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Dhruv Garg

[TR] Mt. Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys 7/16/2017

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Trip: Mt. Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys

 

Date: 7/16/2017

 

Trip Report:

Seeing a nice weather window, we decided to do Fisher Chimneys over the weekend. The ranger told us that there weren't any permits left and the only available option for us was Lake Anne. That should have been our first sign to rethink things (You'll know in a bit). Resigned to a long summit day on Sunday, we left for Lake Anne around 9.30 AM and made camp around 12.30 PM.

 

Our scheduled wake up time was 2 AM for an early summit but rain until 3 forced us to start around 3.30. The chimneys took about 3 hours. Until the snow traverse (~5800 ft), the only sketchy portion we encountered was the first chimney at the entrance (~5300 ft). After the traverse, there's a rock 'wall' that one has to climb alongwith a couple of snow sections to top off the Chimneys.

 

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Navigating 'the Wall' in the Chimneys

 

Despite it being close to a whiteout, we made good time all the way from Winnie's slide to Hell's Highway and got to the bottom of the summit pyramid (~8500 ft) around 10.30. Whilst on the pyramid, we decided to go for the gully which had a steep snow field for 300 ft and a class 3-4 scramble after that. Alongwith another party of 8-10 people, we summited around 12.15.

 

35609394800_bb3af87355_c.jpg

Starting up the steep snow section on the summit pyramid

 

35187568203_b84e5fb368_c.jpg

Scrambling up the summit pyramid in ideal conditions

 

However, that's when things started to go wrong. On our way down, after our first rappel, we got stuck behind the other party at a rappel station which started a chain reaction (since there were 4 rappels involved) that delayed our descent down the pyramid until 5 PM! Downclimbing was an option but not a favorable one because of the degraded weather conditions.

 

It was just a bad day altogether with cosmic forces just working against you. On our way down, we overshot Hells' Highway and had to navigate back to it and whilst roped up, someone slipped on it which required a quick arrest. Winnie's Slide looked a bit too steep for some people with us and we had to set up a rappel which took a while. All in all, we got to the top of the Chimneys (~6600 ft) around 7.30 PM. After navigating the snow section with a couple of rappels, we downclimbed all the way to 'the Wall' just as it was getting dark. After this, we had to navigate the Chimneys entirely in the dark. This hairy descent consisted of a couple of rappels including the 'Wall' until the snow traverse and another rappel to exit the first Chimney that marks the entrance of the route. This wasn't until 12.30 AM and we didn't get back to camp until 1.30 AM!!

 

Ackowledging the death march to the parking lot ahead of us (since we all had work in the morning), we decided to sleep a couple of hours and break camp then. Our scheduled time to the parking lot was 6 PM Sunday but we didn't make it back until 7 AM Monday. So you could say that we were a bit off script. The descent back to camp was just another kink in the day after another. Fisher Chimneys is a rather fun and popular route but our trip was anything but.

 

Some key notes -

Rappels on summit pyramid - 4 (to navigate a part of the gully)

Rappels on Fisher Chimneys - 5 (4 pre- and 1 post-snow traverse)

We didn't need to make any new anchors. Just used the existing ones. Keep an eye out for them to make your descent easier.

 

For Mt. Shuksan GPX, Mt. Shuksan PeakBagger TR

For more visuals on the route, flickr/Mt. Shuksan 2017

 

 

Gear Notes:

1 60m rope, ice tool, 1 picket each

 

Approach Notes:

Nothing special. Only sad thing is that you start at 4700 ft and you descend more than 800 ft to climb them back up to get to Lake Anne at 4800 ft.

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thanks for the TR.

 

that uphill section on way out builds character. I could use less character though. :)

 

The chimneys are a complex area. I have been in it a couple times and I don't remember that wall area or anything over 4th class. def never needed a rap to get down. not saying that I am a hard ass climber who solos recklessly in the mtns. just that there is or was a easier way up/down. Your way builds character though. :)

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The 'Wall' (I've never heard it called that) is part of the standard Fisher Chimneys route. It is the only section of 4th class in the Chimneys if memory serves. Everything else felt solidly 2nd or 3rd. It was the only part of the chimneys that we decided to rap since we had heavy overnight packs and harnesses still on.

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I'm assuming that since it was our first time, it felt harder than it truly is. Plus, rappelling it in the dark and other mini-epics along the way didn't help to sway our opinions :(.

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Don't feel too bad, darkness and bad wx will make everything feel 100 times harder. When you are tired and the hour late (and rock wet), rapping off solid anchors is often a safer path.

 

Next time it will be sunny and dry and you'll be amazed at how straightforward it feels.

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I have climbed Fisher Chimneys four times, and descended it six times. I've only managed to find the correct route up twice, finding adventurous climbing the other two times. Bonus 5th class escapades with fixed pickets in rock cracks for pro and pieces of a broken helmet for the alpine ambiance. Oddly, one of the times I managed to find the correct chimney was during an attempt on the North Face with the Haley boys. Go figure.

Edited by DPS

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good effort. I would have turned around when it was rainy at 2am leave time. Fisher Chimneys was a route I saw/learned about when I first moved to the NW and I marveled at it, because it was beyond my skill set at that time. I guess it was about 5yr or so later I finally climbed it. And honestly it is not that hard, BUT, but it has more complexity than a lot of other mountains. I had read so many epics about the chimneys and prepared that we seemed to find a very good way through.

 

One aspect is that you aren't getting to a spot then just going up--mentally what you'd think of encountering a chimney. it's almost like the chimneys are an upward diagonal traverse, there are small sections of going more or less straight up but iirc until the very end it isn't for more than 5-10ft or more feet at a time. most of it gradual and little footpaths. But doing it in the dark for the first time, with wet rock..impressive. Seriously get it when it is sunny, less stressful for sure.

 

anyways job well done and thank you for sharing the story in all of its glory ;)

cheers

Edited by Water

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! Yeah in retrospect, the trip did teach a lot.

 

Funny thing is that we met quite a few people doing the north face that weekend and I've been wanting to do that for a while. And the most popular descent route for that is Fisher Chimneys :noway: though you could just as easily take Sulphide on your way out. Oh well!

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I love the fisher chimneys and suprised it did not make the nelson select guides. maybe better that way.

so cool though with the variety of terrain and skills needed. Just when one skill set used for a while, it turn to another before getting anoying. 4th class rock to steep snow to glacier travel to interesting glacier travel back to mellow glacier and then to more 4th class rock. the only thing lacking is sport climbing and aiding.

 

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Funny thing is that we met quite a few people doing the north face that weekend and I've been wanting to do that for a while. And the most popular descent route for that is Fisher Chimneys :noway: though you could just as easily take Sulphide on your way out.

I actually prefer the Fisher Chimneys to the North Face for its variety. Descending via Sulphide would require a long car shuttle. Early season you can descend White Salmon.

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I am planning on doing this route this weekend - but the weather calls for 30% chance of rain Saturday- around the same time I would on the trail to the chimneys.

 

Anyone with experience with the forecast want to chime in - is it still worth it to try out?

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Given the forecast you are likely to be in the rain and mist, in similar conditions to what this TR documented. Sunday looks better, but my exp. is that often moisture is slower to clear out of the mountains than forecast so it still may be pretty socked in until Sunday afternoon. But who knows?

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Given the forecast you are likely to be in the rain and mist, in similar conditions to what this TR documented. Sunday looks better, but my exp. is that often moisture is slower to clear out of the mountains than forecast so it still may be pretty socked in until Sunday afternoon. But who knows?

 

Ah that's disappointing - especially since I was hoping for a dry summit pyramid to do the SE rib...

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Go in an give it a go. if the weather if foul, then you will have built up 10 character points.

 

pin point forecast for shuksan

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-121.59799955127426&lat=48.83368332443618#.WXJDRXo1Z0c

 

hourly forecast for same

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=48.8337&lon=-121.598&unit=0&lg=english&FcstType=graphical

 

looks like the worst of it is fri night, with rain accumulation of .02" in sat afternoon. with 70% cloud cover. betting it will be OK but you could always make the call after winnie's slide where navigating in cloudy conditions may be an issue.

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Go in an give it a go. if the weather if foul, then you will have built up 10 character points.

 

pin point forecast for shuksan

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-121.59799955127426&lat=48.83368332443618#.WXJDRXo1Z0c

 

hourly forecast for same

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=48.8337&lon=-121.598&unit=0&lg=english&FcstType=graphical

 

looks like the worst of it is fri night, with rain accumulation of .02" in sat afternoon. with 70% cloud cover. betting it will be OK but you could always make the call after winnie's slide where navigating in cloudy conditions may be an issue.

 

Thanks for the info!

 

We went for it but didn't know about the advanced permit vs first come first serve. We arrived 7:30am Saturday and all 6 permits for this side were taken. We camped at Lake Anne, made for a long day 2.

Unfortunately didn't do the SE ridge because I was concerned about wet rock after some rain and the summit pyramid being in the fog the entire morning until 7-8am or so. However if we waited till later in the morning we could have done it, by the time we topped out of the gully a guide and client had done the ridge, leaving at 8am from the base. They encountered wet rock

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