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Routes in Shuksan- North West

Fisher Chimneys T 4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b Mod. Snow
North Face Mod. Snow
White Salmon Glacier Easy Snow
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Type: Trad, Snow, Alpine, 4000 ft, Grade III
FA: Clarensce Fisher, Esther Buswell, Paul Hugdahl, Lars Loveseth, Winnie Spieseke, and Harriet Taylor
Page Views: 4,464 total · 186/month
Shared By: Gretchen 81 on Aug 1, 2016
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

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Description

Fred Becky calls this a "tortuous" route. It weaves through a steep and exposed chimney system on the Shuksan Arm, briefly touches the top of White Salmon Glacier, up a steep snow slope, across the dramatic Upper Curtis Glacier, up a second steep step to the Sulphide Glacier and finishes at the 3/4th class summit pyramid. This route has a lot going on and requires a variety of skills, but the route finding is easier than it seems. The dramatic views change as you weave up this route.

No permit is needed if you camp at Lake Ann, or you will need a permit for the Price XC zone. You can self-register 24hr at the Glacier ranger station. Most people take 2 days or a leisurely 3. Pick your poison, either a longer day from Lake Ann or carrying your overnight gear up the Chimneys for a dramatic bivy above or below Winnies slide. Even on a glorious July weekend there were still permits left late Friday night.

Location

People frequently report difficult route finding on this route. Pay attention and don't over think it!

Follow the Lake Ann Trail starting above the Mt. Baker Ski Resort. Follow the trail past the lake to the valley that drains the Curtis glaciers. Keep following the main trail. Don’t veer off anywhere! Continue up switchbacks through trees. You’ll pass the National Park boundary sign before coming out of the trees and continuing on the trail around drainages and cross scree. Where the official maintained trail ends and the well beaten climber’s trail starts is impossible to tell.

The trail/climber’s trail ends at a small snowfield butting up next to a cliff. It was still deep at the end of July, so I’d imagine it’s there year around. If you look straight across the snow field you’ll see a deep green gully. Look up and right of the gully and you can see a rap station over a tangle of dead tree roots. Head across the snow and get in the gully. Watch out for the moat. Head up the class 3 gully for less than 100ft. When it looks too mossy, look for a downward slanting ramp and the trail heading right. Follow the dirt trail up through heather and trees to the top of the knoll. This is what Becky describes as the 300ft to a “grassy, rocky knoll”.

You’ll see a long slope of snow and talus that drops off right to the Lower Curtis Glacier. Look east (toward the mountain) to the cliff band. You’ll see a right slanting slope at the base and a green gulley almost straight across from the knoll. To get there, drop down maybe 50ft and cross straight across the talus and snow (usually an obvious boot pack) until you reach the cliffs. If you find yourself looking up a gulley with moss or lichen covered rock…it’s the wrong one. The right gulley will have a trail and clean rock from thousands of boots. Scramble up and right 3rd class to a trail. Follow the trail up and right. Get in a deep corner that is a pain with an overnight pack that is 4th class. Follow the TRAIL. The route goes between 3/4th class rock scrambling and steep, exposed dirt trail until the final pitch that is fun 3rd class scrambling straight up to the top veering slight right at the top. You end in a V-notch on the Shuksan Arm. If you ever find yourself climbing mossy/lichen cover rock or on heather without a trail, you’re off route. There are a few thin paths that lead to look out sights over cliffs, take a look but it’s not the route.

From the top of the Arm turn right and a brief traverse across the top of the White Salmon Glacier will take you to a rock outcrop with bivy sights. There are pools at the bottom of this outcrop for water. Above you’ll see the steep slopes of Winnies Slide. Head straight up on the right hand side and traverse left to a narrow rock rib with more bivy sights, and a running stream/waterfall for water. Head up the Upper Curtis glacier on the left hand side then turn right once above the cravesses. Travers under the cliffs to your left on the gentle rolling slops of the upper portion of the glacier. The cliff ends at Hells Highway. Pick your route. There was a boot pack on the far right side, which is shorter but exposed, or take a sharp left and head up longer but less exposed slope. Top out on the Sulphide Glacier.

Take a sharp left and basically parallel the ridge (making a 180 degree turn from the route on the Upper Curtis). From here follow the Sulphide Glacier route to the base of the summit pyramid and pick your route up.

Descent: reverse the route. There are rap stations in the Chimneys to get past the 4th class sections, but there is still a lot of exposed down climbing.

Protection

Basic glacier travel gear. In late season when Winnies slide is ice you might need ice screws and a second tool depending on your comfort level.
Nick Drake
Newcastle, WA
Nick Drake   Newcastle, WA
Incredibly fun route, I highly recommend it late season when seasonal snow on Winnies slide has melted out to expose ice. Also recommend doing the SE ridge on the summit pyramid, with some low 5th bumps, nothing sustained. Much more fun than the class 4 gully (which is a cluster f*#$ bowling alley).

On the approach note, I've done the route late season and when melted out this really isn't accurate:

"Where the official maintained trail ends and the well beaten climber’s trail starts is impossible to tell."

Once you pass the North Cascades NP signpost stay on the main trail through one "gut", as it comes back left look up the talus for cairns that aim you toward the grassy knoll described above. If you stay on the main trail it will take you down to the base of the lower Curtis, nowhere near the route.

My little story from 2014:
chroniclesgnarnia.blogspot.… Sep 15, 2016

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