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Mount Shuksan

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Mount Shuksan

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.83109°N / 121.60287°W

Object Title: Mount Shuksan

GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map

County: Whatcom

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Ice Climbing, Scrambling, Skiing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 9131 ft / 2783 m

 

Page By: Josh Lewis

Created/Edited: Apr 15, 2001 / Jun 1, 2014

Object ID: 150347

Hits: 133147 

Page Score: 98.75%  - 89 Votes 

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Overview

 
Mt. Shuksan reflected in...
Fall Colors at Picture Lake
"Mt. Shuksan epitomizes the jagged alpine peak like no other massif in the North Cascades... it has no equal in the range when one considers the structural beauty of its four major faces and five ridges...There is no other sample in the American West of a peak with great icefall glaciers derived from a high plateau, and in the Pacific Northwest it is the only non-volcanic peak whose summit exceeds timberline by more than 3000 feet... Shuksan is one of the finest mountaineering objectives in the North Cascades and its reputation is certainly deserved; a wide variety of challenges can be encountered on this quite complex mountain. The climber has a choice of rock walls, moderate firnfields, steep ice, and easy scrambling. Despite a sometimes-forbidding appearance, Shuksan has yielded 14 routes, numerous variations, and impressive subsidiary climbs, including some directly up dangerous ice cliffs." - Fred Becky (Cascade Alpine Guide : Rainy Pass to Fraser River)

Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains in the world for it's striking beauty and easy access. It is ranked #13 on Washington's Highest Peaks (#10 on the Bulger List), #60 on Washington's Steepest, is on Fred Beckey's Great Peaks of North America, and has 4,411 feet of Prominence. It also has a route listed on North America's 50 Classics list. The mountain's name Shuksan comes from the Native American (Lummi tribe) word šéqsən, which means "high peak". Shuksan is located in the North Cascades National Park at the edge of the Mount Baker Scenic Byway. Shuksan Arm is located in the Mount Baker National Forest.

Mount Shuksan Panorama
Mount Shuksan's West Face during Winter

Escaping the Fisher Chimneys
Above Fisher Chimneys
Mount Shuksan and Fall Colors
Fall Colors
Climbing Winnies Slide
Climbing Winnies Slide
Scrambling to the Summit
Scrambling the Pyramid
User Profile Image
Approaching Shuksan
Downclimbing
Down Climbing
Evening View of Mount Baker
Evening View of Baker
Rick Doing a Bonus Climb
Practicing Some Moves
Jagged Ridge and Seahpo Peak
Jagged Ridge
The upper Price Glacier and...
Upper Price Glacier

Routes

 
Climbers on the Sulphide
Sulphide Glacier
 
Fisher Chimneys
Fisher Chimneys
 
Mt. Shuksan North Face route overlay
North Face Diagram
 
Above The Wall
Climbing SE Rib
 
Price Glacier, Mt Shuksan
Price Glacier
 
Summit pinnacle
Northwest Arete Climb
Sulphide Route (Class 3-4):This is the easiest route up Mount Shuksan as well as the most popular on the mountain. It's relatively straight forward under good conditions and of course good directions. Like any other route up Shuksan it requires glacier travel and has a exposed scramble near the end of the climb. Some say class 3, others say class 4. To be safe I say class 3+.

Fisher Chimneys (Class 4): This is the second most climbed route on the mountain and is considered perhaps the shortest in terms of distance. The route consists of class 4 scrambling, crossing a few glaciers, and icy sections in late season. Certainly a quality route that is a great alternative from the Sulphide Glacier with a good mix of alpine elements.

North Face (50 Degree Snow): "The North Face of Mt. Shuksan is a serious snow-and-ice route of moderate steepness on one of the most beautiful mountains in the Cascades. No route on Mount Shuksan is more dramatic than the seldom-done North Face, which ascends the snow- and glacier-clad shoulder dividing the White Salmon cirque from the Price Glacier cirque. The North Face route offers the classic Mount Shuksan challenges: approach difficulties through a valley choked with slide alder, problems with routefinding on the complex peak, and the physical demands resulting from the sheer size of the mountain. But it is a rewarding and direct route to the summit with a satisfying feeling of openness and exposure, a sublime setting, and a view down to Price Lake, milky with glacier slit. The climbing is 40- to 50- degree snow and ice. As with all such routes, snow conditios can be a major variable. Good snow (cold and hard) makes for a pleasant and enjoyable climb, while soft snow can make for a terrifying and possibly dangerous experience. Any climb of Mount Shuksan can be considered strenuous." - Nelson and Potterfield's Selected Climbs in the Cascades

Price Glacier (Class 4, Grade IV): "Made famous by its inclusion in 'Fifty Classic Climbs of North America', Price Glacier dominates this most impressive aspect of one the most iconic North American peaks. After its inevitable first ascent by Fred Beckey it was heralded as the hardest alpine ice route in the contiguous United States. Today, most competent alpinists will want to take two to three days to approach, climb, and descend via one of the easier routes. Familiarity with the chosen descent is advised. Beware that this route has objective hazards; I nearly got the chop when a TV sized rock came down the gulley between Nooksack Tower and the main lobe of Price Glacier... Get an early start and climb fast. Some parties have bivied on the route, an unappealing proposition." - ExcitableBoy

Southeast Rib 5.4: "The Southeast Rib is an airy alternative on somewhat exposed, high quality rock on a buttress running just to the right of the gully. Views along the buttress are commanding. While slightly more technically difficult, it is worth it. Most parties rope up on the glacier anyway, so one's only extra weight is a few slings and some rock shoes." - mrwsierra This route can be a great alternative from the standard south face gully when it is filled with snow.

Northwest Arete (5.7, AI2+): "A long Cascade adventure climb with a full array of mountaineering challenges including bushwhacking, complex routefinding, runout and loose rock climbing, moderate alpine ice, and extensive glacier travel." - Z-Man

Getting There

Mount Shuksan Clearing Up
Shuksan View from the Road
Sulphide Glacier Directions: View Google Map Directions.

From Seattle: Take I-5 for about 60 miles until you get to Mount Vernon, take a right at exit 230 onto Highway 20. After about 0.2 miles be sure to take a left onto S Burlington Blvd (this goes North). After 0.4 miles take a right back onto highway 20 (at this part of town it is known as Avon Ave). In about 22 miles you will see a road called "Baker Lake Road" which will be on your left, take this road for about 23.5 miles. From here there is a fork in the road, be sure to go left which goes onto NF Road 1152. Follow NF-1152 for 4.3 miles. Turn right onto NF-11520 which will take you to the trailhead (2,500 ft).

The road may be snow covered in early season making it a longer approach. Many decide on bringing ski's to make traveling faster.

Fisher Chimneys Route: Head north on I-5 until you get to Bellingham. At exit 255 take a right onto highway 542 (East Sunset Drive). Follow the highway for 55.4 miles which takes you to the Mount Baker Ski resort. Drive one more mile to Austin Pass (4,700 ft) which will be on your left.

Standard Climbing Route

Hike the trail on an old logging road bed to the end in a brush-covered clearcut. Hike the trail steeply up onto Shannon Ridge above into the virgin forest. Follow this trail in forest to the open ridge with views of Mt. Baker. Then hike the ridge to its end below a pass that leads onto the southern flank of Mt. Shuksan.

Hanging Valley on Shannon Ridge Trail
Hanging Valley View
En Route to Sulphide Glacier
View After Leaving Trail
Ellen on the ridge
Hiking Shannon Ridge
Shuksan- Just over the col
Shuksan just over the col


A couple route options on the...
Summit Pyramid

Shuksan- climbing Sulphide Glacier
Shuksan- climbing Sulphide Glacier

Crevasse on Sulphide Glacier
Crevasse on Sulphide Glacier

Descending

Typically to get off the summit block climbers do a few rappels down the south face gully. This can be down climbed as well, but is a bit exposed. Once your off the summit pyramid, go down either the Sulphide Glacier or the Fisher Chimneys. The Fisher Chimneys is used for a descent route from the North Face, Price Glacier, or the Northwest Arete. Depending on your planning and the time of year the White Salmon Glacier is an option. However be warned that the White Salmon can be tricky especially in bad weather!

Rappelling--1 of 2 160  raps
Rappelling Off the Summit Pyramid
Exposed Downclimbing
Climbing down Shuksan's Pyramid

almost to hell s highway
Heading Out near Hells Highway

Red Tape

All trails and some picnic areas and campsites on the Mt. Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest require a regional pass costing $5/day or $30/year. Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders may purchase the above pass at a 50% discount. The Golden Eagle Passport will not apply to the Regional Northwest Forest Pass.
You can get them at these stores or these ranger stations. The pass can also be purchased online from the Washington Trails Association. A backcountry permit is required for overnight stays within the National Park, which includes camps on Shannon Ridge and on the mountain itself.

When To Climb

 
Sun Light on the Edge of Mount Shuksan
Sun Light on the Edge
 
Climbing up onto the ice of...
Climbing in Icy Conditions
July through October are ideal months to climb this peak. Late July to August is prime time to climb the standard routes due to conditions and weather. The standard routes are still fine in September/early October but have more crevasses and aren't as pretty. In late season the glaciers are much icier, some routes will require ice tools and ice screws. June and early July tend to have a lot of bad weather days making it questionable to make a successful ascent as well as the south face couloir being filled with snow. As October rolls through, snow and rime arrive as winter comes in. The rest of the months are very snowy on Shuksan. But it can be done during winter with caution, steep snow climbing, and good conditions.

Camping

For the standard route you can camp on Shannon Ridge as well as a few places along the Sulphide Glacier. On the Fisher Chimneys you can camp at Lake Ann (4,700 ft), a bivy spot after the Chimneys, or after Winnies Slide just before the Upper Curtis Glacier. I suppose it might be possible to camp at the top of Hells Highway but it isn't ideal.

A backcountry permit is required, and can be obtained at the same ranger stations as were mentioned under Red Tape above.

Awesome Camp Spot
Camping on the Sulfide Glacier
Camp @ 5600 ft
Camping on the NW Ridge
Bivy camp between White Salmon & Curtis Glaciers-Mt Baker in back
Upper Curtis Camp
Shuksan- Sulphide base camp
Sulphide Camp (6,500 ft)

Weather & Conditions

Ideally this peak should be climbed in good conditions. Lenticulars form quite often when bad weather approaches this peak. Plus you don't want to miss the exciting views.

For current weather information on Mount Shuksan check in with the Noaa Forecast.

For Avalanche Conditions, check in with the Northwest Avalanche Center. (Limited based on the season)

Check in with the National Forest Website for more information on the current road conditions which it will say for "Shannon Creek 1152/1152014". There is no up to date website for the trail conditions for Mount Shuksan.

Into the Fog
Into the Fog
Looking down on the Upper...
Hanging Glacier Down Below
An interesting section about...
Spicy Conditions near the Top
The Summit Lenticular
Summit Lenticular

Mount Shuksan with a Lenticular Forming
Mount Shuksan with a Lenticular Forming

Gear for the Climb

 
Excited to Climb
Carrying an Ice Axe
 
ExcitableBoy with the Lower Curtis Glacier
Loaded Up with a Heavy Pack
 
Corrie topping out of Hell s Highway direct
Snow Gear
 
View above Fisher Chimneys
Helmet and Headlamp Ready
 
Ready to Roll in the Morning
Glacier Gear Ready
Here is a list of pretty much everything that you will want/need for this climb. Keep in mind, this list only applies to the standard routes. The more technical routes will most likely require more gear and technical training.

Mandatory Gear for the Climb:
  • Ice Axe

  • Crampons

  • Helmet

  • Rope

  • Glacier Rescue Gear (prusiks, carabiners, webbing, ect.)

  • 2 Snow Pickets (for standard glacier travel)

  • Shell Jacket

  • 2-3 Liters of Water Per Person

  • First Aid Kit

  • Glacier Glasses/Goggles

  • Full Scale Mountaineering Boots (or plastics)

  • Plenty of Food

Recommended Extras:
  • Nylon Shell Pants

  • Sun Screen

  • Map and Compass

  • Long and Short Sleeve Shirt

Overnight Gear:
  • Tent/Bivy

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Ground Pad

  • Water Filter/Tablets

  • Stove, Fuel, Pot, and utensils (for cooking)

Optional Gear:
  • Camera (lots of great photo opportunities)

  • Tooth Brush and Paste

  • Shorts

  • Toilet Paper/Blue Bag

  • Trekking Poles

  • GPS

Topographic Maps



Fisher Chimneys Topographic Map
Fisher Chimneys Topographic Map
Map Shuksan North Ridge to White Salmon Glacier
North Face Topographic Map

History

Mount Shuksan was first climbed by Asahel Curtis and W. Montelius Price on September 07, 1906. In honor of their climb they have three major glaciers named after them on the mountain.

360° Video

Sunsets and Sunrises

Mount Baker and Shuksan Panorama
Mount Baker is on the left, Shuksan is on the right.

Alpenglow on Mount Shuksan
Alpenglow on Mount Shuksan

Red Sunset Colors on Mount Shuksan
Red Sunset Colors from Lake Ann
Sunset from the Ridge
Sunset Above the Fisher Chimneys
Shuksan-moonrise above Hell s Highway at sunset 7-3-09
Moonrise above Hell's Highway during Sunset
Flowing Water on the Upper Curtis Glacier
Flowing Water on the Upper Curtis Glacier

From the western flank of the...
Sunset from the Sulphide Glacier
Evening View of Mount Shuksan
Evening View of Mount Shuksan
Sunrise on Mount Baker
Sunrise on Mount Baker

The Eye Candy Isle

Sulphide Glacier and Nooksack Tower
Sulphide Glacier and Nooksack Tower

Nooksack Glacier Panorama
Nooksack Cirque Panorama with Jagged Ridge

Mount Shuksan s Beautiful West Face
Shuksan's Beautiful West Face
Han Peak Summit
Excited with Shuksan
The Edge of Mount Shuksan
Edge of Mount Shuksan
My colleagues and I had no...
High Up on Shuksan

Summit Pyramid From The South
Summit Pyramid From The South
Mount Shuksan s West Face
Shuksan's West Face

Stormy Weather on Mount Shuksan
Stormy Weather on Shuksan
The moon paid our campsite at...
Enjoying the Moon Light
Here is something...
Mount Shuksan from Picture Lake

Glaciers of Shuksan

North Face of Nooksack Tower with Shuksan
Price Glacier under Winter Conditions
Upper Curtis Glacier
Upper Curtis Glacier during November

Lower Curtis Glacier
Lower Curtis Glacier
Hanging Glacier on Mount Shuksan
Hanging Glacier
Nooksack Cirque and Glacier
Nooksack Cirque and Glacier

Sulphide Glacier in Late Season
Sulphide Glacier
West Nooksack Glacier
West Nooksack Glacier
Upper White Salmon Glacier
White Salmon Glacier
Crystal Glacier in Late Season
Crystal Glacier

External Links

Images