Mount Shuksan, Elevation 9,127ft
October, 26, 2002
Ben, Jason, Josh, Mary
Josh repacking his skis below the summit pyramid.
The phone rings at 3:55am. Before I reached for the receiver, I knew who would be on the other end. "You should climb Shuksan," Ben offered. Peering outside to another of a long line of blue-sky days being born, I knew what my answer would be. My only concern was how much longer could I sleep? Of course, Ben not masking his scorn said, "Sleep is for pusses!"
Summarily enlightened I said, "We'll meet you at the Texaco off Cook Road at 6:30AM." Josh and I jump in the Ford Expired at 5am.
I tried to sleep while Josh barreled down the freeway. What sleep I mustered only made me more tired. I gave up and began giving Josh directions on how to drive. The more I instructed the faster he went. Before long we were at the Park and Ride across from the Texaco. Ben was already there along with Mary who had decided to join us for the trip. We all piled into Benís Truck, gear in the back, shades and breakfast to the front. Another hour passes before we arrived at the trailhead. Ben drove to where two guys were packing. Josh noticed one of them, so he cracked the window and bellowed, "GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE!" It was Bill Frans who we had spent a few days at Mount Maude with.
We hastily packed beneath a steadily brightening day. Before long we were off. The trail followed an old logging road grade for about a mile and a half before the trail steepened on its way to the saddle. At the saddle, resting seemed in order along with a moment to appreciate the view.
Low clouds covering Baker Lake.
Jason climbing a tree below the saddle.
Mount Baker from the saddle.
From the saddle, snow could be seen up around the bend. Mary decided to fall behind and enjoy the present. The rest of us were attracted to the snow laden slopes so we moved ahead with haste.
Josh and Jason looking forward to the ski.
Tennis shoes were useless at around 6500 feet so ski boots were donned. Hard snow and wide-open cracks led us to the base of the pyramid where Bill and a friend were resting. We switched back to tennis shoes there and left everything else behind.
On the pyramid, we each found our own way up. Josh went too far left and ended up on the ridge for most of the way, Ben hit the gully system just about right, and I hit the easiest route on the money, which is up the center, left gully. The top was reached in no time. We signed the register, talked about our previous ski descents down the pyramid, and tried to capture the view. I felt like I was peering through a looking glass attempting to see a sunset.
Josh, Jason, Bill and friend on the summit.
Ben on the summit looking east.
Downclimbing the summit pyramid.
The ski involved a lot of knee cringing bump ridden turns on ice, but here and there a sweet spot would present itself for a friendly carve. We spent most of our time looking for photos. Josh had to climb out of one broken up mess because I said there might be a route through the cracks. There wasnít, not even close. He needed the extra workout anyway. Ben and I were left to wait further down the mountain.
Josh heading for a dead end.
Jason finding the goods.
Josh cruising the flats.
The remainder of the ski never improved.
At the saddle we met up with Mary who was enjoying the sunset. Since dusk was quickly covering the land, we sped the last few miles to the car.
We couldnít have asked for a better ski considering the time of the year. A little lost sleep and worn muscles felt cheap compared to what we walked away with. Of course, when itís this good planning for the following weekend was easy.