Mount Baker

I was in Cranbrook, British Columbia on 19 February 2011 and took advantage of the fine weather to snowshoe up nearby Mount Baker via a service road which runs all the way to the west (true) summit.  In his guidebook, Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies, Mike Potter describes the start of the ascent at a gate about three kilometres after the turnoff from Haha Creek road.  Deep snow prevented me from driving beyond the turnoff, and I was lucky to have even made it that far only because a grader had been running up and down the road that very morning.  The service road is evidently popular with snowmobilers, and I was quite content to walk in their well-packed tracks all the way up.  Despite the easy conditions for snowshoeing, the lack of views along the road was dispiriting, and I found myself pining for my cross-country skis which at least would have energized me with the promise of an exhilarating descent.  The broad summit is disappointingly cluttered with numerous antennas and buildings including the lookout tower, and I could not help wondering how much more amazing the surrounding vistas would have been without all that stuff up there.  Even with sunny skies and no wind, the temperature at the summit was still uncomfortably frosty, and I stayed only long enough to wolf down my lunch and take some half-baked photographs.  My return trip was unremarkable except for a brief shortcut that saved me a negligible amount of distance but served as token justification for using snowshoes on this day.  Upon reaching my car, I was surprised to see the grader still moving back and forth along the road over 6 hours later!  Strangely enough, the ploughed part of the road did not seem any wider than before, and I had a few hairy moments while squeezing by the grader on my drive back to Cranbrook.
I actually got my car stuck briefly here. The lower east summit of Mount Baker is visible from the trailhead.
Until you reach the summit, it doesn't get much better than this. Seriously. At one of the switchbacks in the road, there is a glimpse of Mount Fisher.
The snow-covered trees on the upper mountain make up for the lack of views. Telecommunications equipment indicate that the summit is near.
I wish I had driven a snowmobile up that boring road! A couple of snowmobilers stop near the 2209-metre summit of Mount Baker.
Interestingly, the stairs don't come all the way down to the ground. Among the many structures on the summit of Mount Baker is this lookout tower.
The Steeples never cease to amaze me. The Steeples dominate the view to the east.
Kinda reminds me of ice cream! A tree near the summit is completely plastered with snow.
You'd think someone would have fixed the maps by now! Although the two snowy peaks to the north are commonly regarded as Mount Bill Nye and Lakit Mountain, the official "summits" of both peaks are indicated (as corroborated by various sources*).  Also visible is Mount Assiniboine which is about 157 kilometres away.
Kimberley Ski Resort is somewhere at right edge of the photo. The town of Cranbrook lies to the northwest.  A few named peaks are also recognizable on the horizon.
The face says, "I'm not looking forward to the long walk back down that boring road!" Sonny poses not far from the summit of Mount Baker.
Lone Peak would be another good winter objective in the area. Mount Fisher is the most striking peak to the northeast.  Not so striking is Lone Peak (small and relatively snow-free at left).
This is one SEXY peak! Mount Fisher deserves a closer look.
Mount Darrah will be a challenging future project... Some peaks along the Continental Divide are visible to the east.
Not sure what that other big peak is to the right...probably unnamed! Mount Evans (left) is the one of the more prominent peaks to the west.
Dang! I wish I had skis right now! At far right is the lower east summit of Mount Baker.
Boy, I'm tired! Glad it's a short drive back to Cranbrook! The sparsely-wooded area near the trailhead grants views of the Steeples.
If you count them, there are 10 switchbacks. This is the route as viewed in Google Earth.
Starting from the gate would save about 235 metres of elevation gain and about 6 kilometres off the round-trip distance.

Total Distance:  16.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 15 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  950 metres

GPX Data

*Sources include Toporama, Garmin's Topo Canada v4, and the maps (1:50,000 scale) of 82G12 (Edition 4) and 82G13 (Edition 3).