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Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Shuksan/Fisher Chimneys

Great route, but strenous and technically challenging. Strongly recommend only small parties (eg 3-4) with screened participants. Highly recommend high camp (above the Fisher Chimneys, either above or below Winnie's Slide).

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Route was in very good shape. No snow in the Fisher Chimney's. The steeper 4th class sections all have rap stations. Winnie's Slide was steep snow with bucket boot track. Running water available both above and below Winnie's Slide. Some crevasse navigation across the Upper Curtis Glacier. Hell's Highway was even steeper snow (protected with two pickets). Only minor ice patches on the Upper Curtis and Sulphide Glacier. There was a snow patch on the summit pyramid but no snow on route in the "central gully". The central gully has an abundance of rap stations and options.

We decided to use a high camp (above the chimneys) instead of camping at Lake Ann, to better balance the effort between the approach day and the climbing day, and avoid climbing the chimney's in the dark. This worked out really well. We camped above Winnie's Slide at the base of the Upper Curtis Glacier. Beautiful bivy sites on dry ground with abundant running water nearby. However, the high camp does require a backcountry camping permit from North Cascades NP (Price cross-country zone). We had no problem getting a walk-up permit Saturday morning at the Glacier service center. Amazingly, nobody else in line at the 8am opening.

The route is deceptively long and travel is slow because of the abundance of challenging terrain - steep rock scrambling, steep snow slopes. Difficult choices between climbing roped and unroped and achieving the right trade-offs for speed and safety.

Because of this, I strongly recommend only attempting this route with small parties, say 3-4 folks, and screening participants for experience. We had 8 people with two leaders, and one of the participants was too inexperienced for comfort.

We took 6:45 from TH to high camp. 10:20 RT from high camp to summit to high camp. This includes losing a couple hours to getting off route on the summit pyramid. Then 6:40 from camp to TH. We left camp at 4am and got back to the TH at 10pm. In retrospect, a 3am start would have been better, even if we hadn't had route-finding issues on the summit pyramid.