Trip Report    

Glacier Climb - Whitehorse Mountain/Northwest Shoulder

Short weather/avy window for this one, but well worth trying. Absolutely stunning views!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • See trip report




Our group of 7 met at the parking area for the Whitehorse Trail at 11:30am on a sunny day and where the weather forecast for the next day (our summit day) was to be partly sunny.  We made introductions, ate a quick lunch, distributed gear and started down the closed road around noon, hiking less than 1.5 miles to the actual trailhead at elevation 900'.

The first part of the trail was easy with many switchbacks and only a few logs to crawl over.  Soon the trail was more rough and we looked for pink or red flagging  to help us stay on trail.  We were lucky to have Tom G join our group since he had made his way to Lone Tree Pass the last year so he led the way.  Around 2800' we filtered some water and got on continuous snow.  At 3100' we ditched our snowshoes thinking the snow was firm enough not to need them, something we regretted later.

We crossed in pairs as quickly as possible as we entered the avy prone slopes that led to Lone  Tree Pass.  Tom, Alex and Dan took turns kicking steps all the way to the pass.  From there we followed the ridge for about 3/4 mile to our lovely campsite  at 4900' where we had a good view of Whitehorse Glacier.  It took us about 5.5hr to reach our campsite which was right on schedule,  We settled in and decided for a 5:15am departure time the next day.

We were in the clouds the next morning with the moon trying to break through.  One participant decided to stay at camp while the rest of were off and going at 5:15am.  We descended SE losing a couple hundred feet in order to avoid the cliffs on the ridge we were camped at.  Then a rising traverse across more avy slopes, aiming towards a no name pinnnacle at the base of High Pass.

As we traversed, the clouds started to dissipate and lift and the pinnacle and 3 Fingers came into view.  We all wished we had brought our snowshoes as the snow had not firmed up overnight to need crampons.  Not sure travel would have been faster, but surely easier, esp for the 3 trailbreakers working hard at it.  

The sun shone brightly by the time we reached High Pass and our view of the summit block was stunning.  A friend's friend had provided a photo of the moat he had taken the Sat before.  It was just a step across then and it looked pretty benign from where we sat at the pass taking a break.

Soon we put our harness and crampons on and followed Tom as he led the way to the base of the summit block.   When we were about 30' from the moat (about 9:15am) I asked Tom and Andy to check on the moat since they were the most experienced.  I think all our hearts sank when they said it was wide open and a no go.  How could that be in just a week?   As we watched, they moved climber's right to see if there was any other way.  After some time, they called for us to join them as they found a possibility.

Someone would climb to the ridge to the right of the summit and then traverse the short distance on the ridge to the summit.  Tom made an attempt but decided to back off.  Andy, with 2 ice axes and loaded with 4 pickets started up.  Thankfully he was able to lead the short, but icy pitch to the ridge and summit.  A fixed line was set up for all to prusik one by one.  

Getting this set up and having each prusik up and down was time consuming,  I, being the second up was on the summit at 11:30am.  But it was well worth it!  I think everyone, after climbing 7000' was so relieved to have made it.  The views absolutely stunning.  It was all our first time up there except for Andy who was up there 25 years ago in Feb.  A 25th anniversary for him, but first time having his photo taken on the summit.

The descent was uneventful.  Back at our campsite at 3:15pm.  Packed up and departed at 3:45pm and back at our cars about 3.5 hrs after that.

What a great group!  Everyone contributed and was a delight to be with on this memorable and well earned climb.28042911698_4efa5da4b4_o.jpg






Add a comment

Log in to add comments.
Sherrie Trecker
Sherrie Trecker says:
May 06, 2018 10:19 AM

Congrats, all! It was great to see you, and thank you again for the amazing boot path. It made the next day's ascent easy compared to what you went through.

Beth Morrigan
Beth Morrigan says:
May 08, 2018 08:08 PM

Great trip report, Sue! It really captured the essence of the trip, the challenges and the successes.