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Mt Shuksan, Washington

John B

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I'm going to post this trip report even though it was more of a mountain climb than a backpack.  Hope this gives others on the forum a chance to see what is one of the most beautiful mountain regions in the U.S. I have had the pleasure of experiencing.  I have had my eye on Mt Shuksan (elev 9131ft) in the north cascades just out North Cascades National Park for many years.  This, as much to explore what has been for me a neglected area of the lower 48 states.  I've seen the pictures, heard the stories from friends, and also spent a half day nearby at the Mt Baker ski area.  This year, it was finally going to happen--my climbing buddy Ed and I made our plane reservations this past March for May 28-31.  Left Denver's DIA airport at 6am Thursday, May 28, arriving 7:30am in Seattle.  After scoring our rental vehicle, we made our way through Seattle's rush hour traffic north on I-5. A two hour drive got us to Sedro Wooley, where we got our free climbing permit.  As I turned 62 last year, I now have a senior pass (which gets me into all national parks, monuments at no charge). Cost of that pass is $10, and it's good for life!  One of the few things about getting older that's a positive!  We wasted about 45 minutes in Sedro Wooley finding a fuel canister for our stove (iso-propane)--even the local mountaineering shop was out (couldn't believe that one!).  After a 45 minute drive from Sedro Wooley, we arived at our trailhead (Shannon Creek) at 2500 feet.  After rearranging our packs, etc we left the trailhead at 2:30pm.  We had hoped to reach a high camp at 6100 feet.  Unfortunately, with the house fire I have been dealing with (hope to have my new home finished in the next few weeks), and the rainy weather in Colorado, I had not been able to get out on conditioning hikes as I had hoped.  It was apparent that I just wasn't in my usual shape, and not good enough shape to do the climb.  We stopped at 5000 feet and made camp when this became obvious.  Second picture is a gorgeous campsite on the snow with an unbelievable view of Mt Baker (10,781) to the west. As it was obvious that we weren't going to do 4100 feet of vertical and a good chunk of it as roped glacier travel, followed by some low fifth class climbing on the summit block, we readjusted our plans.  Got up the next day, and just hiked up to the edge of the Sulfide glacier at 6100 feet, hung out for a couple hours, had lunch, and returned to a second night at our camp. Pictures three to six were taken from our lunch spot.

After our second night on Shannon ridge, we were up the next morning, and returned to the trailhead, arriving there at 12:30.  Then back to Sedro Wooley and a motel and shower.  As we had built in a weather day, our plane flight home wasn't until 6pm on Sunday, so we had time to kill.  Drove up to the back side of Shuksan (picture lake at the mount baker ski area.  I forgot my camera in the motel room, and am awaiting Ed's pictures from here, so unable to post them.  


Sunday found us out of the motel at noon, and an easy drive back to Seattle.  We couldn't pass up the chance to stop in REI's flagship store there, and spent some time looking at gear.  I showed remarkable restraint and only spent $25 on a few maps of the north cascades.  Arrived at SeaTac airport at 4pm, did the usual drill through security, got on our 6pm flight right on time.  Thought all was good....BUT taxi'd out in preparation for takeoff, sat on the runway for 15 minutes, then had the pilot tell us of issues with "engine idle speed", and we were back to gate, deplaned to the boarding area.  Problem was fixed in an hour, but then found that our crew had now exceeded their allowable hours for the day, and could not fly us to Denver.  By the time a replacement crew arrived, we didn't leave until 11:15pm (12:15 Denver time), arrived in Denver at just short of 3am, I hit my bid at 4:30am.  Had to work on Monday--only made it a half day before leaving and going home to SLEEP.   In any event, the scenery was stunning!! Ed and I plan to return to climb Shuksan another day (maybe next year), and I very definitely plan to spend some time backpacing in the north cascades.  Here is a link to all pictures of the trip:  https://picasaweb.google.com/102393818060897668441/MtShuksan052015#6155524731583745810









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those are quite the glacier fields in picture 3 and 4.

I went up to washington much earlier this year since the snow is much lower than normal, climbing St. Helens (warm up) and Hood (solo). I hope to go back next year and try for Baker and Glacier.


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I have much to do in that area--unfinished business, and "new business"--areas to explore.

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