Nooksack Cirque/ West Route(Beckey Guide)

Page Type
Route
Location:
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Very Serious Scramble
Time Required:
One to two days
Difficulty:
Class 3 plus

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Nooksack Cirque/ West  Route(Beckey Guide)
Created On: Oct 10, 2004
Last Edited On: Sep 20, 2010

Approach

Travel Mt Baker Hwy past the town of Glacier, to Road # 34. Road is just past the Snowplow Sheds.There is currently a sign idenifying the road as the Hannegan Pass and Nooksack Cirque Trails. You want the Nooksack Cirque to follow this route.The road dead ends at the trailhead. The Glacier Ranger Station number is 360 599-2714. If you call for information, make sure you get someone who has been up there. And you want current conditions, don't let them guess. The trail is maintained for about 4 miles, the rest is on the river bed...total to the base of the cirque 9 miles...one way! That is what the "Pacific Northwest Hiking" book says. We gained 1,000 feet over that 9 miles, but more than half on the river bed, which must change every year.MAKE SURE YOU MARK where you get onto the riverbed from the trail. If you have to return in the dark, like we did, it is almost impossible to find the trail otherwise. Read my trip report. Basiclly, you hike to the end of the cirque. Get a good topo and study it carefully. I think there are multiple choices at this point.

Route Description

Hike/climb up the moraine debris field until you are on top of the western arm of Icy. This is the hardest part of the route finding I think. My Green Trails Topo shows the trail ending far short of the cirque, which is correct. Remember, you are on the riverbed at this point and have been for about 5 miles. The topo shows the river ending and you will see the moraine to the southwest of the main glacier on Icy Peak. We did this route entirely on this moraine which alternately becomes a heather covered ridge and then back to broken rock ridge. We stayed with this ridge with almost no elevation loss. It is steep in places with no specific trail, just good judgement following the ridge until you see the summits of Icy Peak from the southwest side of the ridge. All of this time you get better and better views of Shuksan and the Nooksack Glacier. Cloudcap Peak (or Seahpo) is off the south, but very close. This may help you keep visual bearings. The Becky guide says the NW peak is the highest with class 3 plus gully leading to the summit. We had no problem idenifying this route. We did find the register on this peak. Return the way you came.

Essential Gear

We brought a 100 foot 9mm rope, harness, crampons, ice axe, trekking poles and some slings. I do not want to find myself that far in, get in a bind and wish I had it with me to make a safe climb. But we did not need any of it. I had the advantage of two guys that had been most of the way the previous year, but unsure of what they had not seen. You need to decide, like us, what your abilities are, risks you take, and pack accordingly. I am not a big risk taker, I like the assurance of some gear if I need it. Earlier in the year, you might find this ridge covered with snow, making ice axe, maybe crampons, essential.

Miscellaneous Info

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