Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Shuksan Sulphide Glacier Ski - April 9-10
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1908 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
  Top

High on the Outdoors
PostMon Apr 18, 2016 7:34 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Who: Josh and Mike Lewis, Don, Myself
What: Mount Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier and Ski Descent
When: April 9-10, 2016
Length: Something like 7,000 feet Vertical and 15 miles RT?
How Much Fun?: Boatloads!

For a much needed break from the inner city life in Los Angeles, I flew back to Seattle to meet up with the Lewis brothers and Don to climb Mount Shuksan. I arrived at Seatac airport around 8 in the morning on Saturday and borrowed my parents car, went to pick up Josh and Mike at their house and stuffed it full of gear. Amazingly, in addition to the 4 people, we fit 4 pairs of skis/boots, and 4 large packs in the trunk of a mid size car!!

By 11:30 am we were off and driving north through the Everett traffic. After copious amounts of cursing and being pissed to once again run into even MORE traffic (LA has more than enough), we made it to Sedro Wooley where we stopped for food. We finally made it to the Shannon Creek Trailhead around 2:30. The drive through the forest was a nice way to escape humanity.

We started up the trail all carrying our skis and boots. I just had my sandals on since we only had a mile or so of bare trail before hitting snow. Once we hit fairly continuous snow we switched into our boots and put the skins on our skis. We then made quick work getting to treeline on the ridge. Once there it was great skinning up to the saddle, and beyond towards the flat camp spot at the base of the Sulphide Glacier icefall around 6,450 feet. The sunset as we neared camp was incredible, and I shot many photos. We even saw a small avalanche come off a small tower to the south of the saddle.

I was the first one to reach camp just as it got dark, but the other 3 guys made it shortly after. There was a solo guy and a group of 5 from Canada also there, but there was still plenty of room to set up camp.

First Views from the Shannon Creek Trail
First Views from the Shannon Creek Trail
Skinning up through the trees
Skinning up through the trees
Nearing treeline
Nearing treeline
Baker
Baker
Saw an avalanche off this feature
Saw an avalanche off this feature
Pickets?
Pickets?
Baker Lake below
Baker Lake below

We woke the next morning at 4am and after a quick breakfast started skinning up the left edge of the sulphide glacier. We were all forced to take skis off to get up the initial hill since it was too steep and icy to skin up. I didn't bring crampons to save weight and was hoping the whole time I wouldn't need them on the summit pyramid. Josh quickly decided to turn back due to his knee hurting but Mike, Don and I continued. As dawn approached the terrain became very mellow and I put the skis back on and skinned the remainder of the way to the base of the summit pyramid. The solo climber was ahead of us and we watched as he started up the pyramid as we approached the base.

The first rays of sunlight hit Baker right as we reached the base and we ditched gear and began climbing the 45-50 degree snow. I was able to kick steps fairly well without the crampons, but Don and Mike were happy to have theirs. We then followed a set of very nice bucket steps on the right edge of the central gully, however crossing over to the left to get into the main gully included some 60 degree mixed climbing on ice and rock which was quite difficult without my crampons and only one ice tool. I felt comfortable on it though, and made it across. Mike also made it nicely behind me. Don then continued ahead since he had the most gear and reached the ridge, which required a climb of a small steep mushroom feature to reach. Don reached the summit about 10 minutes before me and started down just as I reached the top. He downclimbed with the solo climber who passed us as we ascended.

Mike then reached the top and we enjoyed the views for a good half hour before starting down. The views were absolutely breathtaking with Baker to the west, Nooksack tower and the Pickets dominating the eastern skyline. To the south we could see Buckner, Boston and most of the North Cascades peaks while to the north we saw the border peaks and all the way into the high coast ranges of BC. Also, the low clouds blanketing the puget lowlands as we stood thousands of feet above them was so cool!

Summit Pyramid
Summit Pyramid
Sunrise on Baker
Sunrise on Baker
Glacier Peak
Glacier Peak
Climbing steep alpine ice
Climbing steep alpine ice
Topping out
Topping out
American Border Peak on the right
American Border Peak on the right
Nooksack Tower
Nooksack Tower

Before we even started descending Don had already reached the base of the pyramid. Mike and I started down and it took us a solid hour at least for us to get down. I was forced to very carefully kick steps into the hard alpine ice every step which made my toes numb. I ended up skipping the mixed section and didn't cross over the rock rib. I instead continued straight down the main gully staying in the sun hoping it would soften it up. Unfortunately it wasn't any softer and I just ended up sweating more.

I traversed back to the right and finally reached the set of bucket steps I used on the ascent and made it down. Mike then made it back shortly thereafter and proceeded to mention something along the lines of it being the scariest thing he's ever done!

While Mike and I descended, Don chatted with the canadian group who skinned up from camp and reached the base as we descended. They were an interesting bunch...I'll spare everyone the gory details of their actions though and just say they were a seriously messed up group lol. After seeing the fun Mike and I were having on the summit pyramid they decided against doing it and quickly skid back down the mountain.


Mike Don and I started skiing down just before noon, after a long break, however Mike was still too exhausted to ski so he was forced to walk back to camp. Luckily the snow was still fairly firm and he was able to walk down without incident. I was happy with myself that I skid down without too much trouble. Upon arriving back at camp, we saw Josh practicing on his skis on the small hill next to the tents. We all took a long break and I took my ski boots off to let me feet recover from the kick stepping!

By 2pm we were packed up and started descending. We had waited too long though and the snow really began to soften up to the point where I was sinking in 4 inches or more. Don was really concerned with avalanches at this point. Josh and Mike were forced to posthole down as their skis were too short and narrow to provide any support. I was able to ski down in long straight lines but couldn't turn in the deep slushy snow. I had to waddle around to change directions.

At one point too, Don set off a large avalanches that dropped off a cliff below us. Thankfully no one was in it! Slowly, we all made it back to treeline and I tried my luck skiing through the trees. Where the trees weren't too thick I was able to do it with only a few falls but as we neared snowline I carried them the rest of the way.

For the final descent back to the car on the trail, I continued straight down steep slopes to meet the trail closer to the car as I had to get my boots off. My feet were in serious pain since my ski boots are a little too small. Don, Josh and Mike continued back to pick up approach shoes that we stashed at the snowline. We all made it to the car before dark and went straight to a Mexican restaurant for dinner!

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Josh Lewis
a.k.a. Josh Lewis



Joined: 01 Nov 2007
Posts: 4647 | TRs

Josh Lewis
  Top

a.k.a. Josh Lewis
PostMon Apr 18, 2016 9:13 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Reserved.

--------------
Strap in. Phun Ahead
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Michael Lewis
Taking a nap



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
Posts: 550 | TRs
Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
Michael Lewis
  Top

Taking a nap
PostMon Apr 18, 2016 9:31 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Fun trip all! Shuksan was everything I wanted and more and I'm glad we went. Yeah the summit pyramid was very intimidating but I knew I could do it. Maybe next time I'll actually know how to ski well before going so far embarassedlaugh.gif . Glad we all had beacons shovels and probes just in case and really appreciated Don's superior leadership skills and communication. Thanks Matt for the memorable trip.

Image dump:

nice shade
nice shade
hope my avy beacon works. Oh cool it does...
hope my avy beacon works. Oh cool it does...
I really hope I don't have to use it
I really hope I don't have to use it
below Sulphide Point
below Sulphide Point
glowy ridges
glowy ridges
taking a zillion pictures while losing daylight
taking a zillion pictures while losing daylight
we better hurry
we better hurry
magical
magical
at 4 am wtf?
at 4 am wtf?
yup, it looks fun
yup, it looks fun
pun sin win
pun sin win
a rare view
a rare view
a rare view of Matt not way ahead
a rare view of Matt not way ahead
that might be nice skiing later
that might be nice skiing later
reminds me of Hood
reminds me of Hood
ahh the North Cascades
ahh the North Cascades
maybe I can do this?
maybe I can do this?
wow he's almost there, maybe I can do this
wow he's almost there, maybe I can do this
I wonder if that's on peak bagger
I wonder if that's on peak bagger
and later passing me by
and later passing me by
shoulda just practiced skiing on that little thing
shoulda just practiced skiing on that little thing
How did we get here? I don't know how it happened.
How did we get here? I don't know how it happened.
"I dare you to walk over there"
"I dare you to walk over there"
Transforming into slush
Transforming into slush
Shuksan's North Face
Shuksan's North Face
we'll have to leave eventually
we'll have to leave eventually
marine layer still going
marine layer still going
God, I don't look forward to the down-climb...
God, I don't look forward to the down-climb...
just trying not to flip out
just trying not to flip out
applying that sunscreen in the big oven and eating Banana bread. Good times.
applying that sunscreen in the big oven and eating Banana bread. Good times.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Donwin
Member
Member


Joined: 18 Apr 2016
Posts: 1 | TRs

Donwin
  Top

Member
PostMon Apr 18, 2016 11:36 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Some further details and clarification. It was a very hot weekend and there was cornice fall happening at the notch as you approach the Sulphide. The notch is between peaks 6531 and 5817. There was already run out of sluffs off the bluffs about a mile from that notch and up into camp. The snow was actually in good condition and not forming roller balls when we entered camp at dusk.

The next day on the descent was much hotter with higher temps and less wind., and the shooter 125cm and 140cm skis in our party were actually punching into the snow up to a foot at points. My 170cm were getting by and Matts 180s were doing OK.  The danger for avalanches was increasing as we slogged through. We  made the decision to move in a line pitching out our movements across the steeper slopes of this section as we were in the most dangerous part of the descent at the worst time of day!

I went first across the last 30-35* slope and unzipped a sluff that slid down a bluff beneath us on the SE side of the notch(EDIT: Would call it R2D1.5, maybe 20% of the particular slope fell and it would only hurt some one if they were pushed off the bluff). Josh yelled out to me DONT STOP GOGOGOGOGO! I realized the danger I was in and kept bee lining it to lower angle terrain.

The rest of the 5 miles was beautiful ski conditions down through the trees. We made the best of the situation we got, but next time we should be more hasty on the descent in similar conditions.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Dustin Trails
Member
Member


Joined: 23 Feb 2015
Posts: 102 | TRs
Location: Ashford, WA
Dustin Trails
  Top

Member
PostWed Apr 20, 2016 9:41 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Cool looking trip with some awesome pictures!  That is the kind of stuff that gets me excited about returning to WA.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Frodo Barefoot
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Apr 2015
Posts: 89 | TRs

Frodo Barefoot
  Top

Member
PostWed Apr 20, 2016 11:12 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great trip and photos!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
nordique
Member
Member


Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 956 | TRs

nordique
  Top

Member
PostThu Apr 21, 2016 7:06 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
What a great trip and so well photographed!  Thanks!

I love these accounts of an ascent that I did, at age 36, way back in 1980, on light telemark gear and in ordinary nordic ski boots that--in my case--did not reach my ankles.  We bivy'd at the trailhead and did the trip, up and down in a day, passing many parties.  Only a few of our party planned to go to the top:  they were the ones with ice axes.  The rest of us just wanted to ski!  Photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/sets/72157594343390727/

Little did most of know that this was the trip of a lifetime!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6556 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
  Top

Mid Fork Rocks
PostThu Apr 21, 2016 7:37 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Incredible scenery in that area -- never get tired of it. Good work getting up and down safely.

--------------
Mid Fork Rocks flickr
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Jetlag
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Aug 2010
Posts: 1407 | TRs

Jetlag
  Top

Member
PostThu Apr 21, 2016 8:42 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Alpine photo explosion! Breathless!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1908 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
  Top

High on the Outdoors
PostMon Apr 25, 2016 5:03 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks everyone for taking a look smile.gif
It was spectacular to be up there

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
joker
seeker



Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 7718 | TRs
Location: state of confusion
joker
  Top

seeker
PostTue Apr 26, 2016 1:31 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
It's a very fun and scenic tour. The views just get better and better and better. and the skiing is quite  moderate.

The snow on that last traverse down just before you get to the notch has that tendency to want to slide down over the  cliffs below when you get back to it in late afternoon. If you until wait just a bit later in the season you'll have a longer hike on the approach but a better  chance of firmer snow (i.e. less ski penetration, less or no skier caused snow slides and more fun on the descent). We always did it as a day ski with a trailhead bivy.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 9277 | TRs
Location: Wenatchee
wildernessed
  Top

viewbagger
PostTue Apr 26, 2016 2:31 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
up.gif

--------------
Living in the Anthropocene
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Shuksan Sulphide Glacier Ski - April 9-10
  Happy Birthday Gabigabs!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy