Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Overview

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!"

Routes

The Sulphide Glacier (Grade III, 5.2, 30 Degree Snow/Ice, 3 or 4 Days)

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.

This is the route that we take for our public Shuksan Skills and Climb progam.  We have a 3-day option for those with rock climbing experience and a 4-day option for those without.  See the Details tab for more information and prerequisites.  

 

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 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)

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. 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

Curriculum

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

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

Day 1 – Rendezvous at the AAI Equipment Shop and Head to Mt. Erie*

Plan to meet your fellow climbers and guide(s) at the AAI Equipment Shop promptly at 7:00 am. You will take the time to go over equipment, finalize rentals and purchases, review the itinerary, and ensure everyone is adequately prepared.

Once everyone is ready we will make the 45-minute drive to Mt. Erie, a local crag, to start introducing students to concepts of rock climbing. 

Curriculum: Gear selection and care, belaying, rappelling, movement on rock, and basic knots. Additional concepts will be covered based on the time available and the climbing level of the students. As with all of our programs, we also cover the principles and techniques of Leave No Trace.

 

Day 2 – Drive to Mt. Shuksan (5500ft/1676m)

On the second morning, we will start early, load up the vans and make the two-hour drive to the south side of Mt. Shuksan to the Shannon Ridge Trailhead. We will spend the day hiking into our first base camp.

Curriculum: Glacier travel concepts and skills, self-arresting, and additional basic skills in order to prepare for the climb.

 

Day 3 – Summit bid (9131ft/2783m)

Today will be a long day, as we will make our summit attempt. We will wake up early and hop onto the Sulphide glacier and make the roughly two and a half mile climb to the base of the summit pyramid. Once we arrive at the pyramid we will harness up to climb the several pitches to the top of Mt. Shuksan at 9131 feet. We will spend a moment at the top to appreciate our hard efforts before making our descent back down to basecamp.

Curriculum: Summit strategies, route finding, navigation, and hazard assessment.

 

Day 4 – Hike Out

Today we will begin the long hike out. We will pack up base camp and finish the descent, where we will load up the cars and head back to the AAI shop. We aim to be back roughly between 3-7pm.

 

*The 3-Day option eliminates the day of rock climbing at the program start.  The rest of the itinerary and curriculum are the same.

 

 

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Dates

2024

3-day Sulphide Glacier Climbs

  • June 28 - 30, 2024
  • July 26 - 28, 2024
  • Sept 06 - 08, 2024

 

4-day Sulphide Glacier Climbs

  • June 13 - 16, 2024
  • July 11 - 14, 2024
  • Aug 08 - 11, 2024
  • Aug 22 - 25, 2024

 

2025

3-day Sulphide Glacier Climbs

  • May 16 - 18, 2025
  • May 30 - June 01, 2025
  • June 27 - 29, 2025
  • July 25 - 27, 2025
  • Sept 05 - 07, 2025

 

4-day Sulphide Glacier Climbs

  • June 12 - 15, 2025
  • July 10 - 13, 2025
  • Aug 07 - 10, 2025
  • Aug 21 - 24, 2025

 

Variations throughout the season...

While all of these courses run during what we consider the "summer season," there is a large amount of variability in the weather and conditions that a climber could experience throughout this time. We recognize that most of our participants sign up for our programs weeks or months in advance, and although we can never be fully certain of what we'll encounter in the mountains that far out, you can click here for a description of what can typically be expected throughout the summer as well as a guide on picking the timeframe that is best for you

 

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Details

3-day Sulphide Glacier Climbs

Max Ratio (Climber:Guide) - 3:1 

Capacity - 6

Prerequisites

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

 

4-day Sulphide Glacier Climbs

Max Ratio (Climber:Guide) - 3:1 

Capacity - 6

Prerequisites

  • Backpacking 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. 

If you have more experience as a climber and would like to tackle one of the more difficult routes such as the Fischer Chimneys or North Face, we can arrange that on a private basis as well. 

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.

Prerequisites for Fisher Chimneys and the North Face Routes

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

 

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

Related Courses

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