Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb


A view of Mt. Shuksan from Picture Lake.

A view of Mt. Shuksan from Picture Lake. Mitchell Harter

Mount Shuksan is one of the most beautiful mountains on the planet. The peak presents all of the most spectacular features that an alpine environment can offer - steep walls, hanging glaciers, heathered arms, and alpine tarns. Climbers from around the world look at this striking non-volcanic peak and say one thing, "I have to climb that!"

Mount Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains in the world, and for a very good reason. The mountain is complex. Mount Shuksan is comprised of seven glaciers, four major faces and five dramatic ridges. Awe-inspiring icefalls and ice cliffs tower above open rock cliffbands, while blue-tinted glaciers snake down between each of the major ridgelines. This is an utterly spectacular mountain.

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Sulphide Route Description

Sulphide Glacier Route 

Ascending the summit pyramid, looking back at the Sulphide glacier.

Ascending the summit pyramid, looking back at the Sulphide glacier. Joseph Anderson.

The Sulphide Glacier offers an ascent within the grasp of most climbers, but this is no "tourist route." Different climbing problems must be overcome at different periods during the season, and there are always a variety of challenge on both rock and ice.

There are two options for this climb, a four-day and a three-day option. 

The first option is a four-day program with a rock climbing day at the beginning. After spending a day at the crag, those on this program will make the approach to the mountain on the second day. Those who have limited rock climbing experience should consider this option to polish their climbing skills before getting onto this spectacular mountain. 

The second option is a three-day program. In this program, students with previous rock climbing experience will approach the mountain on the first day.

On this spectacular climb, our approach will take us to a beautiful camp at the foot of the glacier where we will review skills. On the second backcountry day, we will get up early and make our way up to the summit. The summit day on this particular mountain requires one to ascend a moderate glacier to stunning summit pyramid. Depending on the time of year, the summit may be ascended via a short steep snow couloir or by a low-fifth class rock scrambling. On the final day, we will make our way out to the trailhead.

Though the mountain is imposing, beginner and intermediate climbers often climb the Sulphide Glacier route. On our skills day, we will review the basics of glacier travel and self-arrest, and introduce the skills of route finding and hazard evaluation. For those climbers who have previous glacier experience, we will use the skills time to review and advance the techniques that you employ in glacier climbing self-rescue.

The Sulphide Glacier can be climbed on one of our group programs, or as a private ascent. Contact the AAI office for more information on private programming.

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Fisher Chimneys & North Face

For climbers with an intermediate to advanced level of skill, we can schedule privately guided climbs of more technical routes on Mount Shuksan. Here are two classics:

Fisher Chimneys (Grade III, 5.2, 50 Degree Snow/Ice, 3 Days)

Situated near the awesome hanging ice of the Curtis Glacier, the Fisher Chimneys route is a full value climb. The line has a significant amount of third and fourth-class terrain, glacier travel, and steep snow and ice climbing. The ascent requires one to dig deeply into the mountaineer's toolkit to pull out the skills required to climb this multi-faceted route.

The climb can easily be broken into a series of sections, each with their own difficulty. The first part is the ascent of the third and fourth class Chimneys. This is followed by glacier travel on steep terrain through broken sections and then finally an ascent up the rock pyramid to the tiny but scenic summit.

The Fisher Chimneys route is an excellent step up from a straight alpine rock climb or a straight glacier climb. It is an intermediate route that will provide a significant challenge to those who are ready to advance to the next level of climbing.

North Face (Grade IV, 5.2, 55 Degree Snow/Ice, Summit Carry-Over, 3 Days)

A view from Mt. Baker of Mt. Shuksan and the Sulphide glacier peeking through the dense clouds

A view from Mt. Baker of Mt. Shuksan and the Sulphide glacier peeking through the dense clouds. Ruth Hennings

The North Face of Mount Shuksan is a classic steep alpine objective. This intermediate to advanced level climb is almost on par with an Alaskan experience. Climbers are required to carry all of their equipment and gear up and over the mountain. Such a "mini-expedition" provides an excellent training objective to prepare for the steep north faces throughout the great ranges of the world.

The North Face of Shuksan is classic in another way too. Those who choose to take it on experience the heart of Cascade adventure climbing. The approach requires a bit of bushwacking, the route requires a bit of steep snow and ice climbing and the descent requires significant fortitude. This is a big climb that is both physically and technically demanding. Success on such a grand route doesn't come easily, but when it comes the reward is that much greater.

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Dates & Details

Sulphide Glacier Climbs

  • May 17 - May 19, 2019
  • May 31 - Jun 02, 2019
  • Jun 29 - Jul 01, 2019
  • Jul 12 - Jul 14, 2019
  • Jul 26 - Jul 28, 2019 
  • Aug 9 - Aug 11, 2019
  • Aug 23 - Aug 25, 2019
  • Sep 13 - Sep 15, 2019


Cost - $825/ climber (minimum of 2 participants)

Max Ratio (Climber:Guide) - 3:1 

Capacity - 6


  • Backpacking experience
  • Multi-pitch alpine rock climbing experience
  • Rappelling experience
  • Good physical condition


Private Course Options

The dates listed above are open to the general public for climbs of the Sulphide Glacier.  In addition to the dates published above for this climb, we can also  set-up additional dates for groups or individuals as they are requested. Reservations for these climbs can be made before May 31.  After that, climbing permits are obtained on a first-come, first-serve basis.  We have great availability throughout the summer but at certain times our schedule does book up. To make sure a particular date range is available please call us at 800-424-2249.


Fisher Chimneys or North Face Climbs

Climbs of Fisher Chimneys & the North Face are done on a private (1:1) or small, private group basis.  Reservations for these climbs can be made before May 31.  After that, climbing permits are obtained on a first-come, first-serve basis and subject to limited availability.

Cost$1275 (1:1), $925 (2:1) 

Max Ratio (Climber:Guide) - 2:1


  • Backpacking skills
  • Good physical condition
  • Rock climbing skills
  • Ice climbing skills

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

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