Mount Shuksan (9,127’) is an immense and aesthetically magnificent mountain, arguably the most iconic in the North Cascades. It stands as one of the finest mountaineering objectives in the range, requiring a variety of alpine climbing techniques to reach its airy summit. This four-day instructional course/summit climb is an excellent choice for climbers who enjoyed their 3-Day Baker or 3-Day Muir climb and are interested in tackling more a technically challenging objective. Basic snow and glacier climbing skills lead the climber across the mighty Sulfide Glacier until the exciting rock summit pyramid. Depending on the time of year, the route to the summit is usually a fun mix of snow climbing, easy rock scrambling, and plentiful ledges. The truly memorable summit rewards climbers with stunning views of Mt. Baker and the surrounding peaks of the North Cascades.
With a 2:1 climber-to-guide ratio, we offer a personal experience and hands-on training with an experienced guide team. This climb will teach climbers some the basics of glacier mountaineering, including self-arrest training, cramponing, and roped team travel. Additionally, as the final climb to Mount Shuksan’s spectacular summit is on rock, we will spend a whole day at beautiful Mount Erie learning belaying, rappelling, knots, rope management and rock climbing movement prior to heading to the mountain. Successful completion of this program gives you the required skills for some of our more advanced expeditions.
Maximum team size: Six climbers with three guides.
We’ll meet at 6:30am at the Alpine Ascents Seattle office and start with a gear check. A thorough gear check ensures everyone is fully equipped and prepared for the course. Rental gear is fitted and packed at this time.
From the office, we will drive to Mt. Erie to learn the basics of rock climbing in a spectacular setting. The climbing areas on Mt. Erie overlook the Puget Sound, with panoramic views of the San Juan Islands, the Olympics, and several of the Cascade volcanoes. Students will learn belaying, rappelling, lowering, descending, rope management and climbing techniques. Plan to spend several hours practicing movement skills and working on technical skills that will be used on the summit pyramid of Mount Shuksan. In the evening we will set up camp at a campground near our approach trailhead.
During the gear check, we will review the functionality of each piece of gear, packing our backpacks, wilderness ethics and LNT principles. In the field, we will cover climbing movement, belaying, rappelling, lowering, descending, and rope management.
The group will pack up and ready themselves for the approach to the mountain. From the trailhead (approximately 2500 ft. elevation) climbers will make their way up the trail to Shannon Ridge at approximately 4600 feet. After another 2 miles along a flat crest through patches of timber and meadows, the crest leads to a sloping mountainside. Teams can choose to make camp here (approximately 5400 ft. elevation) or continue hiking an additional 1,000ft for more camping opportunities at the edge of the Sulfide Glacier.
Instruction includes nutrition, hydration, rest steps, pressure breathing, and temperature management. Camp set-up, cooking in the mountains and in depth Leave No Trace will be discussed. During rest periods we will have short discussions on mountain physiology and mountain environments.
Climbers will spend the day learning and refreshing mountain travel techniques including cramponing, rope travel, self-arrest, and other techniques necessary to make a summit attempt the next day. With spectacular views of the North Cascades from camp, this is sure to be a memorable, informative, and relatively restful day in preparation for the summit bid!
Alternatively, if weather or route conditions require a Day 3 summit bid, we will begin our trip to the summit in the early morning hours (see Day 4 for more details), having trained in all necessary skills on the evening of Day 2.
Discuss safety aspects of our climb, rope management, knots, anchors, crampon technique, self-arrest and glacier travel. Afternoon topics might include local history, glaciology, mountain weather, along with map and compass.
Summit day! To ensure safety and optimum traveling conditions, we begin with an early morning wake-up to bring us close to the summit by sunrise. We will cross the gentle Sulphide Glacier until we reach the exciting crux of our route, the 700-foot rock summit pyramid. This is where we will begin belayed and pitched climbing up the steep central gully. Depending on the time of year, the gully is usually a fun mix of snow climbing, easy rock, and plentiful ledges. From the summit, climbers will be rewarded with stunning views of Mt. Baker and the surrounding peaks of the North Cascades.
After celebrating this truly memorable summit and taking photos, we’ll carefully descend the summit pyramid via a series of lowers, rappels, and down climbing until we reach the easier terrain of the Sulphide Glacier. Once we reach our camp, we’ll pack up and descend back to the trailhead.
This day allows us to implement and enforce what we have learned in the previous days.
Itinerary subject to change due to conditions.
- Climb itinerary
- Breakfasts and dinners on the mountain
- Transportation to and from the trailhead
- Guide fees
- Park fees
- Group equipment such as ropes, stoves, tents, snow and ice protection etc.
- Human waste disposal bags
- Cotton Alpine Ascents T-shirt
- Forest service parking pass
- Lunches and personal gear (see equipment list)
- Transportation to/from Seattle, Washington
- Transfers between airport and Seattle office
- Hotels/lodging in Seattle.
(We have a preferred arrangement with the Marqueen Hotel, 1 block from our office)
- All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (evac fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc)
- Trip cancellation insurance
Note: Alpine Ascents International highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all programs. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
- Full refunds, less the nonrefundable registration fee, will be provided for cancellations made 120-days prior to the climb start date.
- 50% refunds, less the nonrefundable registration fee, will be provided for cancellations made 90-119 days prior to the climb start date.
- No refunds will be provided for cancellations made 89-days prior to the climb start date.
- Alpine Ascents International will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible.
- All cancellation/refund requests must be made in writing and be received in our office within the deadlines stated above.