Herman Saddle Tour
Map: Shusksan Arm
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Start: Mt Baker parking lot - 4200 ft.
High Point: Herman Saddle- 5400 ft.
Level: Moderate to Advanced
The Herman Saddle tour is a perfect half day tour for those short winter days and allows for longer circumnavigation of Table Mountain in stable conditions in late Winter or Spring. Much of the tour winds up a relatively steep face of the south side of Mt. Herman and finally up the rolling slopes of Herman Saddle. Because of its aspect, the snow can be powdery and light in the shadows of Table Mountain allowing for great skiing down steep pitches if you chose your slopes well. The tour begins at the Mt. Baker Ski area parking lot (Upper Lot) at the end of Highway 542. You may want to ski down to the headwaters of Bagley Creek which is usually well covered early in the season before skinning up to begin your traverse across the Bagley Lakes and up the mountain. Skiers should stay centered in the lake area avoiding potential avalanche slopes off of the north side of Table Mountain. Following the summer trail up to Herman Saddle is generally safe however wet sloughs from high on Mt. Herman can cross over the route half way up the trail.
Many skiers and snowboarders have climbed up the north side of Table Mountain and up the natural gullies that are in the elbow of Table Mountain in the past two seasons when colder than normal temperatures and heavy snows have filled in some of the steeper areas with semi-permanent snowfields. However, on normal years, these areas are prone to slides so caution is advised. Know the stability of those slopes before venturing out on them.
When you arrive at Herman Saddle, views of Mt. Baker and Shuksan are stunning. On sunny days, the warm exposed saddle is favorite lunch spot for many skiers though usually you will be alone. You can head back to the base of the ski area or if time allows, drop into the Chain of Lakes area just west of the Saddle. If you head west, you will have excellent tree skiing with variable terrain to challenge you. The run down the back to the start has many options. Skiing down the main gully allows for a wide intermediate run, while heading closer to Table Mountain will provide steeper narrow runs with scattered trees. The areas under the Northern extension of Table Mountain slide regularly so check your conditions carefully.
After descending to the floor of the valley, the ski out follows your route in, with a short climb up to the ski area parking lot. Note: the slopes to your left, on the east face of Mt. Herman are unstable. The Mt. Baker Ski Patrol has rescued several boarders who have ventured on her cliffs looking for air, finding they are severely injured or petrified by the avalanches they have triggered.