For scheduled courses and climbs, you should fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac). You are responsible for your transportation to downtown Seattle. You will meet as a group with your guide(s) early morning on Day 1 for an orientation meeting and equipment check.
Mount Shuksan Sulphide Glacier Day by Day
We drive from Seattle to the trailhead (2,500 ft / 762 m). The hike to base camp involves 2,900 feet / 884 meters of elevation gain and takes 5 – 7 hours. We start out in dense forest then pass through alpine meadows and clusters of Mountain Hemlock before climbing to a saddle with beautiful views of Mount Baker and the Picket Range. Another hour of hiking up glacially-scoured slopes and we arrive at our camp, which is situated at the edge of the Sulphide Glacier (5,400 ft / 1646 m). We dedicated the afternoon toward learning the skills necessary to confidently ascend Mount Shuksan. The training starts with a snow school where you learn how to use your ice axe for moving in balance and for self-arrest. After learning some knots and rope handling skills, we introduce roped glacier travel, discuss glaciology and traveling as a roped team. We finish this day with a large meal and make final preparations for the following morning’s summit attempt.
This is a long day and begins with a pre-dawn start – usually between 2 – 3 am Several hours of cramponing up the gentle Sulphide Glacier bring us to a crevassed zone at the base of the 700-foot / 213-meter summit pyramid. We’ll navigate this and then start belayed and pitched climbing up the steep central gully. Depending on the season and time of year, this is usually a nice mixture of snow climbing, easy rock, and ledges. Shuksan’s summit is classically small! From here you will have views of the complex glaciers beneath us as well as the surrounding peaks of the North Cascades. We’ll then descend the climbing route via a series of lowers, rappels and down climbing. Once back on the glacier, camp is reached quickly were you enjoy a celebratory meal and some well needed rest.
After a relaxing breakfast, we’ll break camp, and head down to the trailhead. Plan on being back in Seattle around 6 – 7 pm. Depending on the weather conditions, your group may decide to climb on the third day of the itinerary. This contingent makes for a long day making your arrival time in Seattle later in the evening, often 9 – 10 pm.
Note on Itinerary: Although we do our very best to follow the schedule listed, the very nature of climbing in an alpine environment requires flexibility. This itinerary is subject to change due to inclement weather, unsafe route conditions, and other reasons beyond our control.