Ascent of Glacier Peak on 2013-07-26

Climber: Mark Smith

Others in Party:Austin D. Smith -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Friday, July 26, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Glacier Peak
    Elevation:10520 ft / 3206 m

Ascent Trip Report

We choose Disappointment Ridge on the south side as the easiest route to the summit, but it was still quite a grunt. With a TH at a little shy of 2200 feet along with numerous downhill sections along the way, you are in for a big climb. The first five miles to the Mackinaw Shelter follow a gently rolling, gradually climbing trail through a fascinating forest. There are several good camp sites and water near the shelter. The climb from the shelter to White Pass involves about 2400 feet of ascent on a generally sun exposed, south facing slope. Fortunately we hit this before the heat of the day. Supposedly this section is only 3.2 miles, but I have to wonder it it's not more. Also, there is an establish campground just feet from the pass, although we didn't use it. From White Pass, a sign reading "Foam Crk" marks a trail which parallels the ridge which extends east from White Mountain. The ridge has about four shallow saddles, at which point the ridge turns north-east with another two saddles before rising to another mountain. Which of the six saddles is the best option? The answer may well depend upon on the snow coverage in the basin on the other side of the ridge. As of the time of this report (mid-July, 2013), I would suggest the farthest of the six, as doing so minimizes travel through the sun-cupped snow in the basin. Earlier in the season one of the closer passes would probably be better. From White Pass, follow the Foam Creek Trail through many small creek crossing and, depending on the time of year, numerous snowfield patches (which could be difficult to cross when the snow is hard) to a large cairn marking the climbers trail to the left. Note that the Foam Creek Trail becomes much less distinct after this point, as most of its traffic diverts to Glacier Peak. The climbers trail is steep in spots and has a significant drop along the way, but the saddle it leads to is a very desirable entry point into the basin which leads to Glacier Gap. Allow plenty of time to negotiate the basin. In general, I would stay high on the south side, especially as you approach Glacier Gap. Earlier in the season, staying lower might make sense. Glacier Gap has sufficient campsites to handle an army and plenty of water at the time of our climb. From the gap, head northwest over a pass and follow the obvious ridge to the peak. The summit push is probably easiest done by crossing the Gerdine Glacier, then transitioning onto the Cool Glacier. (The 2012 Smoot volcano guide denotes this as a "var" to South Ridge - Disappointment Peak.) The Gerdine Glacier is very casual, but significant crevasses begin at the transition onto the Cool. Some climbers solo through these crevasses, but I would not climb the Cool Glacier unroped. From the saddle at the top of the Cool Glacier, the route is apparent. Fortunately most of the remaining climb was still under snow. At the top, stay left to find the summit register. Rainier and Baker were very visible, along with a host of other peaks.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10340 ft / 3150 m
    Extra Gain:1000 ft / 304 m
    Round-Trip Distance:30 mi / 48.3 km
    Route:Gerdine/Cool Glaciers
    Trailhead:N Fork Sauk River  2180 ft / 664 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:3 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Clear
Fair, warm, occasionally windy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Days 19 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Days 5 Hours 30 Minutes

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