White Chuck/Gerdine/Cool Glaciers

White Chuck/Gerdine/Cool Glaciers

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.11140°N / 121.1128°W
Additional Information Route Type: Glacier/Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk-up
Sign the Climber's Log


Get to Darrington, WA and head south on the Mountain Loop Hwy about 17 miles to a junction with FR 49, turn left, go another 6 miles to a sign North Fork Saulk Trail. Huge parking lot shared by horse trailers, with a camp spot if you want to drive there, sleep and get an early start the next day. 2200 feet. Make sure you have a very good map of this trail system and Glacier Peak. Its easy for me to understand all the directions we got now, but going in, we needed reassurance, the map is important. This is not Mt Baker or Rainier with a single trail to the base and a boot track to the top with a hundred people to ask questions. There are several ways to get to the base of the climb and a poor decision can get you way off track. We met two climbers coming out the trail, but the mountain was all ours, which was nice, but you are on your own. You climb over ridges, there is up and down, plus the mountain.

From the parking lot you go 2 miles and you find the first fork in the trail. My map calls this Rainey Camp, you want to stay left, not crossing the creek, you are going to Mackinaw Shelter, which is another 4 miles or so, more water if you need it, still in the dense forest and gaining less than 800 feet from trailhead to the shelter. By the way, early on, the trees are huge, beautiful and there has been some nice trail maintenance to this point. Now you have less than 3 miles of good switchdbacks until you intersect the Pacific Crest Trail at 5904 feet according to my map.

At the PCT, my map says you have gone 8.4 miles. You can go to base camp via Red Pass or toward White Pass. We went toward White Pass and came out Red Pass. Both have advantages, but White Pass is shorter. Get your map out. Mine was bought at REI, called the "Provisional Edition", for Glacier Peak. It has topo on both sides, the entire Glacier Peak wilderness on one side , the other side of just the mountain. You want to to get into the basin area near White Chuck Glacier. The map is way off showing the size of White Chuck Glacier, so is the Becky guide showing the picture of White Chuck Glacier. The Glacier is almost non existent now.

The picture in the Becky guide with the dotted route is very helpful, just remember the glacier ain't much there any more. So we took a right at the PCT going toward White Pass, going somewhat south for a short hike, maybe half mile, then follow a very good climbers trail left around White Mountain. My map shows you are actually following the Snohomish and Chelan county boundries. You are below a ridge that eventually you have to navigate over and into the White Chuch Glacier basin. Trails run out and you have to figure a way over and down. You are in the alpine zone, no brush, but there are options. We went to the last high point, looked it over, wasted time, then just went down toward a nice lake. We must have gone about one mile or more down this climbers trail before we went over the ridge.

We camped at the first pond/lake we came to at 7:00PM. We had it all to ourselves, no bugs, plenty of water, comfortable place to put our tent. We figured we were over 12 miles in and more than 4000 feet elevation gain and 500 feet or more lost to the camp spot. It would be near dark by 8:00PM. There are two glacier fed lakes on the map other camp by, and still other go clear to Glacier Gap which you can't find named on my map, but you can find it in the picture from Becky"s guide. I'm not sure where to divide the approach from the route, but continue on past the two glacier fed lakes, now you are in the White Chuck Glacier bed bolder field with a prominent ridge you would not climb over. Stay in the curving old glacier bed valley and get up to Glacier Gap at 7250 feet. Now you see the real climbing route accross Gerdine and Cool Glacier. Disappointment Peak is clearly visible and most of Glacier Peak.


Route Description

This is a varation of the Disappointment Peak route already described. However, there is a significant difference crossing two glaciers, Gerdine and Cool Glaciers, so I hope no one will protest this being a separate route list. Gerdine is not listed on all maps, so use the Becky guide and check different maps is all I can say. From Glacier Gap we skirted a small downward sloping ice field about 200 feet and began another gentle broad ridge leading directly toward Disappointment Peak. The Becky Guide has an excellent photo of this part of the route and where the variation onto the Gerdine Glacier begins.

Once on the Gerdine Glacier you are traveling mostly north.  Disappointment Peak is prominently to to the west or your left. We stayed as far away from the cliffs as we reasonbly could. We saw many significant rock falls and the glacier was abundantly full of sizable rocks. There are no really steep sections on this route, just steady up until the Gerdine meets the Cool Glacier. You are now traveling west on the Cool to a saddle at 9600 feet between Disappointment Peak and Glacier Peak. Here is the pumice, rock ridge and steeping slope (all rock in September) leading to the summit. We found a metal Mazama box and the brass survey marker to the left or west once on top.


Essential Gear

We took the standard glacier gear, harness, ice axe, crampons, rope and some rescue gear, not much. We crossed numerous ice bridges over very deep cravasses.


Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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