Mount Shuksan Ski Summit Attempt

Last Tuesday Andre and I set off to summit Mount Shuksan in a day. Andre had been up it before, never in a day. I hadn’t been out of bounds at Baker at all and was stoked to do Shuksan.

Trying to tackle it in a day meant a super early 4 am wakeup and 4:45 departure from Seattle. (I had talked around down from 3:30 am :)).

When we got up to the Baker ski area we found the gate to the White Salmon day lodge closed, not too surprising since the ski area was closed for the day. However, this meant a decent walk in from the road.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Things started to get interesting pretty quick. First the snow was super mushy. I believe schmoo is the technical term. Then as we were skinning through the trees to get over to the glacier I slipped while skinning downhill, pitching forward and cutting my head on my damn whippet.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Only a few minutes later. A little shy of descending with my skins on, I took my skis off so I could jump down a few feet. I failed to secure my skis and the both went for a little ride. Fortunately not too far. But then when I jumped some snow dislodged which then sent one ski for a ride out of sight. Frustrated, I booted down to find it, only to find a waterfall between me and the ski.

No problem. We brought rope.

Andre setup a rappel from a tree and down we went 25 meters.

I look much too excited here for the disruption I caused to our ski tour.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Forty five minutes later… And with me now carrying the rope, we resumed skinning from the toe of the White Salmon Glacier realizing that a summit attempt was definitely long gone. Regardless, up the White Salmon we went!

The snow pack was definitely funky. Our poles would go in half way without any effort. It was warm. Small little wet slides were releasing as early as 9 am and lots of evidences of releases the days before.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The view of Shuksan while going up the White Salmon Glacier is very impressive with the hanging glacier seemingly spilling off the top. What’s even crazier is that someone skied the Hanging Glacier the weekend before. Just incredible! And all the time every thirty minutes you’d hear a rumble as the glacier shed snow and ice.

Continuing up, at ~6700′ or so feet you get incredible views of Mount Baker.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Hard to believe we summited it less than a year ago.

At about 7000′ we pulled the plugged but not before looking down upon the Lower Curtis Glacier and marveling at the lines people had skied and up at the Upper Curtis Glacier.

The descent was pretty straightforward. Up top was reasonably enjoyable. Down low it got super sloppy.

We were going to try and do a high traverse back to the ski area but without much effort I triggered a small wet slide about six inches deep ten feet across:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This convinced us to stick to lower angle terrain and kill the traverse which goes under some steeper terrain.

Now by the time we got to the bottom of the glacier and started to head back up the trees, through an old clear cut, we were kinda tired. The snow in the trees was super mushy with the snow pack pulling away in sections. Let’s just say it was the hardest 700′ feet I’ve skied. By the time we got the top we were wiped. There must be a better way!

Fortunately the food and beer at Chair 9 refueled us for the long drive back to Seattle.

We vowed we’d be back!

This entry was posted in Random. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *