Ascent of Glacier Peak on 2015-07-04

Climber: Petro Ksondzyk

Date:Saturday, July 4, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Glacier Peak
    Elevation:10520 ft / 3206 m

Ascent Trip Report

Since the Suiattle road was recently repaired, we decided to do North approach and climb the peak through the Vista glacier. We had 9 people in our group. The approach follows the Suiattle trail for 7.3 miles and joins with the PCT. In another 0.2 miles there is a new bridge over the river. There's also a nice campsite near the bridge over the Canyon Creek (7.2 miles from the trailhead). In another 4 - 4.5 miles there is a junction with the upper Suiattle trail and PCT. There are a couple of spots for camping as well. Until that spot, the trail is mainly flat and the elevation gain is only 1000ft. We followed PCT from to the top of the ridge with a lot of switchbacks and about 3000ft elevation gain. When you get on the ridge to the open terrain there are a few spots for camping. We camped at the site that follows the obvious trail to the left from the PCT (about a 100ft away @5700ft elevation). There was a small creek with running water for a short section that later disappears under the ground. If you continue the trail up higher for another couple hundreds ft of elevation gain, there are some more possible camp spots on the open terrain with little creeks for the water source.

The next day we started the climb at 3 am. Followed the PCT trail for 0.5 miles until you see the ridge on the left side and the trail bearing to the right. Ascend the slope to the right of the ridge where it looks like a little saddle with some trees. Cross the dense tree section and follow the ridge traverse on the west side for a couple hundreds feet. There will be a little gully which will bring you up on the ridge. You can also ascend up the ridge directly from the PCT, but there are a few dirt gullies with steep dropoff that we tried to avoid. Once you are on the ridge follow it for 0.2 miles where you can see Vista glacier moraine. Traverse to the left and continue North to get to the base of the glacier. There are almost no crevasses on the Vista and only a few shallow ones up higher just before the Kennedy Pass. From the pass we were considering two options: one was to do the Kennedy Glacier and the other one to ascend the Frostbite ridge and go up to the Rabbit Ears. The Kennedy Glacier is pretty broken up by this time and some of the crevasses might be a challenge to pass, therefore we decided to pick the second option. At 8700ft you reach the base of the slope going up to the Rabbit Ears. We ascended it on the snow and reached the rock formation at the top. The snow was soft enough to kick the steps in and there were only a few spots with harder ice under that required some caution.

Once on the rock formation, bypass it to the right and scramble down on the loose rock to the beginning of the false summit slope at the top of the Kennedy Glacier. A short section of the steep snow will bring you on the false summit. From there drop down SW to the base of the true summit. At this time of the year there's already a hard ice formed on the lower section of the slope. Fortunately we had a few ice screws with us and climbed one pitch (about 50m) of the ice section to get to the less steep snow section. The steepest part of the ice section is about 60degrees and it was easily climbable without the second tool. The finals 200ft ascend was mainly on the snow with some short icy section in the middle. We protected it with the screws and the picket just below the summit.

We met a few people on the summit that were coming from the standard route. The ascend from the south seems to be almost snow free and most of the people coming from the south were not even roping up. 15 minutes later we started our descend. I set up the rappel for the team on the ice pitch and then down climbed it to not leave any gear behind. Shortly we were back at the Rabbit Ears formation. From there it was a straight forward path down following the same route we ascended. We reached our camp at 6-30pm.

The next day was a long 17 miles hike out to the trailhead. It was so great to get to our beer stash in the cold river at the trailhead. It was quite a motivation to get back to the trailhead as soon as possible :) It was a great celebration of the Independence Day on one of the remote peaks in the Cascades. A great climb with the great people.

Note: in case you want to advance your camp further on the approach you can get down from the ridge just before the base of the Vista glacier. There were a few running creeks and flat sports that would fit a few tents or many bivy.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8920 ft / 2718 m
    Round-Trip Distance:42 mi / 67.6 km
    Route:Vista Glacier - Frostbite Ridge
    Trailhead:Suiattle TH  1600 ft / 487 m
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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