1st Day: The Approach
There is a full set of photos and video on flickr
and a full video on vimeo
We spent 4 nights and 5 days climbing Glacier Peak. We started our approach on Saturday, July 21st and summited on my birthday July 24th.
We started our approach at the North Fork Sauk Trailhead. The 7 mile road to the trailhead which has been closed for the past 2 years because of flooding was reopened the day before. We had an easy 5.5 mile hike to the Mackinaw Shelter followed by about 3 miles of grueling switchbacks where we gained 3000 feet. We camped the first night at White Pass and watched a male Grouse trying to woo some ladies.
Days 2 and 3: In a whiteout
Our second day we traveled a couple of miles to the White Chuck Glacier and set up our high camp by digging out a snow kitchen. It was about this time that the clouds rolled in and swallowed us. We were pummeled by slushy hail and winds most of the night but the tent held up.
We slept in late on the third day since we were still engulfed by the clouds. After enough hands of cards and coffee we ventured out of the tent in search of the mountain. We still had not actually seen the peak at this point. Following a compass bearing, we hiked about a 1.5 miles in the direction of the mountain before returning to camp.
Days 4 and 5: Summit and hike out
Waking at 4:30 am the fourth day greeted us with perfectly clear skies for the first time. We set off from camp at 5:15 towards the summit. We followed the White Chuck up to the large moraine ridge that leads to Disappointment Peak. The snow was perfect for kicking steps so we continued directly up the face. It was another hour of easy snow climbing to the true summit from Disappointment Peak. We reached the summit at 2pm and rested for half an hour before glissading down a good part of the mountain back to camp.
After reaching our high camp at 7pm we had a big dinner and a welcome night's sleep. We woke on the 5th day, packed up camp around 10am and headed back to the trailhead which we reached around 6pm.
Climbing Glacier Peak is one of the more challenging climbs I have attempted. I can't imagine doing it with an extra 7 mile approach. A benefit of the remoteness is that we saw no one for 3 days while camping on the glacier.
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