Mount Shuksan, Elevation 9,127ft
Ben, Troy, Josh, Jason
The summit pyramid of Mount Shuksan. Our ascent is in green and our ski descent is in red.
The Sulfide Glacier is definitely the easiest way to climb Mount Shuksan. We were about to realize this after several years of failed winter attempts. Spring is the ideal time to climb this route because the road melts out early and if you time it right you can ski all the way down to your car. We weren't quite this lucky.
Troy and I met up with the Hummels and we drove to within 2 miles of the trailhead. The weather was marginal but it was supposed to be improving. We hiked for several hours until we reached Shannon Ridge. The rain had changed to snow somewhere in-between and now the sky was beginning to clear. We stopped here to regroup, put on some warm clothes and grab a bite to eat.
Clearing skies on Shannon Ridge.
There were several parties ahead of us so we didn't have to break trail. We ended up passing most of them so we could get first dibs on camp. We continued to the saddle where we found an excellent camp. There are some camps near the base of the Sulfide Glacier but we didn't feel the need to carry our overnight gear the extra 1,000 vertical feet. It would be better to climb and ski that section with a light pack the next day. We spent several hours moving snow and getting settled. It took a little ingenuity but it was well worth the effort.
Troy and Jason checking the view from our front door.
Camp above the saddle.
We still had plenty of daylight so we decided to go for a ski. We didn't have to go too far to find some steep slopes with excellent snow. There was probably a foot or two of fresh powder in the shade. We ended up skiing the east face of a steep ridge above our camp. The climb was knarly with lots of exposure. The cornices were huge.
Jason and Troy resting near the edge of a very largecornice. We skied the east face beneath it.
We traversed back to camp and made a few more runs on the south face above it. The snow wasn't as good but there were some cool jumps. The ridge was pretty tracked out by the time we were finished.
Josh takes some air above camp.
It was getting dark by the time we finished dinner. We witnessed a spectacular sunset over Mount Baker before heading to bed. The clouds were gone and we looked forward to an even more spectacular sunrise the next morning. We planned to be climbing by 7am because we weren't sure how long it would take to summit. I was more concerned about the ski.
Sunset over Mount Baker.