Monday, September 6, 2010

Mt. Shuksan, Sulfide + SE Corner - Trip Report August 27-28, 2010

Rodrigo came out from Chicago to check out some of our fine alpine climbing in the North Cascades. Our fine alpine weather was also present in force so we decided on a quick two day on Mt. Shuksan. We went in via the Sulfide Glacier and took the SE Corner of the summit pyramid to add some 500 of alpine rock climbing right to the summit.

Hiking the misty Shannon Ridge trail. Awesome views.

We left the car in a light drizzle but as we got higher the clouds broke a bit and the wind helped to dry us out. We came into camp with snowflakes blowing by. From the weather radio we knew the cities to the west had clearing skies. We tried to stay optimistic as we bedded down with rain drops pattering the tent.

Sulfide Camp, 6200'.

One last weather check revealed a clear sky and the final clouds lingered among the rocky ridges. The clear sky would make for a good freeze, but a quick softening in the sun so we planned an 0-dark:30 start to make efficient travel on the glacier.

View of the summit (cloaked in clouds) across the lower Sulfide and Crystal Glaciers at dusk.

The dawn was picture perfect, but chilly. The weather of the last few days had dropped up to 8 inches of new snow on the glacier. This covered all the sun cups and dirty snow making for a winter-like scene. We made good time across the low angle Sulfide Glacier and aimed for the steep summit.

Dawn on the Sulfide Glacier.

Rodrigo with Mount Baker and the shadow of Shuksan behind.

The rock had snow on the ledges and holds, but was featured enough to make for fun climbing. We kept our crampons on and made our way up the often exposed SE Corner. Good ledges are linked by short steep sections of fun climbing. Although technically easy, climbing it in gloves, crampons and lots of air beneath your seat keeps things interesting.

High on the SE Corner of Shuksan summit pyramid.

Rodrigo on the summit of Mt. Shuksan.

We descended the standard gully route with its normal loose rock and down climbing. We had the mountain to ourselves and were very happy about that at this point. Clouds were beginning to build so we motored down the glacier and back to camp.

Looking back at the summit. The SE Corner takes the topmost right skyline.

The next weather system was making its way into the mountains as predicted. Our window was closing and it was time to get off the hill. We made it out without suffering any further precipitation and headed east looking for the sun...

Mt. Baker gathering clouds.