SW Couloir and Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.82365°N / 121.61502°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI3
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.2 (YDS)
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


The W and SW Face of Shuksan is written up in Beckey's guide as being the 1962 and '63 routes on the rock face east of the Lower Curtis Glacier. This large (and beautiful) 2,000' face apparently has several good lines (the '62 line at the left side, the '63 line in the middle, and the '80 line right of center). From the top of the technical rock continue across the upper Sulphide Glacier to scramble up the summit pyramid. Descend as for the Fisher Chimney route.

Getting There

Approach as for the Fisher Chimney Rt via Lake Ann (from the road 4 miles to the lake with good camp spot just beyond). From Lake Ann follow the trail NE towards Fisher Chimney, but when possible head due east onto the Lower Curtis Glacier and traverse it to the SE corner where the climbing begins. 

Route Description

SW Couloir and Face WI3/5.2 *** (Grade III, 3300')

Approach from Lake Ann. From below the Fisher Chimney traverse right (east) onto the Lower Curtis Glacier and traverse this to the upper SE corner. Begin technical climbing at the base of the ice fall that leads to a narrow gully at the right of the main wall. 

Climb 600' of steep snow (45 degree at the top) in the lower icefall to a large transverse crevasse (crossed via a snow bridge), and a short (40') section of vertical ice above - climbed via an open book corner of rock which formed a sort of chimney of ice in the middle - with 20' more vertical ice above, then another 150' of steep snow to the top of the icefall. Climb a 60' section of unprotected 5.0 rock to the narrow glacier tongue above. 100' of steep snow leads to a 2nd large transverse crevasse (crossed easily on the left). Above, climb 300' of steep ice then snow (60 degrees at the bottom, 70 at the top) to the base of the headwall. 

At the base of the steep headwall traverse left to a less than vertical weakness in the wall. 100' of this (4th class) leads to a ledge. Traverse left on this around a corner to a long easy 5th class buttress with good rock and holds. Climb this for about 1,000' to the crest of the main SE Ridge (south of "The Hourglass" and/or "Hells Highway" as it's labeled in Becky's guide). Descend the east side of the rocky crest to the Sulphide Glacier which is then followed north to the south side of the summit pyramid. From here about 800' of easy 5th class leads to the summit or you can take the easier regular 4th class route. 

Descend as for the Fisher Chimney route, via The Hourglass and Upper Curtis Glacier to the Shuksan Arm. 8 hr round trip from Lake Ann.

Essential Gear

60m rope, minimal rack of nuts with extra long slings, crampons, a couple of ice screws and pickets, ice axe and tool.

External Links

Add External Links text here.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.