Glacier Peak, Elevation 10,541ft
Ben, Charlie, Josh, Jason
This is the best photo that I have of the mountain. We skied the upper portion of the right skyline. This photo was taken from Dome Peak, several miles north of Glacier Peak.
This trip wasn't easy to arrange but it was something new so we figured it was worth the effort. We planned to meet at my dorm on the UW campus. Charlie drove over from Yakima and the Hummels came up from Morton. They were both a little late. Charlie ended up driving the rest of the way. We got to the trailhead around 4pm.
It's nearly ten miles to basecamp so we were a little behind schedule. We strapped the skis and boots on our packs and took off up the trail in tennis shoes. The first six miles is mostly flat. This led us to Kennedy Hot Springs where we took a wrong turn and got lost. It's a good idea to bring a map when you're not sure where you're going. This was our first time up here so we ended up asking for directions.
The correct trail led us up several switchbacks before flattening out again. We finally hit the climbers path that shoots straight up a steep forested slope. We climbed that until we reached timberline -- the first views of the day. It was around 8pm and the sun was beginning to set. Several minutes of wandering led us to Boulder Basin where we planned to camp. Most of the good sites were taken but we eventually found a couple that was willing to share part of theirs. They recognized the Hummels. They were friends of their dad or something like that.
Finally reaching timberline just before sunset.
The Hummels talked while Charlie and I set up our bivy sacks. It was dark and cold before the Hummels finally decided to set up their tent. We had a late dinner and went to bed around 10pm. The upper mountain was hidden. There wasn't much snow so we began to question whether it was worth bringing our skis. The people who climbed it that day assured us that it was.
We woke up at sunrise the next morning. We weren't in too big of hurry because we knew it would take awhile for the sun to soften the west facing slopes that we would be climbing and skiing. There were only a few others climbing that day. Most groups had three days to work with -- a day for the approach, a day to climb and a day to descend. This was their day to descend.
Getting ready to climb from our camp in Boulder Basin.
We were hiking by 8am. All of us wore our ski boots because it looked like we would be on snow most of the way. We rounded the slope above camp and got our first look at the mountain. The top didn't look too far. We spent most of our time glancing at the surrounding peaks. It was a beautiful day to climb and an even better day to ski. The snow was fairly smooth and there was plenty of it. The weather was perfect.
Jason, Charlie and Josh climbing the lower slopes above camp. Mount Baker is seen in the background.
Jason and I made it to the summit ridge where more views opened up. We waited there for Josh and Charlie before continuing up the ridge. There was a path up the scree but it was loose and dirty. We chose to stay on the snow next to it. The snow was still firm and none of us had crampons so we had to be careful not to slip.
Jason on the summit ridge.
Charlie on the snow next to the summit ridge.
We eventually stepped back to the rock on the south side of the summit and traversed to a steep snow chute that led to the top. It took us 3 hours from camp. The views were incredible. We could see from Oregon to British Columbia and every mountain in-between. The rocks were warm and we had plenty of time to chill and enjoy the views. We found the summit register and signed in.
Josh, Jason and Charlie chilling on top.
We weren't sure how we would ski down but we eventually decided to ski off the north side and traverse back to the Sitkum Glacier just below the summit. That looked like it would give us the most skiing and least walking. The Hummels skied a figure 8 but it didn't amount to much on the firm snow. We eventually broke loose and met up to cross the summit ridge.
Jason and Josh skiing off the top.
Jason and I did a little extra traversing to reach a narrow chute that proved to be an excellent ski. We met up with Josh and Charlie at the top of the Sitkum Glacier.
Jason turning in the chute above the Sitkum Glacier.
We skied the steep upper slope for about 1000 vertical feet before it flattened out above a heavily crevassed section. There was another steep slope to the south of us that we decided to check out. We ended up hiking to the top of it for some very steep turns. The snow had softened up so we felt pretty comfortable despite the exposure. There were some crevasses below us that we had to watch out for. Josh got a bird's eye view of a few of them.
Jason skiing the steeps on the south side of the Sitkum Glacier.
Josh getting a bird's eye view of a crevasse.
The skiing was excellent all the way to camp. Most of the people were gone by the time we got back. We still had 10 miles to hike back to our car. We packed up slowly to enjoy the last bits of sunlight before disappearing into the forested hills below.
The hike out seemed longer than the approach. I began to question whether it was worth carrying skis. I got the photos back a few days later and they assured me that it was. I'll definitely be back.