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Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Shuksan/Sulphide Glacier

Successful summit via the gully

  • Road rough but passable
  • (Probably) unavoidable steep snow present in the beginning of the gully - we kept teams roped and ran a picket line using all 7 pickets the party brought. After that we unroped and scrambled to the top - there are two small and shrinking snow patches near the top which were avoidable without any difficulty. On descent we tied together two 40m ropes to rappel the snow field, but the party was comfortable down climbing the rest of the route. 

Our party of 9 met at the Shannon Ridge trailhead at 8:00AM, and I had the distinct satisfaction of fitting 6 people and gear in my childhood minivan, channeling my inner soccer-mom and only bottoming out a couple times on the roughest parts of the road. After dividing group gear we took about 4.5 hours to get to high camp at 6,400’. 

On the hike inOn the hike in


A couple of our tents with our destination on the horizon

While no tent platforms were melted out, there was running water down the gully past the saddle, which we were all grateful for (and of course for the toilet as well). I think there are more platforms melted out at the lower camp (6,200’) as well as running water and a toilet which rangers told me was emptied last week.

After chatting with a few teams coming down (lots of folks late in the day - seems like car-to-car was popular) we decided on a 2AM start time to beat the crowds but still have daylight on the summit pyramid. This turned out just perfect, as we were the first on the pyramid but with other teams not far behind. 

In the beginning of the gully there is a patch of steep snow with bad runout. We tackled it at about 6AM, and even though overnight temps were warm, snow conditions were good for getting solid steps. To get to this snow patch, you must cross a moat from the main snow field (not too bad) and do a very short scramble. We left rope teams tied together and ran a picket line through the snow field.


Claire setting pickets - she’s about to cross back onto rock which was the end of snow in the gully for us


Looking back the way we came - you can see the boot pack on the right side

After this snow field we unroped and began scrambling. There are a few places with demanding moves, and although the exposure is low the rest of the gully is right below you and there’s still potential for a long tumble, so it can be heady (personally I would call the gully class 4). We were prepared to rig fixed lines for prusiking in a few places but as it turned out everyone powered through and we made great time to the summit.


Near the top of the gully there are a couple more snow patches which are completely avoidable. Shortly thereafter you climb out onto the ridge on the left to finish the summit.

We arrived at the summit around 8AM, and didn’t loiter long before turning around given the number of teams we had seen headed up behind us. It seems everyone got lucky that day as the groups were well spaced and able to navigate around each other without much delay. This group turned out to be strong scramblers and down climbed all the way to the snow field (wow!!), which we rappelled with two 40m glacier ropes (any shorter and you would be getting off rope in the snow). We absolutely roasted on the way back to camp, arriving at around 1PM (with some delays for a thankfully minor crampon to the leg). We packed up and left camp at 2PM and arrived back to the trailhead at 5PM for a 15 hour day and enjoyed immensely satisfying tacos/quesadillas/burritos at Tacos Tecalitlan in Burlington.

Thanks to a wonderful group for an amazing weekend in the mountains and congratulations on a successful summit!