Mazama Dome

March 7, 2023


Mt. Baker Highway, WA

The peaks and bumps in the immediate vicinity of Mt. Baker ski resort offer some of the highest reward-to-effort ratio and Mazama Dome isn’t an exception. This “peak” is rather just a bump on Mt. Herman’s SW Ridge but does boast over 100 m prominence above Herman/Mazama saddle. When I did Mt. Herman back in July 2018 I skipped Mazama Dome because I thought a summer tag of this peak was simply too lame. At the time I was mostly considering to reserve this no-brainer objective for a day with Instagram model(s) but making a winter ascent would be another option. I eventually opted for the latter after seeing several trip reports on the social media over the past few months. I could easily get this peak done as a before-work exercise, but on the other hand I did need some guaranteed good weather as the views were supposed to be really nice. The oppourtunity came in early March.

The mid-week saw some stable but not “bluebird” weather so I needed to get out. I immediately thought about Mazama Dome. The plan was to drive to the trail-head, sleep in the truck and start at around sunrise but I changed my mind spontaneously at the trail-head. I finished work at 10 pm and subsequently drove out at 11 pm. While driving I noticed a bright full moon looming above and I wondered about the views. The road to the trail-head was treacherous but I had come prepared with the Tacoma and I had to turn on the 4×4. I made to the trail-head at 1:30 am exhausted, but then I got out to take a few photos and immediately abandoned the sleeping plan to start right away. The iPhone photos of the snowy peaks under the bright full moon were surprisingly good and I wanted to take full advantage of that. The forecast was calling for increasing clouds in the morning so I might as well bag the peak while the sky’s clear.

Mazama Dome standard winter route. GPX DL

The initial stretch to descend to Lower Bagley Lake was confusing. In the dark I missed the main trail so I just broke my own trail down to the lake and picked up some sets of skin tracks. I followed the skin tracks and picked up a wider track on the far side of this lower (frozen) lake and easily followed this main set of tracks to the upper Bagley Lake. The full moon combined with the snowy background meant I didn’t even need to use head-lamps for the most parts.

My truck parked at the empty parking lot with Goat Mountain behind
Plodding across the lower Bagley Lake
A brief moment when head-lamps were needed
Looking back at the upper Bagley Lake

The main set of skin tracks traversed higher above the valley floor so I had to deal with some annoying side-hilling on snowshoes, which was fine but not pleasant. Higher up I traversed into the main gulch feature which would eventually bring me to the steeper slopes under Mazama/Herman col. I abandoned the skin tracks as those were inefficient for snowshoe travel. Judging by the tracks there were at least 200 skiers in the area in the past several days but nobody on snowshoes so that’s a bit unfortunate. I went into some skier’s down tracks and post-holed my own way straight up, and then ascended the 35+ degree slope to Mazama/Herman saddle. This stretch was the only spot with avalanche concern so that’s why I also waited for a day when avalanche forecast was M/L/L to do this peak. I then picked up more skier’s tracks on the east ridge of Mazama Dome and plodded easily to the summit at 3 am. There were some micro-terrain on the ridge but nothing really worth noting.

This is just the eastern buttress of Table Mountain
Partway up the “gulch”, looking back at that same buttress
Mazama Dome ahead. Route ascents left and then right
This is the northern buttress of Table Mountain
Following skier’s tracks to traverse towards Mazama/Herman saddle
Looking back at the iconic Mt. Shuksan
A zoomed-in view of that same north buttress of Table Mountain
The rugged sub-summits of Mt. Herman from Mazama/Herman saddle
A frozen lake on the north side of Mazama/Herman saddle
About to plod up the east ridge of Mazama Dome
Looking back at Mt. Herman massif, now with the true summit visible
A zoomed-in view of Mt. Shuksan that I soloed in 2016
My moonlight shadow on the ridge
The true summit of Mazama Dome ahead
A full view of Table Mountain which I also soloed in 2016, in winter
The city glow of Abbotsford at 3 am
Tomyhoi Peak, the Border Peaks and Mt. Larabee to the north
A close-up view of Table Mountain’s north buttress
The true summit of Table Mountain is visible in this picture
Full moon above the cloudy Mt. Baker
Me on the summit of Mazama Dome with Mt. Shuksan behind
Another photo of me on the summit of Mazama Dome

The summit was cold and windy but I came prepared with a gigantic parka, so I put the warm layer on and lingered for at least 20 minutes taking in the views. This experience of plodding under a full moon greatly reminded me some trips that I did back in circa 2013-14 on the Wapta Icefield of Rockies. It was even more epic on the Icefield but unfortunately the camera technology wasn’t as good in the old days. I also made a socials update on the summit as I somehow caught some weak reception from Canada. The descent was rather uneventful but I did need to turn on the head-lamps as the moonlight was not as bright as a couple hours earlier. I eventually got back to the truck at 4:30 am and decided to sleep a few hours at the trail-head. I woke up at 8:30 am with bright sunshine on my face and started the lengthy journey homewards. I became too spent to drive after about an hour on the road, so pulled over and slept till 11:30 am. I eventually got home at 12:30 pm and earned myself another nap before work.

About to head down after taking enough pictures
A review shot of the east ridge of Mazama Dome
I plunged straight down the steep slopes under Mazama/Herman col
The ski resort machines were already working at 4 am…
Plunging into the gulch, now with the moonlight behind the ridge
The connector between the two Bagley Lakes
Back to the parking lot at 4:30 am