The Mount Baker Ultra is a 56 mile out and back foot race from the town of Concrete Washington to Mount Baker's Sherman peak at 10,160ft (3,097m). The race draws it's inspiration from the century old Mount Baker Marathon that lasted for three years from 1911-1913.
The town of Concrete is located on Highway 20, 96 miles from Seattle or 170 kilometers from Vancouver BC. Concrete sits at an elevation of 276ft.
Sherman peak is the second highest peak on Mount Baker, with Grant peak being the highest at an additional 621ft. Sherman peak is on the list of “Top 100 Washington Peaks”
The Mount Baker Ultra Marathon will start at 12:00 AM Sunday May 31st. The race has a 50 participant limit with an overall cutoff time of 18 hours or 6:00PM.
From the start in downtown Concrete the course follows Forest Service roads out to the Upper Baker dam, where you may get your first glimpse of the mountain. After 26 miles competitors will ascend the Squak glacier, utilizing almost 2 miles of fixed ropes. Once you have reached the summit it's all down hill from there, retracing your steps back to the finish in Concrete.
The weather and snow conditions can be extremely varied, from raging snow storms to blistering heat. This should not be your first time in severe mountainous conditions. All participants should have the ability to be self sufficient while on the mountain. There will be aid stations manned by volunteers on the glacier for your safety.
The course is a 56 mile out and back from the town of Concrete Washington to Sherman Peak. Competitors will cover 47 miles of gravel Forest Service roads, 6 miles of snow trail and over 3 miles of glacier travel. The high point of the course is Sherman Peak at 10,160ft with an overall elevation gain of roughly the same. All glacier travel will require participants to wear a harness along with other mandatory gear and ascend and descend fixed ropes flanking the entirety of the Squak glacier. This is an extreme mountain event, snow conditions, weather, elevation and exhaustion add to it’s difficulty. High winds, freezing temperatures, snow, rain, lightning and avalanches can occur at anytime, you are entering this race at your own risk.
The race starts Sunday June 2nd at 12:00 AM, take note of this start time. The time limit is 18 hours with a cut off at 6:00 PM. Runners must reach Sherman Peak by 11:00 AM. Additional cut offs are being reviewed for the 2020 race.
There will be 6 aid stations along the course. You will arrive at aid stations 1-5 twice. Aid stations 1-3 will be fully stocked with you typical ultra food. Glacier aid stations 4-6 will have limited amount of food and water. You must take enough food and gear to be self sufficient on the mountain section.
There is one drop bag location, this is at aid station 3 snowline. This is where you will pick up your mountaineering pack and transition from the run to the climb. On the return trip you may drop your mountaineering gear here and run to the finish. Bags will be returned to the start finish by 6:00 Pm.
CLICK HERE to go to the course map.
Photos by Chris Duppenthaler 2018
Not an experienced mountaineer? that's okay. We’ve created a course that allows for the aspiring mountaineer to reach the 10,160ft summit of Sherman peak. We strongly encourage you to take a basic mountaineering course if you have not. You must be confident in your ability to self arrest and know how to properly use your equipment. We screen racers prior to entry into the race. Please understand this is for safety reasons.
To be accepted into the Mount Baker Ultra you must send us a resume.
Send a brief resume highlighting your ultra running / mountaineering or endurance background. It does not need to specifically be mountaineering or ultra running related, are you a whitewater kayaker, endurance cyclist or open water swimmer? We are looking for your ability to be self sufficient in physically demanding, remote and difficult situations. You must have completed a 50 mile ultra with 8,000ft of gain in 2018 or before race day. If you feel you can complete the race but do not have a 50 mile qualifying run please send us and email and Let us know how your training can get you up and down the mountain on race day. The Mount Baker Ultra is a 56 mile out and back and it’ll make you as tired as running a 100 miler, so it’d be good if you know what that feels like.
Race Director - Dan Probst at Mtbakerultra@gmail.com
Registration is hosted at UltraSignup.com Note: for the 2020 race we need to hit a minimum of 50 runners in order for the race to go forward as planned. Pre-registration is open now. When you pre-register through Ultra signup your name will be added to the list of runners. Once we hit 50 runners we’ll provided more information on how to complete registration. The deadline to reach our 50 runner minimum/limit is December 31st 2019.
Refund Policy: We do not offer refunds once registration is complete.
Drop bag - Purchase a large duffel bag for your aid station 3 drop bag. Please have all your gear fit inside this bag, and not tied to the outside. When returning from the mountain, place all your gear in this bag so we can get it back to you.
Racers must have the following gear with you leaving aid station 3:
medium sized backpack for the climb.
ice axe or whippet
2 standard non locking carabiners for your lanyard. Note: do not use the magnetic locking carabiners, they will freeze shut.
More info on the lanyard set up TBA.
crampons with 1 inch teeth (no Yack tracks or Micro spikes) Kahtoola or other strap on types okay.
2 liter water container
Clothing - absolutely no cotton
extra upper base layer
puffy upper insulation layer - down or synthetic loft
waterproof jacket with hood
waterproof shell pants
waterproof boots or shoes
1 extra pair wool socks
snowshoes - On average the snow will be hard on the way up in the early morning and soft and punchy on the return. Lightweight running snowshoes are recommended. You may temporarily drop these at any aid station on the ascent but but must pick them up and return them to your drop bag.
Trekking poles with baskets - You may use trekking poles throughout the course. While on the fixed ropes you must have your ice axe in hand.
A towel to dry off
Clean dry cloths and shoes for the return run to the finish.
Crewing is only allowed at the Kulshan campground aid station 2.
Spectating is encouraged at the start and finish in the town of Concrete and at aid station 2 Kulshan campground. Spectating is discouraged at aid station 3 and on Mt. Baker during the event for safety reasons. Forest Service roads 12 and 13 leading to the Schieber's Meadow are expected to have heavy weekend recreation traffic and very limited shoulder parking.
There is no pacing allowed on the course. There are two exceptions where friends or family may join a runner. They may join you when crossing the Upper Baker dam into aid station 2 Kulshan campground and on the return. And from the DNR gate on lake Shannon road to the finish.
Results can be found at UltraSignup.com
Note the 2017 finish times are base on an altered course and do not reflect the current course.
2018 and 2019 times are true to the average finish times.
Help us put on one of the greatest races that has ever been run up Mt. Baker. The logistics of this race are as epic as the race its self. With 6 aid stations stretched between Concrete and the summit of Sherman Peak. We are looking for every skill set in between, from helping out at the start and finish to setting pickets and rope at 10,160. If you’re interested in being part of the team, send us and email, subject: Volunteer. Thank you!
The idea for an ultra version of the Mt. Baker Marathon was envisioned by Dan Probst in 2012. In 2013 a group run from Bellingham Bay to the summit of Mt. Baker and back was attempted. All three first attempts of the 108 mile route would end without a return trip; lightning storms, pouring rain and exhaustion delayed a successful summit and return. On the forth attempt in August of 2014 Beat Jegerlehner, Aaron Poh and Daniel Probst made the summit and return trip to Bellingham in 48 hours and 17 minutes. These group runs were repeated in 2015 and 2016 with 12 more runners adding their names to the list.
Since day one the goal has been to test a route and logistics that would lead to a race. Finding a route that could be permitted proved to be a difficult endeavor. After exhausting all efforts to host the race from Bellingham, a new route had to be found. Two routes were officially used for the early races, the Deming route and Glacier route, and in 1912 a third route from the town of Concrete was thrown into the mix. The Concrete route would prove to be the winning (permitted) route for the modern day ultra version of the race.
The original Mount Baker Marathon was thought up in 1909 by a group of Bellingham mountaineers and businessmen. They would soon organize to become the Mount Baker Club and host the first Mount Baker Marathon in 1911. The race started in Bellingham and took runners via train or car to trail heads on Mt. Baker. Then runners would tackle the roughly 30 mile out and back to the summit on foot, returning to finish in Bellingham which ever way they could. The race was held for three years from 1911-1913. After several near tragic accidents and some calling the race, “a human horse race” the race was ended.
Over the years that followed suggestions were made to revive the race, but no action was taken. On June 4th 2017, 17 racers toed the starting line for the first race up Mt. Baker in over a century. Leaving the cars and trains in the past, the race is now completed entirely on foot, covering more then 50 miles from the town of Concrete to the summit of Sherman peak and back.
The races origin story is told in the documentary "The Mountain Runners". You can stream the full documentary by renting it on the Play store, Itunes or youtube. Links can be found on the The Mountain Runners website.