Mount Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys, August 2002
Following a grueling 16hr day on Sherpa Peak the day before, Tom and I left for Mt. Shuksan late in the afternoon for one last attempt on the mountain in what was forecasted, and what we sincerely hoped to be PERFECT WEATHER. We parked at the Austin Pass trailhead this time and quickly made the short 3 mile hike over to Lake Ann. The last few stragglers returning from their trip to the summit were just clearing out as we approached the lake. Before long, we had the entire area to ourselves and looked forward to not having anyone else on the route with us tomorrow. The sun went down, the wind picked up and we got cold. But at least the otherwise relentless mosquitos were kept at bay.
The Fisher Chimneys are really not much more than a series of loose and vegetated class 3 ledges and gullies. The "trail" is quite exposed in places (features such as "Fat Man's Misery" for example) and while caution is obviously required, the route isn't difficult. We easily walked up Winnie's Slide (steep and icy in late season) to a flat area on the glacier and roped up. A cold wind was chilling us to the bone and so we didn't waste any time. We crossed a couple interesting snow bridges early on and had nothing but smooth sailing on our way to Hell's Highway. We could see a guided party of two making their way up the last portion of the Sulphide Glacier to the base of the pyramid. Not so crowded today! A final bit of 3rd and 4th class rock in the main gully before brought us to the summit.
Was it worth the previous 5 attempts? Who knows. I was just happy to finally have the peak off my list. What about the route? Though not particularly technical in nature, the Fisher Chimneys still makes for a fine alpine outing with plenty of variety. I definitely recommend it over the comparatively boring Sulphide Glacier and as an alternative to those not interested in battling brush on the approach to the North Face. Plus, with names like Fat Man's Misery, Winnie's Slide and Hell's Highway, how could you resist climbing this route?
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