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Shuksan North Face, 11/04/03


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I had a hankering to do something stupid. I hadn't been on a crazy climb with successful results in several months, so something had to give, right? The only difficulty sitting in my apartment was to decide what route was worthy. I don't know why the north face was calling to me, but a photo on Sky's site from a trip to the Price was probably part of the reason.


Like usual when I suggest a non-standard route, Sky was willing to join in on the fun. We made a really late start Monday evening from the White Salmon lodge and made an early start at punishing ourselves for such a silly idea by picking one of the worst possible ways down into the valley. There's supposed to be a road that makes the schwack shorter and easier to take, but we must have been on the wrong one.


We got a short night's sleep. The north face looked dismal from our camp, but since the alternative was a nasty schwack back to the car, we knew we had to get a closer look. We got our reward for persistence from the base of the face when we saw that it actually didn't look so bad after all. There were plenty of cracks on the lower part. If anyone tries this in late season like this, go to the east side of the lower field to minimize the crevasse negotiations. Above the lower part there was some impressive waterfall ice (~300ft?) that would have been sweet, but we went for a couloir to the climbers right which provided its own entertainment value. The upper part of the face presented little problem, aside from the parts that were solid ice. We topped out mid afternoon since I had entered slug mode somewhere during the middle of the climb.


There was a bootpack that we followed around, hoping that we could get down the white salmon glacier or fischer chimneys. Sadly, the upper curtis had a crevasse which ran the entire width of the glacier, so both of those options were cut off. We had to make our way up hell's highway to get out, it seemed. It only had one short section of overhang (~15ft?) that had to be climbed up, otherwise there were no obstacles. The sulphide was an easy descent. We tried calling Ben Manfredi for a ride around the mountain, he sent us his friend Justin since he had to work the following day. Sky ran ahead to catch him while I lagged along, throwing up frequently due to dehydration (all of our water froze), exhaustion, and over-exertion. Sky made good time out, while I didn't. I thought it would be more entertaining to schwack out, to complete the cycle. I went down shannon ridge in a drainage after losing the trail, catching the trail again literally one or two minutes from the trailhead (I didn't even see the register).


Extra thanks to Justin for saving us from hitchhiking all day today. And to everyone who didn't decide to answer my call for climbing partners: you missed out.

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N_C: Whuz happenin? We probably COULD have just soloed, but watching Jeff scares me sometimes, so we used running belays on several sections. I set up one real belay where there was an icy step into the couloir we used to get to the upper glacier.


I'll post some pictures this evening, the frozen waterfall was way cool.

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  • 2 months later...

I've been up there in the middle of the winter twice. The first time, we found steep snow to within 100 - 150 feet of the summit ridge, just SW of the summit, and we climbed both up and down with no real difficulty; two tools came in handy for the final bit but probably would not have been necessary. The second time, it was sunny and stuff was falling down all over the place so we strapped on our skis and left. On that occasion, the snow didn't pile so high and it would have been at least a couple of pitches of rime-ice coated rocks to reach the summit.

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I've got TRs from a couple of my Shuksan climbs that may be of interest to you on my website.

1. Sulphide-June 2002

2. North Face-April 1999

Both were ski descents and done at different times of the year than you're talking about, but done under times of high snowpack. The pyramid was rimed-up real good and provided good footing...no need whatsover for running belay. Although you'll probably have a rope and a couple pickets anyway for the glacier, you probably won't need them for the summit pyramid.

Have a great trip and be sure to post some pics!! bigdrink.gif

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