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Trip Report    

Mount Shuksan/Sulphide Glacier

On Friday (May 6) after work we packed and left around 8pm. After stuffing ourselves at Taqueria Los Jarritos in Burlington (becoming a tradition now), we registered at the Sedro-Wooley ranger station and got to the Shannon Ridge TH around 11:00pm. After not sleeping very much in the back of the Subaru, we started hiking around 1:30am under a starry sky. The trail was easy to follow; there is one really wet section right away that soaked my trail runners but I left them on the shoe tree (6 other pairs of shoes) when the snow started anyway (~3500') and switched to the new boots. Hiking from 4000' to the ridge was a bit of a mess trying to find the unmarked trail, but following ski tracks was the easiest and there were no major obstacles. We followed the ridge and up to the pass on soft but not slush snow, where it became more firm and easier to walk on once up on the glacier. There was one small crevasse we stepped over somewhere around 5000', and we made it to "camp" (6500') at 5:20am where we watched one party of 2 on the slope above us as we ate breakfast (caffeinated GUs), put on harnesses and rope (not really necessary?). We started again with sunrise 30 minutes later, making our way up firmer but punchier snow, although following in recent footsteps helped an enormous amount (until our friends ahead switched to skiing). We got onto the pyramid on the right side, unroped and put on crampons on the path that traversed across to the main gully, and worked our way up solid snow that was nice for tools (in shade) and softer snow which was less comforting (in sun) higher up. The last bit to exit the gully was fairly steep (I heard 60*), but we got there just as the party above us was leaving the summit on their way down. We spent enough time on the summit to eat, put on sunscreen, and take a few photos, but it was gorgeous- blue skies and no wind (around 9:30am). Downclimbing the softer snow was not the most enjoyable, and there were 3 or 4 other groups climbing up who had skied in while we were on the pyramid. Back at the base of the pyramid, the snow was super soft, and we plunge-stepped up to our calves to the Hourglass. The descent made me wish I knew how to ski... it was a lot of trudging through soft snow under a merciless sun. We each carried only 2L of water so were fairly dehydrated by the time we got back to the cars. It was a gorgeous day though, and we glissaded when we could, moved through piles of avalanche debris and set off many large rollers, got off track on the descent through the woods until we found the trail, and marveled at how many tiny frogs of various colors there were on the lower trail as we made our way back to the car. The last mile we were like zombies, but a swim in a chilly but scenic and sunny Baker Lake reinvigorated us for the drive home. Car to car just under 15 hours, including multiple stops to adjust gear and clean out snow from gaiters... and not really sleeping. Note: Sedro Wooley's Wooley Market now has an outdoor gear shop upstairs for last minute forgotten items.

 

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