My landlord and I left Seattle around 11am for the Shannon ridge trail. Not the biggest fan of alpine starts, haha. We reached the trailhead at 2:30pm and headed out at 3pm. The trail starts as a wide forest trail. After an hour we ran a ton of caterpillars dropping down on a strings of silk to catch prey. It was such a nuisance that we were continually waving our trekking poles around to keep all the webbing off our face. An hour later the trail narrowed and became overgrown and covered in downed trees. By then the caterpillars were gone, only to be replaced by horse flies and mosquitoes... We got a little off track a couple times, so I had to pull out my gps. Luckily I had downloaded a gps track from another hiker's trip report. The trail eventually headed up a creek, which led to the ridge.
So many caterpillars
Once on the ridge we were welcomed by a stunning view of Mt. Baker. We took a break and ditched our approach shoes since it was getting pretty snowy. We tied them to a tree hoping we could find them again with my gps. Once on the ridge the views really opened up.
Long ways to go. High camp (6500ft.) is on the top left
Were we ditched our shoes
Over the ridge
Looking back at Shannon Ridge
High Camp (6500 ft.)
It was 8pm by the time we reached high camp. There were already two parties up there. One was a guided group of two from IMG. Coincidentally, we had given the guide a ride down to Ashford month earlier after climbing Rainier. Really shows how small the climbing community is. The other group was two guys from South Carolina. Both groups were heading out at 2am. We opted to start whenever we woke up. We were initially going to bivy at 7500 or 8000, but after learning that there was a creek and a toilet at 6500 we decided to stay at high camp.
Looking out at the Sulphide Glacier
Baker at Sunset
High Camp Panorama
We found a nice bivy spot in a flat rock outcrop. It was a little bumpy, but gave good shelter from the 15-20mph winds. We went to sleep at 11pm and woke up at 6am. The supermoon prevented me from taking pictures of the Milky Way. Bruce decided not to bring a sleeping bag, wish I had done the same with a 55 degree night. We didn't even need our stoves with all the glacier streams around.
Moonlight on the Sulphide glacier
We headed out around 8am after a leisurely start. The other two groups were up on the summit pyramid. I was a little intimidated by the summit. This is by far the most technical mountain I have climbed. It's a 500 ft. class 3-4 scramble up the gully or a 5.4 rock climb on the South East ridge. The pyramid looked like a near vertical shark's fin jutting out of the mountain. As we got closer the angle looked less steep, but still intimidating.
Looking back at high camp
I never get tired of looking at the North Cascades
As we were heading up, a group reached high camp. We were surprised to see how fast they were gaining on us. When the got closer, we saw they were skiing up the mountain. I can't wait until I can afford a split board and skins. One more group came up the Fischer Chimneys route. We reached bottom of the pyramid at 11am and talked with the two groups heading down from the pyramid. The guides headed up the gully, but the other group went up the ridge without protection. They said the ridge had great rock and they didn't need protection. With that, we decided to go up the ridge and repel down the gully. Heading up around noon.
There weren't any crevasses to worry about.
Looks a lot less steep as you reach the base of the pyramid.
Looking up at the summit pyramid
We headed up the first two snow fields and then cut right to get access to the South East ridge. The first part was a pretty easy rock climb/scramble, but definitely the most exposure I had ever experienced. This is my first experience with actually outdoor climbing. I'm hooked. I think we may have gotten a little off-route. There were a couple 5.7-5.8 moves to reach the summit. We climbed without rock pro, but I never felt too out of my comfort zone. It was fun to see the parallels of the indoor climbing holds to actual rock. There were spots of quartz with holes to fit a couple fingers in and large jugs to grab hold of.
Looking up the ridge
Another team climbing to the summit
Bruce on the SE ridge
Summit & Descent
It took us about 4-5 hours to ascend and descend the pyramid. We had 120' and 80' rope which weren't long enough to reach the next belay point, so we had to tie them together. Due to lack of communication and lack of experience with belaying it took longer than expected and we ended up having to downclimb a few sections, but there wasn't any risky downclimbs. The snow at the bottom was probably the most dangerous part. It was mid day and the snow was pretty slushy on 50-60 degree snow slopes. So Bruce and I took turns downclimbing the snow sections kicking in deep steps.
Bruce on the summit
Another group rappelling off the mountain
Looking up from the downclimb
When we got back to high camp, it was getting crowded. There were two large groups of 8-10 each looking to climb the following day. We gave them some beta and made our way down. We had a little trouble finding our approach shoes. For some reason, my GPS didn't save the name of my waypoint. We spent 15 minutes searching and we found our shoes untouched. We had to put on some deet, because the mosquitoes were swarming. The last few miles seemed to take forever, but we finally made it to the car at 11pm and back to Seattle by 2:30am. I can't wait to try the Fischer Chimneys route someday!