Mount Shuksan - Sulphide Glacier, October 2001
My first attempt at climbing Mount Shuksan yielded little more than being rained-out while at camp on Shannon Ridge. For my second attempt, I made sure to check the weather forecast beforehand. Being somewhat late in the season I knew that I was risking another big disapointment, but, the forecast was calling for fair weather and I wanted Shuksan bad. After much convincing, I was finally able to talk Andy into a day-trip up the Sulphide Glacier.
We left my place at 2:30am on Saturday and started hiking in at around 5:00am. It was cool and the stars were out. By the time we reached the top of Shannon Ridge the sun was just starting to rise and a strange red hue was cast against the underside of the clouds. I figured the clouds would burn off. This was not to be the case. There were a few inches of fresh snow on the glacier and so we had some careful route finding to do, with several crevasse end-runs. Sunshine filled the valley just beyond us with Tomyhoi and American Border Peaks seen basking in the sunlight. This was our turning around point...and to think we were so close. We had less than 1500ft to go.
To avoid the back and forth traversing around crevasses that we did on the way up, we took a more direct route on the descent and had to skirt several yawning crevasses. On our way up we encountered some inconsistencies between what we were seeing and what we gathered from the route description. We found out later that we hadn't actually ascended the Sulphide Glacier from its toe, but rather traversed below cliffs (left of the glacier) until able to scramble up over rocks and gullies to about halfway up the glacier. I think ascending the glacier from its base makes for easier going.
The next several days brought perfect weather and so we returned the following Saturday. Knowing the good weather window was about to close, we embarked on another early morning start, this time after sleeping at the trailhead. Again, we were on the trail by 5:00am and the stars and moon were out. By the time we reached the top of Shannon Ridge a little more than an hour later, the clouds had begun to roll in. Knowing this was the beginning of a building weather system, we once again turned back, hiked back to Andy's truck, crawled into the back and passed out for a few hours. Will return next season.
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