Ascent of Mount Shuksan on 2014-08-16

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Dave Heinbach
Date:Saturday, August 16, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Shuksan
    Elevation:9131 ft / 2783 m

Ascent Trip Report

Great climb!

Dave and I met at the Glacier Ranger Station at 8am so that we could pick up our permit. He spent the night in his truck in Glacier and I drove up from Seattle in the morning. We took a different route than most parties, though our route seemed popular based on the number of other parties on it. We drove up to the top of the Mt Baker Ski Area to reach the Lake Ann trailhead. This was my first time up here in the summer. It was cloudy and foggy the whole time. We made the quick hike to Lake Ann and beyond before I turned the GPS on to record our route. The climb up the Chimneys was nice as the clouds lifted temporarily and visibility increased. We reached our camp at the top of a steep snowfield on the upper White Salmon Glacier sooner than expected and picked out the best spot to set up. Dave has a cool tent that weighs 2.5 lbs and is tall enough to stand up in. It has quite a bit of floor room as well. I liked it a lot and would consider buying one in the future. Not long after we set the tent up and got settled inside the clouds increased and began depositing a lot of mist but not a full-on rain.

The second day began with a pretty bleak outlook as the clouds had us socked in. We delayed our start for about half an hour, and figured we would go for it and see how the weather went. We immediately climbed the steep ice next to camp on to the Upper Curtis Glacier and began zig-zagging around a few crevasses. We then made the short descent around the bottom of the Hourglass (mis-labeled on the topo) to Hell's Highway. The crevasses looked daunting from below but were pretty mellow up close. We made quick work of the climb up and found ourselves on the Sulphide Glacier. Once on the Sulphide, we trudged upward to the bottom of the SE Ridge of the summit pyramid. At this point, we determined that the rock would be dry enough to do the SE Ridge variation, which included climbing up to 5.4. We made our way up the ridge and about halfway up, the clouds parted to reveal the sun. Sadly, this majestic hole in the clouds only lasted for 15 minutes, but it was on the most scenic 15 minutes of the day. We took a number of pictures. The climbing on the SE Ridge was mostly 4th class, with a few bits of low 5th class and 2 small sections of 5.4 or so. It was good climbing and certainly more rewarding than the gully. By the time we reached the summit, the clouds had returned. Instead of the usual summit register in the metal container, there was a flag placed by the Mazamas. We posed for a picture. We descended the gully, meeting another party that was ascending it. They had also taken the Fisher Chimneys Route, but had camped at Lake Ann. The descent was uneventful, though the cloud moved in on us as we descended Hell's Highway and it began to mist again. Luckily it didn't develop into full blown rain so we just left our soft shells on. Just a little effort was required to get in the right track to descend the Upper Curtis Glacier. We arrived back in camp in good time and quickly got into the tent to dry off. After relaxing for a bit, the weather cleared and we went outside to practice a few glacier techniques for my upcoming Rainier trip.

The third day was uneventful, other than the fact that it was the best weather of the entire trip. When we woke up, the jagged peaks of the North Cascades were laid out before us. Dave and I were easily able to make out Tomyhoi, Canadian Border, American Border, Larabee, and Sleese. Pretty nice. The views of Baker on the descent were incredible. An abundance of ripe blueberries and huckleberries significantly slowed the progress of the team on the return hike to the trailhead...

GPS notes:
I didn't turn the GPS on until we began approaching the chimneys to save battery over trail miles...

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6971 ft / 2124 m
    Extra Gain:1300 ft / 396 m
    Route:Fisher Chimney-Hell's Hwy-SE Ridge
    Trailhead:4760 ft / 1450 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Gear Used:
Rope, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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

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