto biotic soils or near vegetation as a substitute for tent anchors or wind breaks.
  • Use features that already exist but please don't improve them.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires cannot be built within 1 mile slope distance of a trail.
  • Campfires are not permitted within the NRA (National Recreation Area, southside of Mt. Baker)
  • Minimize your campfire impact by minimizing your campfire use. Campfires built in poor fashion and locations can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry.
  • Where fires are permitted, use only established fire rings, fire pans or mount fires.
  • Keep fires small by using sticks from the ground that can be broken by your hands and are no larger in circumference than your thumbs.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

6. Respect Wildlife

  •  Please observe the wildlife from a distance and do not follow, chase or approach them.
  • Never feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife can damage the animals health, alter they're behavior and make them more susceptible to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife by storing your food rations and trash securely. Overnight users on Mt. Baker are encouraged to pile their food and trash into a mound in the center of their shelter within a stuff sack or bear proof container. Often the best choice is to keep your food with you.
  • Pets need to be under voice command or on a leash. Please control pets at all times.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors by being conscientious and courteous not to detract from their wilderness experience.
  • Yield to others on the trail. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks off of the trail and out of the way of other visitors.