Two important things to know about this route - first, the White Chuck Glacier does not look anything like it appears on the maps. It has receeded substantially. Don't be fooled into going up the visible portion of the glacier, the proper route continues north, then climbs thru a narrow rocky gully to glacier gap. Second, the access to the Cool Glacier from Geraldine Glacier was difficult. Expect to climb over and through ice blocks. We didn't attempt this because we were not prepared.
Final note - observed a coyote on the upper Coll Glacier - don't know who was more surprised, him or us.
Took a variation of Sitkum Ridge. Instead of following the lousy rocky ridge, we shot straight for the summit from the upper Sitkum Glacier. A bit steeper, but a bit funner. Also managed to find some 60+ degree hard snow on the north side of the summit. What a finish! Had the route to ourselves!
What a huge mountain! We hiked to Kennedy Hot Springs at 3300 ft. day 1. Though the net gain is only 1000 feet , there is probably 500 feet of up/down. Day 2 took us up the PCT to the climbers trail and up to our camp on (I guess) Kennedy ridge, around 6,600 feet. The weather was somewhat wet with the mountain socked in. Day 3 we arose to clear, warm weather! We started out at 5 a.m., parted the Rabbit Ears at 10:00, and stood on the summit just before noon. Most of the route was good cramponing snow. We set a few pickets in three places 1) right below ears on the way up, 2) after the notch on the other side of the ears, and 3) on the steep ramp right below the summit slope. This is a great route. Max snow angle was probably 50 degrees. No open crevasses, though my leg plunged into a hole that will be a small crevasse soon, right after the ears. No significant ice, but there is a small bergshrund trying to open on the final summit slope that actually held a screw pretty well. I would want some wands or at least steady GPS points in case of poor visibility though. The route winds around and goes up and down. In the few clouds we got on descent, it does get a little confusing. We used a GPS, and it was helpful on the way down. It took 5 hours to get down to camp. Day 4 we hiked the 10 miles out - 2.5 hours to KHS, then 2.5 hours to Trailhead. I'm glad we took 4 days to do this - it's a very enjoyable area and route if you don't have to take a beating as a beast of burden packing all that stuff for miles and miles.
The approach was hellish, as snow did not start until 5700'in Boulder Basin, and the TH is at 2300'. Plus that is about 5-6 miles in before you can skin to base camp.
It rained on saturday night and crappy on sunday morning
I told everyone there was no way I was not going to go for the summit, since we had tracks from previous climbers, and we had 50 wands and only 3500 feet to go to the summit from base camp at the base of the Sitkum Glacier
But since it rained and was windy, tracks were hard to follow, and I went over a hidden crevasse on the lower sitkum that night when I went to yo-yo the slope but it turned out to be white out for my ski down, so it was a total waste.
Sunday morning we got up to Sitkum ridge and found our way up to the upper sitkum glacier, and around 9k it opened up to blue skies and we got above the clouds
From there on to the upper ridge it was perfect skinning, but on the ridge saddle is where I left my crampons, and of course that is where I started to boot it up, and only 200 feet up it got real icy, as the freezing level had dropped the night before as there were a few inches of freshiez. Scarpa Lasers do kick good steps evern in hard ice and rime though!
We traversed under the summit and everyone went right around to the summit and I went left since there were steps up the gulley, then went straight up that steep headwall to the summit plateau, and then up to the final summit.
The ski down was icy and Chuck and I followed previous tracks, and from the ridge saddle down to the lower ridgeline was some of the best skiing I have had this year. We skied past 2 rope teams of 3 (rope?). After the ridge it turned to mush since it had rained there and it was survival skiing from then on.
The ski down from base camp (7200) to our shoes sucked as well, but better than booting it. Our shoes were soaked that we had left there, and the hike out literally sucked since we had the skis on our packs with a full pack. I vow to never go back there again
Now alison says she wants to go next year...........
Our times were:
TH to Base camp: 5 hours
BC to Summit: 3 hours
Summit to BC: 23 minutes
BC to TH: 4 hours
This was the first 'mountain' my friends and I tried to climb. We made four attempts starting in '93 before reaching the summit in '97. Lack of mountaineering knowledge and poor weather conditions prevented the first three attempts. In '97, Ryan Hembree and I climbed the Kennedy Glacier route, then climbed two pitches of 70 snow and ice on the north face of the summit block as a variation.
Missed the "climbers trail" on the way in and ended up seeing more of the pacific crest trail then I wanted to on the 4th. We only needed to back track about half a mile to get back on track to Boulder Basin. It rained most of the day on the 4th but the 5th dawned a beautiful day. Tim and I left the tent at 6:45 and topped out at 1:45Pm. The last couple of hundred feet steepened to 55+, it was late enough in the day that we were able to kick good steps into the slope. We grabbed a few pics and started down for the car, 8 hours later we were at the trail head.
Dogged by lightning, rain, and climbers heading out as we headed in. Camped at Kennedy, and then the boulder basin. Woke at 1:30 am, and finally saw clear sky. 1999 was a record snow year. Snow started at 5000' and never let up. The lower glacier was more like a snow bowl. Saw only one crevasse, well off our route. Walked past Sitkum Spire, up the edge of the Scimtar Glacier (huge holes!), and circled left of the summit block. (most circle right) I was totally overwhelmed viewing hundreds of snow capped peaks. We were the only ones on the summit that whole day. Hogging the last wild volcano!! Almost seven hours from base camp, a little slow. It was brutal walking out eleven miles (bridge out) that same day. Got to bed at home 24 hours after waking up.
After a rest day ~1km NE of White Pass on a spur of the PCT, started ~2:30am when I awoke to find the persistent rain/mist of the previous day had given way to stars. Eager for her first Washington summit, Mila (the dog) led me enthusiastically through the confusing terrain between White Mountain and the White Chuck Glacier. Beckey's admonition is worth heeding: "advise good visibility." I was very thankful the mist stayed down in the valleys and that the moon lent a bit of light. Spent a lot of time in the dark making unique cairns and putting trios of big rocks in snow fields to mark the way home!
Skirting the lake and the north side of the glacier around 5, dawn gave us enough light to see without the headlamp and we made quick progress. Seemed like the N/NE portion of the glacier was all dirt and rocks and giant melt holes below Glacier Gap. Lots of running water everywhere, but the hiking was fast on frozen mud and rock tops. Didn't have to touch ice, though the central and S portions looked uncrevassed and very good for walking. Three tents in the Gap were all quiet ~6 as the sun rose and sent alpenglow onto the pristine Suiattle Glacier to the S and E. Looked like a great place to sleep!
Saw nobody and barely touched snow all the way along the Cleaver. Totally easy walking with beautiful sunrise and flowers above a sea of mist. Some rockier talus sections were ankle benders, especially on the W side where a patina of frost made flat faces slippery, but staying in the sun we kept up a good pace.
Mila was a total trooper on the steepest blocks leading to the summit of Disappointment Peak. Evidence of a recent avalanche on the adjacent upper Cool Glacier made us both whine a lot. But with 2 little boosts via the collar/leash and we were on top. The final ascent was also snow-free and led to a glorious, albeit hazy panorama.
The hike back was full of good glissading and the antics of white-tailed ptarmigan who appeared worried about what a black and white wolf was doing in the alpine zone. Just barely beat the mist back over the saddle to base camp. Great route on a quiet (Monday) mountain.
With skis on our packs, Scott and I started from the car at 11:00 pm on Friday, hiked to Kennedy Hot Springs. Started out at noon Saturday and reached Boulder Basin that afternoon.
Got up around 3:00 am Sunday. . The route was almost completely snow covered from Boulder Basin all the way up. Crevasse danger was minimal, with only 3-4 small cracks as you roll over onto the upper Sitkum. Some bare ice, too, but easily avoidable. Snow was firm on the Glaciers but too soft on the snowfields. Crampons and rope were just dead weight.
Dropped our skis off 200' below the top and reached the summit just before 9. Clear views to Baker, Rainier, Adams, Puget Sound, and the Olympics.
Enjoyed turn after turn in fine Mid-July corn snow all the way down to Boulder Basin before strapping our skis back on our packs and suffering the 9 knee-pounding miles back to the car.
We had a great time on a huge and beautiful mountain. The first day we hiked to boulder basin (10 miles). We camped on a beautiful campsite without a tent under the great stars and bright moon. The next day we climbed with full packs to about 8200 feet at the top of the lower sitkum. We spent the rest of the day here after a 2.5 hour climb and sunbathed on the rocks. We left our tent the next morning at 3:30 for a 2.5 hour climb to the summit. The route is in great condition with ropes optional. The upper sitkum's firn line is becoming exposed and bare ice is growing. The upper scrammble is negotiable, but I would suggest going earlier to get firm snow due to exposure would make this part scary. The view was amazing, we could see Seattle, Puget Sound, the Olympics, Baker, Rainier, Stuart, The whole N. Cascades for that matter. Sunrises on the route are amazing. We hiked out the whole way on the third day, which was a long painful ordeal, but worth it in the end for the great time on the mountain. All in all, one of my most favorite climbs.
Got HAILED off the route right after the Rabbit Ears, by time we returned to the base of the Vista Glacier, visibility was about 5-8 meters and life was interesting. Same thing in May 1998 - only colder - and more wind. My partners returned (without me, the bad weather king) in September of 1998 for a very iced up and crevassed climb.
Great route - i'll put in the info on at ASAP.