Squak Glacier

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.77750°N / 121.8119°W
Additional Information Route Type: Glacier Climb
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: Grade II or III
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview & Approach

The Squak (and neighboring Talum to the E) lie on the S slopes of Mt Baker. The Squak provides an interesting alternative to the Easton Glacier route. Starting from the same trailhead (as the Easton) the approach takes a shorter and more direct line (to the mountain); when visibility is poor the Squak provides an easier to follow (due S) descent line. The Squak is both shorter (on the approach) and also steeper (on the glacier) than the Easton route but the slope angle is not too steep for beginners. Both the Squak and Talum Glaciers were named after Nooksack indians who assisted Coleman on his first ascent of the peak.

From the Railroad Grade on...
The climbing route follows the right-hand skyline. Starting at the rock outcropping below Sherman Peak (high camp) climb towards the center of Sherman Crater, passing beneath the Pooch. Once the crater rim is reached follow N and up to the summit plateau. Photo provided by Corey Bigler.

Massive crevases lie on the Easton Glacier which the Easton Glacier Route avoids by climbing N around; these same crevasses can be reached easily by a traverse W from high camp (upon the Squak) and (for those wishing) excellent crevasse rescue pratices can be performed. Another advantage of this route is that Sherman Peak ~10,140' is easily climbed in combination with Grant Peak on the same trip and two 10,000' peaks can be summited on the same trip.

Drive WA State Route 20 (the North Cascades Hwy) E or W to approx MP 82 and turn N onto the Baker Lake Road (FS Road 11) following it for 12 miles to a major Y in the road. Take the left-hand fork (FS Road 12) and follow it just over 3-1/2 miles to another junction. At this junction take the right hand turn (FS Road 13) and continue slightly less than 5-1/2 miles (or as far as conditions allow) to the TH at roads end. A Forest Service parking pass is required on all vehicles (at the TH).

Route Description

The Forest Service Scott Paul Trail 603.1 (formerly Sulphur Moraine Trail) shares the TH with the Park Butte Trail 603. Take the first right (100') down the trail and begin easy climbing N through forest for 2 miles up a broad shoulder (staying right - E of) a prominent creek drainage. In early spring the trail can be lost just keep in mind to maintain your direction (N) with a creek on either side of you. At about 2 miles (from the TH) the Scott Paul Trail diverges (left - W) from the climbers route which continues up and N.

Camp before the Storm
Continue hiking N reaching the Glacier at around 6200' elevation. Camping is allowed above 6000' (FS rules) but a high camp site (6960') can be found alongside the Sulphur Moraine (right-hand edge of the glacier) or below a Prow of rock (due N) at 7680'. This Prow is clearly seen (on the S skyline) from a distance to the SW.

From high camp skirt the rock Prow to the W and then continue N to below a small horn on the Sherman Crater rim half-way between Sherman Peak and the Roman Wall; near to the N of here is where the Easton and Squak routes merge (see photo). Negotiate the short steep slope to the crater rim and continuing (N), climb the final steep slope up to the summit plateau; stay left (W) of the Crater (and rock wall above it) and right (E) of the Roman Wall. Grant peak is the small hump on the NE corner of the plateau. Descend the route.

Essential Gear

Glacier equipment; pickets, prusiks, wands, ice axes, crampons and ropes.

Weather & Avanlanche Conditions

Check with NOAA for current weather conditions.

Check with NWAC.US here or here (text) for avalanche conditions.



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