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Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Shuksan/Sulphide Glacier

Beautiful area. Long day on summit block with gully no longer in shape and everyone crowding the arete instead.

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • Snow melting fast. Water available at higher camp. Minimal crevasse on Sulfide Glacier. Snow in summit block gully breaking up and discontinuous, so all parties choosing to go on the arete instead. Very crowded. Best done with smaller party, in rock shoes, and moving on running belay if possible. Rappel slings in place starting just under the summit. May be possible with a single 60m rope, but we chose to use two 60m ropes instead for all rappels.

Our group of 11 left Shannon Ridge trailhead at 9AM. We made good progress up the slope, reaching the col after 3 hours before collecting more water and heading up toward high camp. Glacier plateau reached at around 2PM. Set up tent and then tried to get out of the hot sun to get some nap. Happy campers:


By the way, higher toilet is located at the highest point on snow at western edge of the plateau. Best view in the area:


There was another large group in the high camp area when we arrived, so we chatted with them to stagger our start time and hopefully avoid route congestion. They left at 2AM and we left at 3AM. Earlier start would have meant getting on rock in the dark. We initially discussed 10AM turnaround time, but shifted to 7AM turnaround if we were not moving on rock by then. Assumption was that once we are on the rock, we are committed and would have to summit.
That other group arrived at the top of snow on summit block ahead of us, but were sitting / preparing and let us pass. We started at the obvious notch above, fixing ropes and protecting with prussik individually. That worked well enough, but it took us five pitches or so and leader had to wait a few times for rope to be retrieved and come back to the front. Best if that could have been done as running belay, but hard to do with 11 people.

We started on rock around 6:45 or so. There were some hard sections where participants were not able to move through quickly. Rock shoes may have been better. That would have also allowed directly tackling the ridge instead of going around. We got stuck behind some of the teams that we had let pass. Everyone on top around 12:45, almost 3 hours later than original turn around time. We still had a long day ahead of us. Looking across the gully to one of the rappel stations:


Rappel took a long time. We were off the final rappel (fourth or fifth? Can’t remember) after 5PM. That was even with everyone rappelling on two separate strands individually fixed. Descent on glacier was fast - returning to camp at 6PM. Packed up, hydrated, and started hike down at around 6:45. Last person reached the car at 10PM.

[Photo credit - Kate Goldenring]