Whitehorse Glacier

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Glacier climb
Time Required:
A long day
steep bushwhacking, 45 degree snow.

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Whitehorse Glacier
Created On: Jul 5, 2005
Last Edited On: Jul 5, 2005


Follow the mine road as far as possible past the Niederprum trailhead (maybe 1/2 a mile?) and park when no longer driveable. Walk an additional 1/2 mile to the road end and look up. The glacier and lower buttresses have a formidable appearance from here. Resolve to never give up and cross the stream to follow a faint track.

Route Description

The best season is winter, and you'll likely start hiking up the compacted snow of avalanche fans to reach a deep fork in gullies. Take the left fork. (this should all be snow). You'll come to a brushy headwall and a choice to follow the left slope of a steep gully on a faint path grabbing alders all the way, or go straight up the headwall, following the brush of least resistance. We chose the latter as the left slope looked less secure. It was brushy, but not thorny and not too wet thanks to cold dry weather. We actually broke out the rope for a short 4th class traverse to leave the steep brushy forest and get onto more moderate slopes above the headwall. Once above this headwall, the route is very straightforward to the summit. Just follow snow then glacier ever upward in a broadening basin. We had 4000 feet of cramponing in well-frozen conditions. The summit block was steep, and it was nice to have a rope to make at least a 30 meter rappel.

Essential Gear

Ice axe, crampons, rope and a few slings. Snowshoes or skis for the descent if going down the normal route.

Snow/Weather Conditions

The importance of climbing this route in cold, clear conditions cannot be overemphasized. The lower two-thirds of the climb is an avalanche basin; you'll realize because you spend so much time cramponing up av fans and debries. Fresh or deep snow would be both dangerous and very tiresome. When cold and frozen however, the route is quite enjoyable!

That said, you might still want to bring snowshoes even on the perfect day. If you go down the easier normal route, you might find an amazing variety of snow conditions. Witness our experience on the southern slopes of the mountain:

"Removing crampons, we glissaded down from High Pass, and began a tiring mile-long traverse. After postholing to exhaustion, Robert and I decided to put on snowshoes. Almost immediately we saw what a bad idea that was. Normally, the MSR snowshoes perform very well on traverses, especially compared to other snowshoe brands. But today, with a sugary 2 inch layer over a hard crust, we were sliding and straining down the slope with every step. They were useless. Soon the five of us were taking turns making a track across the slope. This south side snow was baking, and soon my boots were squishing with water despite a waterproofing application in the morning."

And then, back on the north side, the conditions alternated between deep slush and slippery rock hard snow. The mountain seemed to do all in it's power to prevent us from an enjoyable glissade!

Miscellaneous Info

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