Mt. Shuksan (9,127') has become an iconic mountain for climbers in the northwest with its rugged beauty, central location in the North Cascades, and rich mountaineering history. Our guides find it to be one of the most enjoyable ascents in Washington and are always eager to introduce climbers to Mt. Shuksan's charms.
The climbing is moderate in nature but you can count on feeling the wind beneath your feet as you ascend the final rock and snow pyramid to the summit. We lead this route at a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio ensuring that you receive a high degree of hands-on instruction prior to the climb and also have a small, efficient rope team during the summit ascent. Our cramponing, ice axe and rope travel skills training for this climb takes place right outside our tent door on the Sulphide Glacier.
This climb is well suited for the beginning climber who wants to learn basic climbing skills and experience a classic summit, or the more experienced mountaineer who has not yet ticked this northwest icon.
Day 1 - ORIENTATION AND HIKE TO BASE CAMP • 6,000' | 1,829M
7:00 a.m Meet at Sedro-Woolley Ranger Station.
The group meets at the Sedro-Woolley Ranger Station in the North Cascades. Please see our Travel Details document for driving directions and carpool opportunities. Your RMI guides will meet you at the ranger station for introductions, registration for the climb, group gear distribution and personal gear check.
We then drive to the Mt. Shuksan Trailhead, approx. 2,500', to begin our hike to high camp. For most people this will be the most physically demanding day of the trip as we ascend slowly to an elevation of 6,000' with 45-50 lb packs.
As we move up towards camp we review the foundational skills that make us more efficient and capable climbers. After setting up a solid mountain camp, we are free to relax for the evening.
Day 2 - MOUNTAINEERING DAY SCHOOL • 6,000' | 1,829M
After breakfast we head out onto the glacier to begin our training. Our Mountaineering Day School offers participants an overview of various techniques which meet the challenges set forth by Mt. Shuksan. We practice basic mountaineering skills including; efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing), various safety practices including use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers, cramponing, climbing in balance, proper use of our ice axe, self and team arrest, moderate cramponing, movement on rock, short roping and lowering techniques for rock.
Our first priority is the safety of all team members. During the School you will be asked to demonstrate that your fitness will allow you to climb safely, and that you are able to perform the new climbing skills proficiently. We will continue to assess each team member throughout the course of the training and the climb.
After the day of skills training we return to camp where we make our final summit preparations, enjoy dinner, and go to bed early for the next day's climb.
Day 3 - SUMMIT DAY (9,131' | 2,783M) • 6,000' | 1,829M
The summit ascent - Our day begins with a pre-dawn alpine start to give us ample time for this full day of climbing. The Sulphide Glacier is a fun, moderate climb on which we employ our cramponing, route finding and navigational skills, as we make our way around crevasses to the summit pyramid. On our ascent, we climb steadily for one to two hours at a stretch, and then break for 10 to 15 minutes.
The 600 feet of climbing on the summit pyramid constitutes the crux of the climb. Kicking steps and using ice axes for balance, we move up steep snow and make some belayed moves on the 4th and 5th class rock. From the top, we can look north into Canada and south towards Mt. Rainier.
After spending some time on top to enjoy the views and take photos, we begin our descent. We descend the South Face via rappels and belayed down-climbing, then descend the Sulphide Glacier back to camp. Our descent takes about half the time of the ascent, and also requires significant effort.
Day 4 - DESCENT TO TRAILHEAD • 56' | 17M
On our last morning we rise early for breakfast, break camp and take three to four hours for the hike back down to the trailhead. The trip concludes with a celebratory lunch in Sedro-Woolley. Those with a plane to catch should plan for an arrival in Seattle around mid-afternoon. Guide has not registered or claimed this expedition.