Mount Shuksan, Elevation 9,127ft

November 12-13, 2000

2 days

Josh, Ben, Jason

Author: Josh Hummel

The summit pyramid of Shuksan seen from our highpoint.

 

I was a little worried about going climbing this weekend because I had a test coming up Monday. I had not studied a wink but somehow convinced myself that I could learn what I needed Sunday night and the following morning. Only time would tell.

The weather was not the best but that didnít matter because we were up there to have fun. We hoped conditions would improve the following day. We were able to drive all the way to the trialhead but ended up post-holing most of the trail.

 

Jason hiking in the saddle.

 

We had camped at the saddle three times. This time we wanted to camp higher up for not only the view, but also for the superior skiing. The hike thus far had not been that strenuous so we continued on. We would not be disappointed.

 

Jason hiking above the saddle.

 

Jason and I below the rock outcrop.

 

Jason at the base of the Sulfide.

 

The snow began to deepen to our delight. The way was made much easier and faster once we had our skins on. There where some steep hills to battle, but we were able to switchback up them with little additional effort.

 

Jason eyeing the Sulfide.

 

We had hoped to camp on the knife ridge to the west of us. It lay just to the other side of a large outcrop of rock. That idea was abandoned for an even higher campsite. We skirted the ridge until we topped out and there we found what we had been searching for. The perfect spot.

In no time we had camp set up. That left the rest of the day to ourselves to do with as we wished. We all did some skiing. Jason and I more than Ben, who wanted to rest a bit and admire the view. Maybe just to study the light, the shadow, and the lay of the land for his next artistic shot. He hoped to bring to life what we saw and felt at that very moment.

 

Our camp on top of the west face.

 

We whittled away the twilight hours by doing some night skiing and filming. Ben and Jason discovered the crapper. They pestered me and the crapper (which wouldnít open) for hours on end while testing the night shot on our Sony camcorder. It was an excellent spot that one could never become bored with.

Throughout the evening the temperature rested around 10 degrees. Ben was using his down bag for the first time but Jason and had to resort to our cheap synthetic bags.

 

A view to remember. Baker Lake is in the background.

 

Our camp commanded a spectacular view. Baker encompassed a large portion of the horizon, while to the north the pyramid of Shuksan kept a watchful eye. Some hours later we finally went to bed.

 

The sunrise.

 

The sun rose like clockwork. We were soon packed. Usually time would not be a problem but my brother and I had to get back home to study for an important test Monday. The extra time ended up not helping much. My grade later recovered, but the weekend was well worth a few percent in the wrong direction.

 

An effort to avoid crevasses.

 

The ice beneath the snow gave little purchase. Ben even left some blood scattered about in his effort not to fall. We ended up taking this route in order to avoid the many hidden crevasses buried by the recent snowfall. It was a bit out of the way, but the benefits we felt far outweighed the downfalls.

 

Jason traversing a ridge above the Sulfide.

 

The uneven terrain of our route made skins useless, which made our time up the Sulfide awkward and slow. Once we were on the upper slopes the going became smother and skins more efficient.

 

A time to switch to skins and rest.

 

After putting on skins we had to wind around several crevasses. They were easily seen and so did not create much difficulty. A few attracted our attention. I decided to cross one snowbridge with my skis in order to get a closer look. The crevasse was deep. Itís walls were rigged like the jaws of a great shark; sharp and ominous. A depthless hole that one should tend to avoid.

 

One of the crevasses we had to navigate around.

 

Somewhere along the way we had come to a decision not to summit. Whether it was due to school, conditions on the pyramid, or time. I do not recall. We could not quit on such a beautiful day without climbing something so we ended up summiting a small peak just below the pyramid. I did not feel content with just skiing off the small peak. I wanted to do something more challenging and dangerous. I needed a jump.

 

Josh jumping off a peak below the summit pyramid.

 

When we got back to camp there were three people just a stones throw from our tents. After dropping our packs we went over and made some conversation while one of them took off to make some turns on the upper slopes. He ended up taking a more direct route than we took and about midway up the first hill he turned around due to avalanche and crevasse danger. I didnít blame him. I later learned two of there names when we met again at the REI in Bellingham. They introduced themselves as Ingrid and Kevin. Jason gave them our number and we left. In mid-January they gave us a call and said they were going to climb Baker. Kevin, Jason, and I had a wonderful one-day climb and ski descent of the Coleman/Deming.

 

Jason on his way out.

 

We left camp around 2pm. The snow was good so the skiing took little effort. The lower slopes were a little hard on the skis due to the limited base but the hike out went quickly. At home I could hardly concentrate on studying. The only thing I could remember was the feeling of the powder sweeping by my legs, the glare of the sun in my eyes, and the chill of the wind upon my face. How could one study with such thoughts and such sights plaguing the mind?

 

 

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