Mount Shuksan Fisher Chimneys Climb Itinerary
Perfect trip. Bivy in the sky, best lodging ever. It was a fantastic camp. The guides were most attentive in helping get set up and seeing to it that our needs are met. Very challenging and rewarding climb. –2020 Climber
We’ll meet at 6:30am at the Alpine Ascents Seattle office and start with a gear check. A thorough gear check ensures everyone is fully equipped and prepared for the course. Rental gear is fitted and packed at this time.
From the office, we will drive to Mt. Erie to learn the basics of rock climbing in a spectacular setting. The climbing areas on Mt. Erie overlook the Puget Sound, with panoramic views of the San Juan Islands, the Olympics, and several of the Cascade volcanoes. Students will learn belaying, rappelling, lowering, descending, rope management and climbing techniques. Plan to spend several hours practicing movement skills and working on technical skills that will be used on the summit pyramid of Mount Shuksan. In the evening we will set up camp at a campground near our approach trailhead.
The group will pack up and ready themselves for the approach on the mountain. This hike is one of the most scenic in the Pacific Northwest with old growth forests, alpine meadows, and stunning views of Mount Baker. The trail terminates near Lake Ann, a popular destination, with majestic views of the calving Curtis Glacier. From the lake we start the climb up the Chimneys. This is 800 vertical feet of 3rd and 4th class scrambling and provides an unsuspecting passage to the upper mountain. After several hours in the Chimneys, we top out on the mellow White Salmon Glacier and pull out our crampons and ice axe in anticipation of climbing the notorious Winnies Slide: a 200-foot-tall steep snow & ice slope that leads to our bivy in the clouds. This camp is spectacular; perched on a rocky rib between the Upper Curtis and White Salmon Glaciers. In the evening, the group prepares for the summit bid.
Depending on conditions, the team will leave camp between 5am and 8am for their summit bid. The technical challenges start directly above camp while ascending the moderate, but icy, slopes of the Upper Curtis Glacier. The route then weaves through massive crevasses towards a passage up towards the Sulphide Glacier. This steep slope, named Hell’s Highway, gives the climber another challenging steep snow pitch. After the steep snow is surmounted, the route mellows out for the next 1,000 feet before reaching the famous Summit Pyramid. There are two options to the summit. If conditions allow, we try to climb the SE Ridge, which is a fun and exposed ridge of 8-10 short alpine rock pitches. The Central Gully is a fine alternative if there is poor weather or the team is running behind schedule. The Central Gully will also act as our rappel descent route. This is a big day of alpine climbing that uses a variety of techniques from rock climbing to steep snow and ice. A typical roundtrip summit push is 8-10 hours from camp.
We pack up camp and descend the steep sections of the White Salmon Glacier and the Fisher Chimneys. Often guides lower climbers down the steeper sections but much of the terrain requires careful yet efficient down climbing. Once at the base of the Chimneys, the technical challenges are over and it is a pleasant hike back to the trailhead.
Itinerary subject to change due to conditions.
Mount Shuksan was a blast! My guide’s decision making, safety systems, and experience were at the highest level. The experience was challenging, rewarding, and purely just a lot of fun.