Ascent of Glacier Peak on 2014-08-08

Climber: Pradeep Narayanashetty

Others in Party:Pradeep Narayanashetty -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Friday, August 8, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Glacier Peak
    Elevation:10520 ft / 3206 m

Ascent Trip Report

8/8/2014 Friday
5:30 PM - Dheepak and I started to drive towards North Fork Saulk Trailhead #649 via Granite Falls and Mountain Loop Highway
8:40 PM - START HIKE - Start and start hiking. We were losing daylight and hence had our head lamps ready to go on anytime. (2080 ft)
11:20 PM - Arrive at River crossing at 11:20 PM and decide to camp there overnight ~4.4 miles. (2880 ft)

8/9/2014 Saturday
7:30 AM - Wake up at 7:30, brush, eat, pack. Had a leisurely start.
9:30 AM - Start hike at 9:30 AM
10: 25 AM - In less than an hour reach Mackinaw Shelter. Up until here the route is pretty flat as you can see we've had only a 1000 ft elevation gain and we've done 5.5 miles (~5.5 miles, 3048 ft)
From Mackinaw Shelter we had to go through a series of 27 switchbacks with steady elevation gain until we reach PCT junction.
2:45 PM - Reach PCT junction at 3 PM. At this junction take the right turn towards White pass. The left turn goes towards Red pass. (5928 ft)
3:30 PM - Reach White Pass - Foam creek trail junction. From here you can see the White pass campgrounds towards your right in the lower areas. We stopped at this junction for a leisurely lunch break and started walking towards Foam creek by taking a left at the fork. (6100 ft)
4:40 PM - Start hike towards White pass at 4:30 PM (6100 ft)
6:00 PM - As we head out of white pass and walk on the trail next to beautiful meadows, we cross several creeks and snow patches. For us this route seemed like a never ending trail and it felt like we might have missed the Foam Creek and have gone too far. We are expecting to get across the mountain to our left and start seeing Glacier peak. We became impatient but decided to continue further. We could see a Class 4 talus towards our left and we were expecting something like this.
We finally reached Foam Creek at around 6 PM. This is where we got the first glimpse of the gorgeous Glacier Peak. The sight of the mountain itself re-energized us. (6410 ft)

After we hiked up towards the Foam creek intersection, we had to cross a steep, scree-like section where we drop below towards the creek and then climb up again. After this we could see the Glacier Peak Meadows and all the glaciers. We knew we had reached wonderland :) and were ready to camp. We decided to continue a little further until we saw a good place to camp. By now we saw two other climbers come our way and made conversation with them. 2 guys by name Thomas and Johann who had similar plans like us were heading the same way as we did. It turns out that these two guys met on and had posted on the forum. Dheepak had actually seen their post and had asked me if we could join them. Somehow that never happened but by a rare coincidence we meet at the Glacier Peak meadows. We even talked about roping up on the same team the next morning while attempting to summit.

We finally reached a place near the creek/river/glacier melt. We were all convinced that it was a good spot and set up camp here. By now my GPS was reading ~15 miles and both Dheepak and I were feeling confused that we might have not read something right about the actual distance of our hike. For some reason we were thinking that each way it was 13 miles to the summit and were feeling that my GPS is buggy. (~15 miles, 6564 ft)
10:30 PM - By 10:30 PM we finished eating dinner, set up tents and were ready to sleep. Dheepak after some deliberation had decided to not attempt summiting the peak the next day and asked the 3 of us to go ahead. We all were on the same page with this decision. Given that Dheepak would spend the whole of the next day on his own, he was kind enough to help me pack, filter water and sleep early.
Johann, Thomas and I did a quick sync up about the plans for the next morning, decided to wake up at 6 AM the next day and start the hike. We felt that leaving too early might not be the best option since we didn't want to do any route-finding without sufficient light. We discussed gear, route options and some protocol (since we all were climbing with each other for the first time)

That night was the super-moon. Dheepak spent time looking at the moon and enjoying the night sky. I decided to get some sleep. I aligned my face to get a glimpse of the full-moon and slept staring at the sky.

8/10/2014 Sunday
6 AM - Wake up and get ready for the day
Thomas, Johann and I wore our crampons, held our ice-axes and started the hike. We bid Dheepak an adieu and exchanged protocol. It was a slow start. We initially crossed the white chuck glacier, tried to follow the boot pack made by other climbers. We tried to stay slightly above the glacier basin and lakes and towards the right of the basin (as suggested by the rest of the fellow hikers we met on the way and following Mike Daly's advice).

The trail was reasonably straightforward but there were parts where we needed to climb up scree or class 3 rock section. Although I was slow and steady throughout I was comfortable leading the route so far and Thomas and Johann were great team-mates who co-operated with almost all the things on our climb.

We wandered from here following the boot-track without lowering towards the bottom of the glacier. We reached the “Glacier Gap” where the White Chuck glacier meets the Suiattle glacier on the map. The white chuck glacier is melted back from the Gap. Glacier Gap is around 7400’ elevation.

In about 2.5 hours from the time we started we reached Glacier Gap our next big landmark. (7486 ft)
We started climbing towards the base of disappointment peak which was clearly visible.
In 30 more minutes we had to drop a bit of elevation and went to the base of disappointment peak. There was a small creek where Johann picked up some water. (7325 ft)
From here we followed the ridge line on disappointment peak and we had already sighted Gerdine glacier and Cool glacier from here and planned the eventual route we would take to summit

11:55 AM - In 2 more hours we crossed the ridge line on disappointment peak, dropped off to do some snow hiking. We faced some steep sections of snow and Thomas taught us to try climbing side ways to prevent injuring our knees and calves. By now we reached the left end of Gerdine glacier.
From here there are actually 2 options.
1. Either climb the class 4, scree/loose rock based route on Disappointment peak. This can be done solo, there would be no glacier or crevasse crossings.
Cross the Gerdine and Cool glaciers. Use crampons, ice axe and if necessary ropes and cross some crevasses and deal with ice fall. Almost none of the people we talked to that day were roped up.(8484 ft)

We decided to go on Gerdine glacier, stay lower to the right as far as we could in a safe way to prevent being in the dangerous rock fall area. Also note that we found the route to be safe enough to go un-roped

12:30 PM - In about 30 minutes we reached the steeper section of the glacier and started traversing slightly left. We reached the area of intersection between Gerdine and Cool glacier. There were a ton of crevasses and seracs, however there were a couple of snow bridges (if I remember correctly there were 2 snow bridges) that looked solid currently but didn't look like they would last more than a week. We carefully walked across this section. We sighted some crevasses that were beautiful and not-so-deep.
After this were had to head back left/west on the relatively flat Cool glacier. We had to cross a snow bridge across a crevasse.

In less than 25 minutes we managed to navigate the Gerdine-Cool glacier intersection section and now reached a relatively flat (~10 degree slope) Cool glacier that had only one crevasse in our path that too leaving behind a fairly wide snow bridge. By now I was fairly exhausted, temperatures were rising but the snow was still solid.

~1:20 PM - We reached the top of Cool glacier and were now at the bottom of the final summit ridge (south ridge). We un-roped here and removed our crampons. Johan decided to go up without a pack while Thomas and I retained a light pack with food and water. (9625 ft)

1:55 PM - We got on to the summit ridge which was scree made up of pumice (Definition:
a very light and porous volcanic rock formed when a gas-rich froth of glassy lava solidifies rapidly.(10129 ft)

After climbing up the ridge and facing some steep snow section just before the summit, we made it to the summit. 15.2 miles of hiking from the trail head and at an elevation of 10520 ft. Johan celebrated his 5th and final volcano (22 miles , 10520 ft)

3:45 PM - We got some summit photos and I took care of some possible blisters on my feet. And we started heading back the south ridge. We knew that we have had a long day so far and still have a long way back. I was trying to estimate what time we would reach camp and guessed that we would be at Glacier Gap by 6:30 PM and reach camp by 8:00 PM at the earliest and 9 PM latest. At the start of the day I had given Dheepak some estimates. I told that the earliest we would be back would be 4 PM and latest by 6:30 PM. I was now a little worried that Dheepak would be waiting for us in anticipation.

4:20 PM - The descent was fairly quick and we got back to the beginning of Cool glacier in about 30 minutes. I decided that we rope up here to reduce any risks during descent as the temperature was quite high (95F) and snow was getting softer. I feared that the snow bridge could've softened by now and it was definitely safer to be on a rope. 9625 ft

5:45 PM - We finally crossed both the glaciers and unroped and from here we descended without crampons as plunge stepping was fairly easy.

6:50 PM - We reached the bottom of disappointment peak and by now we almost ran out of water and as planned we decided to fill up some water in the creek. From here we decided to pick up more pace. (7366 ft)

8:00 PM - By now we were descending through a slightly different trail than we came up and I hesitated looking at the GPS, only to later realize that we've now reached the bottom of White chuck glacier. We traced back our route to get to the top of White chuck glacier to head back to camp. I shouted at the top of my voice to grab his attention but didn't look like he heard us. Dheepak spotted us from camp and started flashing lights at us

9:15 PM - We finally managed to reach camp and the first thing I did was boil water and have dinner. That was the best food I had in a while. GPS showed that I did 28 miles so far.
In the middle of the night I started feeling warm only to realize that the smoke from the eastern fires had caused some sort of inversion effect (as explained by Dheepak) and that was the reason for the increase in temperature. (28 miles 6564 ft)

8/11/2014 Monday
7:30 AM - Dheepak woke me up at 7:30 AM and by now Thomas and Johann had already packed their tents and were ready to head back. We started packing our tents were ready in an hour. We decided to not boil any water here or eat breakfast and instead targeted White Pass as our big rest stop.

8:45 AM - We started heading back
10:15 AM - We reached Foam creek trail intersection and were looking forward to reach White pass
11:15 AM - We reached White pass in an hour but after looking at the descent required to get to the camp site, we decided against wasting more time here and decided to continue further to Mackinaw Shelter where we planned to take a big rest stop. From here the descent was quite strenuous - my feet were hurting and the pack was getting too heavy for Dheepak's shoulders.(5944 ft)
11:45 AM - We reached the PCT junction and filled some water and moved further quickly
~3 PM - Roughly by 3 PM we reached Mackinaw shelter. Dropped our packs, got some nature-call breaks, boiled water next to the river, cooked food, dipped our blistered feet in the river, ate and were ready to finish off the final stretch of our hike by 7 PM (4480 ft)
~7 PM - We finally reached the North Fork Sauk trailhead and signed off at the TH. Some happy moments, photos were taken for memories, GPS trip recorded, changed into cleaner clothes and started driving back.(2080 ft)

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Map with way points (2014-08-08). Photo by Pradeep Narayanashetty.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8450 ft / 2575 m
    Round-Trip Distance:44 mi / 70.8 km
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:8450 ft / 2575 m
    Distance:22 mi / 35.4 km
    Start Trailhead:2080  2070 ft / 630 m
    Time:2 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Distance:22 mi / 35.4 km
    End Trailhead:2080  
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Pradeep Narayanashetty
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Elevation and distance plot (2014-08-08). Photo by Pradeep Narayanashetty.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Map with way points (2014-08-08). Photo by Pradeep Narayanashetty.
Click here for larger-size photo.

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