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[TR] Mount Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys 10/03/2020

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Trip: Mount Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys

Trip Date: 10/03/2020

Trip Report:

Mount Shuksan (9131’), Fisher Chimneys Route Trip Report – October 3-4, 2020

I Climbed Mount Shuksan (9131’), Fisher Chimneys Route over the weekend going solo.   Class 3-4 with steep ice/snow sections.   I’ve been thinking about doing this route for years.   A weather window opened up and I had the time and motivation to finally make it happen.  I figured late season would have less people on route which would make the climbing safer and faster.   I Started from the Austin Pass/Lake Ann Trailhead at 9:00am Saturday, finished 7:00pm Sunday.  A glorious weekend in the North Cascades!  Overall this is a great climb that tests your skills and pucker factor. 

Tips and Notes:

  1. )   I did this climb as a two day trip. Worked out well.  6 hours on day 1 to Camp above Winnie’s Slide (7100’), 12 hours on day 2 from camp to summit to car.  Day 2 was long but not too bad.
  2. )  Water Options:  Lots of water on the way to the Start of the Fisher Chimneys.  Next water source was at the camp at the base of Winnie’s Slide and at the camp above Winnie’s Slide.  Nothing in between.  There is water along the route to the summit, but it is very difficult to get to.  Water up at the base of Hell’s Highway for the trip up and back.      
  3. )   Camp options:  There is a camp on the ridge at the top of the 1st Chimney section just before the talus field to the 2nd Chimney – 2-3 spots.  There is a camp at the base of Winnie’s Slide – 2-3 spots.  There is a camp at the top of Winnie’s Slide – 6-7 spots, great water supply, best camp in my opinion.   You can camp above Hell’s Hwy but you will be on snow and will need to bring water or melt snow. 
  4. )   Spicy Sections:  Winnie’s slide is mostly pure blue ice right now and it is steep.  I climbed the left side in between the crevasses as it looked better to me.  It was a mix of shitty ice and icy snow but worked out fine.   The Top of Hell’s Hwy is mostly ice and the best option was climbing the knife edge to the upper section.  It is exposed and the ice/snow is not that great but it worked out fine again.   
  5. )   Equipment Considerations:  I brought Steel Crampons and two Ice Tools.  This worked well for me.  I didn’t bring a rope but could definitely see where it would be very nice to have one, especially for Winnie’s Slide.  Going up and down the icy sections without a backup required total focus and perfection.  Bring a rope if that would be a problem.   
  6. )   Travel Time for reference:  Day 1 – 9:00-11:30am Trailhead to Start of Fisher Chimneys, 3:15pm arrived at top of Winnie’s Slide Camp 7100’ - 6.25 hours.   Day 2 - 7:00-10:00am 7100’ camp to summit, 12:30pm back to camp, 7:00pm back to TH – 12 hours.

Gear used:   (2)  Ice Tools, Steel Crampons, Trekking Pole, Helmet

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Start of the Fisher Chimneys

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Defined trail along the Fisher Chimneys

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A Class 4 section of Fisher Chimneys

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Upper Fisher Chimneys starts on the other side of the talus field right next to the large rounded boulder with the shadow.

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Right side of Winnie's Slide from lower camp.  

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Left side of Winnie's Slide from lower camp.  I went through the lower part of the crevasses and went straight up.

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Beginning of Hell's Hwy.  Note the location of the climbers on route.  I climbed the rock ridge to that location to start the Hwy.

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Hell's Hwy from 7100' camp.  The knife ridge on the right was the best route up.  

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Upper Inside Corner of Hell's Hwy.  Icy Steep and nasty.

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Looking back on Hell's Hwy at the top of the knife ridge. 

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Shuksan Summit Pyramid.  A fair amount of snow on route.  Snow was firm with ice in spots.

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Party on the Summit.  8 other climbers thinking maybe late season would have less traffic.  Only so many weather windows left for the year.  

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Clouds moving in as I was heading back to the trailhead.  I hit the weather window perfect!  I would hate to be on the Fisher Chimneys in the rain.  

Gear Notes:
 (2)  Ice Tools, Steel Crampons, Trekking Pole, Helmet

Approach Notes:
Started from the Austin Pass/Lake Ann Trailhead
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Congrats on a classic! And solo. Dang, I would not have wanted to downclimb Winnie's Slide in late season!

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"Going up and down the icy sections without a backup required total focus and perfection" 

So true! I hit it solo back in mid-August, and an icy Winnie's definitely gave me pause. Strangely, I had the entire summit pyramid to myself. When you are back at the trailhead, it's cool that you can see both Winnie's and Hell's Highway from parking lot,. Before I climbed it, Shuksan's complexity made it hard to figure out where the route actually went. What an awesome mountain. I look forward to doing some of the North Face routes and of course Nooksak Ridge/Tower and Jagged Ridge too. Looking down on the Hanging glacier from the summit was wild! Descending the route in a whiteout/storm/darkness would be epic!

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