Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt. Si Glacier first ascent, 4.1.2008
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Opus
Wannabe



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Wannabe
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:04 am 
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This past weekend myself and a few friends set out to atttempt a trip weíd been planning awhile now.  We made the first ascent of Mt. Si via the rarely used route up the Si glacier.  Many people have never heard of this glacier, which isnít surprising considering how difficult it is to get to.  It isnít visible from the Si trail, which ascends  the south face.  The glacier is tucked away behind the Haystack on the north-west side of the mountain.  It also isnít visible from the Ernieís Grove area.  Itís a very rarely attempted route and quite difficult.

Our group met at a pull out past Ernieís Grove and geared up.  The weather was pretty rotten and a lot of surprising late March snow had fallen.  This would make the off-trail ridge ascent trickier.  But our first task was to cross the North Fork Snoqualmie.  We looked around a bit and found a shallow section with enough rocks to hop across.  We considered using one of our ropes to rig a hand line, but ended up just using poles and balance.  It was tricky going but nearly everyone made it with dry feet.

On the far side we entered the forest and began our ascent beside the outlet creek from Crater lake.  At first the grade was gentle, but it quickly steepened.  If anyone has hiked the off-road route up Teneriffe you know what this was like.  It was very slick with the few inches of wet snow.  We all put on Yak Trax to help avoid slipping.  Soon we encountered some cliff bands and had to weave our way around and through.  Iím no rock climber, but some places certainly felt like it.  Much more exposed than a typical class-3 scramble.  After some sweating and white-knuckle scrambling we rose above the cliffs and again were on the ridge.

Now we faced an annoying traverse to get below the glacier.  There was still enough snow in the trees to cover the brush, but it also made for some steep side-hilling with a chance for slipping.  We stopped for a refueling of Gu, and alcohol to keep our spirits up, pulled our axes for some aid and started across.  I started off first, kicking steps in the unconsolidated snow as I went.  It was very tedious.  Our goal was an old 4wd road mysteriously shown in my TOPO software.  We never found it.  But an hour later, and one turned ankle, we reached the 3500 ft plateau below the glacier.

Looking up at it was quite a treat!  We could barely make out the haystack above the glacier.  Such a different view than one typically sees.  Unfortunately between us and the top we could see several yawning crevasses.  We hoped there would still be a good snowbridge to cross.  Again we fueled up with Gu and roped up.  We had two ropes, so split into two teams of three for the final 600 ft push to the top.  The snow hadnít consolidated yet making footing on the glacier very dicey.  Being the lightest on my rope I was put out front and given charge of kicking steps.  My legs were a little tired from the traverse so I took it slow, self-belaying the whole way.  Occasionally I would hear cursing from the back as someone slipped, but thankfully arrested before pulling down the whole team.

Halfway up we encountered the large crevasse we had seen.  There was one thinning snowbridge to our left.  It didnít look fun to cross.  We traversed over for a better look, and finding no alternative, decided to go across.  While the others set a boot-belay I started across, stepping carefully and trying not to look down.  Nearly across I did look, wobbled, and jumped the final two feet, digging in my axe.  Scary.  I stood up, dusted off the snow, and started setting a picket before the others crossed.

And it was certainly lucky I did this!  The rest of my rope crossed without incident, but as the second rope was crossing the snowbridge gave an ominous crunch.  Brian quickly hopped over, but before Chris could it collapsed!  The others immediatley went into self-arrest before his weight pulled them in too.  The rope went taut but they held the weight.  Since I was closest I gingerly made my way to the edge and yelled down to him.  He was okay and hadnít fallen too far down.  He was already fishing his prusiks out of his pockets.  I snapped a quick photo, then helped the others secure some anchors.  Before long Chrisís head poked over the lip and we helped haul him out.

The rescue had really winded us and we still had 200 ft to go.  But we were nearing the end of the glacier thankfully.  After recovering some strength we pushed on and found a safe route past the bergshrund and off the glacier.  They were so happy to find solid rock!  I was a little less enthused though, looking at the chosen scramble route.  It was much steeper than the haystack scramble.  Again Iím no rock climber, while the others are at least moderately experienced.  Our original plan was to ditch the ropes, but after the crevasse experience we decided to descend the trail route, so no going back for equipment.  I wont go into details on the scramble, since it was more of myself having a death-grip on the rocks and cursing repeatedly.  I think Iíve blocked the whole thing out.

But we were on top!  Top of North Bend!  There was a father and son sitting on top having their lunch and very surpised to see us pop up out of nowhere with full climbing gear.  Where did you come from they asked?  We told them about our trip and adventure.  They simply looked at us like we were nuts and said ďyou know thereís a trail, right?Ē.  Of course, but that wasnít the point.  Weíd just climbed Mt. Si via the glacier, the first know successful summit by this route!

After feeling the intial high wear off we started down.  Scrambling down the haystack route, even in the snow, was much easier than our ascent.  We were all looking forward to the numbing Si trail and piloting down without thought.  We all tuned out and in an hour were down to the parking lot.  Here Chris called his girlfriend, who was over on Rattlesnake, and she agreed to help retrieve our cars.  We all went out for burgers at the North Bend Bar and Grill to celebrate our success!

GPS ascent tracks
GPS ascent tracks
Crossing the Snoqualmie
Crossing the Snoqualmie
Fresh snow
Fresh snow
Into the fog
Into the fog
Steep traverse
Steep traverse
At the basin
At the basin
Approaching the glacier
Approaching the glacier
Prusiking out!
Prusiking out!
Summit rocks
Summit rocks
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JimK
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:09 am 
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Good going Opus! Are you sure that was a first ascent? I could have sworn that Dicey told me about the glacier route.

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Hiking Northwest
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Bloated Chipmunk
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Farblondjet
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:19 am 
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rotf.gif  rotf.gif  ykm.gif

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Home is where the hiking is. 

"Peaks that have come and gone four times should halt a man in his steps." -- William O. Douglas

A balanced diet is a margarita in each hand.
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yukon222
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:34 am 
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How'd you score the permits?  Every time I have requested one, the Forest Service has said they were reserved for their own use for "research".  I always figured they just didn't want anyone to see a new low elevation glacier forming.

Sweet trip and photos.   up.gif  Congrats on the ascent!
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dicey
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:37 am 
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Wow! I really didn't expect  the crevasses on the Si glacier to be so open this early in the year. eek.gif


Good job! wink.gif

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Opus
Wannabe



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Wannabe
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:44 am 
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Yep, I learned about the route from Dicey.  Make sure you tell those Mountaineers about that crevasse when they go up there for their ice axe training this year!  The permits are very hard to obtain.  It took some creative negotiating with a friendly North Bend ranger and a more than a few margaritas.
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More Cowbell
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:52 am 
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I was paragliding over that glacier early this morning and my camera fell in one of the crevasses.  Did any of you find it?  It had the perfect ariel shot of of a herd of yetis in full rut.

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ďIf you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes.Ē - Unknown
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tigermn
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 8:53 am 
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Nice report. Sounded like an interesting trip.
Definitely a trip out of my league/experience/comfort zone, but interesting to read something different on an all too familiar peak.

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My flickr photo site.
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mntsun
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Wunderer
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 9:17 am 
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Thanks for the brilliant TR!  I must have the cleared version of Topo without the mysterious lowland glaciers.   winksmile.gif

So...we are still awaiting the first Si Glacier descent?
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trailjunky
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Backcountry Bumpkin'
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 10:17 am 
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Holly crap.  This trip sounds scary, glad you all made it safely.  I never knew Si had a glacier, crazy.
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paultkuhn
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 10:38 am 
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Just curious, how many of you guys think he is serious??

04-01-2008
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tofu on toast hiker
Santiago!



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Santiago!
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 11:22 am 
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Sorry, but why is this being posted on a hiking site which many hikers read?  Thousands of people hike Si every week.   Many don't know what a cravesse is.  Pretty soon this mountain will be an SAR magnet and off limits to everyone because of a stupid few.  I'm not belittling the effort.  Job Well Done, but the apporpriatness of posing it here.

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Tofu in the USA!
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paultkuhn
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 11:25 am 
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04-01-2008!!
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mntsun
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Wunderer
PostTue Apr 01, 2008 11:28 am 
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Believe?  I saw the Si Glacier from Fuller Mnt last week.  It had to pointed out to me, though, due to  it's reclusive nature   wink.gif
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JimK
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PostTue Apr 01, 2008 11:30 am 
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That's a narrow gully. Not easy to get a glimpse of the glacier.

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Hiking Northwest
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt. Si Glacier first ascent, 4.1.2008
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