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briejer

Glacier Peak access?

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I tried the White Chuck Trailhead last week. Not to bad up to the old campground, the expected blow down and wash-outs. However from the campground towards the crest trail was horrible, I bailed convinced there is a better way. So, Where is the best access?

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In a nutshell:

 

1. Up the North Fork Sauk River Trail to White Pass.

2. Then, to Red Pass on the Crest Trail.

3. Down the Crest Trail to the White Chuck Meadows at roughly

5000ft., then East up onto the greatly receeded White Chuck

Glacier.

4. Then as terrain allows head North to Glacier Peak.

 

Yes, it certainly is a considerable distance.

Check Beckey's CAG Vol. II, I believe it is chronicled there.

 

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Closed, only refers to automobile traffic. People have been regularily walking it this season with no ill effects.

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1. What are we looking at for total miles from the Darrington side?

2. Anyone know about approaching from Stehekin? How far/conditions?

3. Are the standard routes still skiable? Quantity hardly matters since the approach would be very long, but safety of glacier travel and size of runnels/cups are issues. tx

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I've been trying to sort out the best access to Glacier Peak ever since the huge floods of fall 2003 washed out both the White Chuck and the Suiattle road/trail systems, which had been the two main avenues of access. I'd appreciate any corrections or expansions to the info below.

 

Given the current state of unrepaired road and trail washouts dating from 2003, 2006, and 2007, as of summer 2008 the shortest route to the summit of Glacier Peak remains the South Ridge (aka Gerdine Ridge), which is also the technically easiest route. From White Pass, the shortest way to reach the South Ridge is to follow a climbers' trail traversing NE past White Mtn, then cut through any of several gaps in the ridge west of Pt 6770 (or wrap around Pt 6770 and cross a gap north of it) to reach the deglaciated basin at the toe of the White Chuck Glacier, then continue on north and east to reach 7100 ft Glacier Gap. This saves about 5 miles (each way) and much elevation gain/loss versus going through Red Pass and Glacier Peak Meadows.

 

The three main approaches to White Pass are the North Fork Sauk, Little Wenatchee River, and White River trails. Data for each:

 

North Fork Sauk Trail #649: Trailhead at 2100 ft, 35 miles roundtrip to the summit via White Pass, with about 10500 ft total gain. Difficult creek crossing at Red Creek, washed out bridge.

Due to road washout at MP 0.8 on FR 49 at 1500 ft, add 12 miles and about 600 ft of gain, for a grand total of 47 miles and over 11000 ft of gain.

 

Little Wenatchee River Trail #1525: Trailhead at 3000 ft, 45 miles roundtrip to the summit via White Pass, with about 11000 ft total gain. Apparently, there are no difficult creek crossings or washed out bridges. Also, a newly built (but unfinished) trail reroute to the north of Meander Meadow saves about 1.5 (?) miles in each direction, so closer to 42 miles roundtrip.

 

White River Trail #1507: Trailhead at 2300 ft, 51 miles roundtrip to the summit via White Pass, with about 10500 ft total gain. Three difficult creek crossings with washed out bridges in the first 9 miles.

Note that it's much shorter to leave the White River trail after about 9 miles, then bushwhack north up the Lightning Creek drainage to reach the Honeycomb Glacier via a 7100 ft gap, then ascend west to cross onto the Suiattle Glacier at 7800 ft and descend north past Glacier Gap. This route is about 37 miles roundtrip to the summit, with over 11000 ft of gain.

 

----------

Relevant trip reports from CC, TAY, and WTA websites:

 

Via North Fork Sauk last year: [TR] Glacier Peak - Gerdine & Cool Glaciers 7/4/2007

July 12-15, 2007, Glacier Peak, South Side Route (my report on TAY)

 

Via North Fork Sauk this July: Wa Volcano Cirque Completion Glacier Peak

 

Via White River and Lightning Creek: July 4-6, 2008 Glacier Pk

 

Recent info on Little Wenatchee, from WTA: Jul 17, 2008, Little Wenatchee River #1525

Jul 20, 2008, Cady Ridge #1532,Pacific Crest (Glacier Peak) #2000,Meander Meadows Spur #1525.1,Kodak Peak,Little Wenatchee River #1525

Jul 26, 2008, Little Wenatchee River #1525

 

----------

And what about trying to reach the east side of Glacier Peak instead?

Buck Creek Pass Trail #1513: Trailhead at 2800 ft, continuing via Triad Creek Trail #792 to Dusty Creek Trail #786 (or Upper Suiattle Trail #798), about 42 miles roundtrip to the summit via Chocolate or Cool Glaciers, with about 13000 ft total gain.

 

But the Triad Creek and Dusty Creek trails have been unmaintained for many years (decades?), and the bridge-less crossing of the Suiattle River at 3400 ft is reputed to be extremely difficult.

 

Here's the only recent info I could find, an excellent detailed report on WTA including a summit ascent via the Chocolate and Cool Glaciers: Sep 01, 2007, Phelps Creek #1511,Spider Meadows #1511,Miners Ridge #785,Suiattle Pass #1279,Upper Suiattle River #798,Glacier Peak,Triad Creek #792,Buck Creek #1513,Railroad Creek #1256

 

As for approaching from Stehekin, I don't think that's reasonable at all, way too far. If you mean from Holden, then that would follow Railroad Creek to Suiattle Pass and then join the route from that WTA TR. But that would be about 60 miles roundtrip and roughly 15000 ft total gain, much longer than other options.

 

----------

As for skiing now (end of July), I'd assume that the Sitkum Glacier and South Ridge (i.e. Gerdine-Cool Glaciers) routes remain largely skiable now, but with an increasingly heavily runneled and suncupped surface along with numerous melted-out discontinuities especially above 9500 ft and below 7500 ft. Is it worth the torture of carrying a 65+ lb pack with skis and boots on it for 20+ miles each way, just for a short discontinuous suncupped run? Personally for me NO, so I've decided to wait until next year before hauling in skis again to Glacier Peak, and any trips I might do there later this summer will be on foot only.

 

 

Edited by Amar_Andalkar

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Amar thanks for getting all that info together. That must have taken some time. Glacier earlier in the year (early spring) would be an interesting ski.

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Amar, thank you for your invaluable research, and organized information, you are the man.

 

Just looking at approximate distances described here -- http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150318/glacier-peak.html

It appears as the n-f-s-r-t #649 (standard route) is only 8.2miles oneway, from the campground to white pass, that would put total distance with the road closer, and the additional ridge traverse closer to 40 miles according to this information. I have'nt picked it appart yet with the topo map.

 

The White River approach described on the same page says its only 14 miles from the trailhead to white pass -- although the bushwack up lightning creek SOUNDS like the better way to go, so the white pass route is somewhat irrelavant. However, looking at the topo map -- http://www.mytopo.com/maps.cfm?mtlat=48.11140&mtlon=-121.11280 --, the traverse from the ridge above lighting creek to the summit (avoiding white pass), and adding up the miles, I came closer to about 32 miles round trip, although some serious shwacking is involved.

 

Just a question to those who have gone the way of the white pass in the past - is that ridge connnecting glacier peak from the white pass trail prety easy, like jogging kinda easy? or is it slow going, mumbeling curses, useing hands on tufts of grass to keep from falling kinda hard?

 

Edited by danhelmstadter

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Dan,

My experience with it about four summers ago (lateish August, minimal if any snow; could hopefully be a little different this season) was that dropping off the ridge from E of White Pass down into the large basin above the headwaters of the Whitechuck River was mixed dirt/rock and somewhat loose and unpleasant for the first 100 or 200 vertical feet, than fairly easy typical alpine travel essentially North towards Glacier peak. There is a fairly distinct 'way trail' leading you in the direction you want to go from White Pass,(ie,. below White Mtn.) which just abruptly ends after approximately 1/2 to 2/3 of a mile. At that point just ascend to the ridge crest, where you will then have to discern the best spot to drop down off the ridge crest. Nothing you can't do though. Go get 'em.

 

 

 

 

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Here's what I learned about approaching via Lightning creek....

 

1) The trail between the turnoff for Boulder Pass and Thunder creek (approx 3 miles) is one step up from terrible. It's there, but is quickly becoming overgrown. Most of it is overgrown from the shin upwards, so you have to trust that your feet are on it, close your eyes, and charge ahead. About a third of it has become a stream so if you don't like to get your feet wet stay away.

 

2) All three stream crossings are easy and manageable, even in May. For the first two I headed down stream from the trail and found easy logs. For the third, see below.

 

3) There IS a trail up Lightning creek! I only know how to get to it via a small schwack, and it's very faint and sometimes hard to follow down low, but the higher you get the easier it becomes. Someone actually had a saw back there because there's a steady trail of cut logs to confirm the trail. And a campsite at about 5000'. I hope I'm not spoiling someone's private getaway :-).

Here how I find it. The mouth of lighning creek fans out into many small streams once it exits the upper valley via a water fall. When we hit the first finger of lightning creek we headed up stream and crossed as soon as we found a good log. Then we made a beeline for the water fall. There are some massive amounts of downed timber that make relatively easy walking. As you near the waterfall (and the convergence of several streams) you'll see a prominent ridge to the west of the falls and about a hundred or so feet up. I'd call it a grass arete. That's where you can be sure to find the trail. We crossed to the west side of lightning creek when we could, and schwacked up steep forest (not too bad) until we hit the trail that traverses back to the arete that you can see from below. From there, hang onto the trail like a dog to his bone. Basically, you climb to the west of a creek that drains into Lightning creek until you can cross at (approx) 5500' From there it's super easy travel up to the Honeycomb glacier. Knowing the trail, it took Monika and I seven hours to get from car to camp at 6000' (4 hours trail, three hours up)

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North Fork Sauk Trail #649: Trailhead at 2100 ft, 35 miles roundtrip to the summit via White Pass, with about 10500 ft total gain. Difficult creek crossing at Red Creek, washed out bridge.

Due to road washout at MP 0.8 on FR 49 at 1500 ft, add 12 miles and about 600 ft of gain, for a grand total of 47 miles and over 11000 ft of gain.

 

For the record, I was just up the sauk trail and the red creek crossing was not difficult, there was a great log jam. The road washout was pretty bad, but I saw someone in a 4x4 pickup truck crush past it. A friend of mine saw a celica at the TH -- apparently it had to be pushed through (over) the washout. After the washout, the road is not bad at all.

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I did Glacier from White Pass last year. It took us a day of walking to get from the car(we hiked up Indian Creek) to the col above Honeycomb glacier...a longish day, but do-able. From there it was about a 4 hour out and back from the Glacier peak summit via Disappointment Peak - class 3 scramble.

 

From White Pass there is a really good climbers trail that eventually dumps you down into moraine-land. You're on your own then.

 

This was in late August. Glaciers were still easily passable. We continued down the Honeycomb Glacier and on to Moth Lake. A great trip!

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Just looking at approximate distances described here -- http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150318/glacier-peak.html

It appears as the n-f-s-r-t #649 (standard route) is only 8.2miles oneway, from the campground to white pass, that would put total distance with the road closer, and the additional ridge traverse closer to 40 miles according to this information. I have'nt picked it appart yet with the topo map.

 

The White River approach described on the same page says its only 14 miles from the trailhead to white pass -- although the bushwack up lightning creek SOUNDS like the better way to go, so the white pass route is somewhat irrelavant. However, looking at the topo map -- http://www.mytopo.com/maps.cfm?mtlat=48.11140&mtlon=-121.11280 --, the traverse from the ridge above lighting creek to the summit (avoiding white pass), and adding up the miles, I came closer to about 32 miles round trip, although some serious shwacking is involved.

 

Dan, are you heading in there soon? I guess Olympus-in-a-day-with-skis wasn't enough torture for you . . .

 

But several of the distances listed on that SummitPost page are just too short. According to the Green Trails maps (which generally have quite accurate distances unless they have an accidental typo), it is 8.2 miles on North Fork Sauk from TH to the PCT junction, but that's still 0.7 away from White Pass, so 8.9 total. As for White River Trail, it's 14.9 miles to the PCT, but 2.3 more miles are needed to reach White Pass for 17.2 total.

 

The page also says "White Pass (~5 miles due south of Glacier Peak Summit)", but that distance is actually 5.9 miles as the crow flies and requires about 7.5 to 8.5 miles of travel on the ground via an efficient route (distance varies depending on exact choice of ridge crossings). So I think the distances that I listed above for those two routes are accurate to within a mile or so.

 

As for Lightning Creek, I think my estimate of 40 miles was too long. I re-checked the distance by drawing routes in Topo, which calculates the distance. It's 9.4 miles from TH to Lightning Creek, 3.0 going straight up along the creek to the 7100 ft gap, and 5.3 more to the summit via Honeycomb-Suiattle-Gerdine Glaciers. So that would about 35-36 miles roundtrip, but it's probably safe to add a half-mile or more each way for zig-zagging on the trail Ryan describes, so call it about 37 miles. I'll edit my post above.

 

And thanks for the detailed info about the Lightning Creek trail, Ryan.

 

 

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PM me if you know someone in D-town who has a big 4x4/motorbike who wants to shuttle our gear up the North Fork Sauk TH! This added help would make this trip much more appealing to my gf!

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I don't post much here, go to summitpost.com on Glacier as others have link you to. The trip reports and Gerdine/Cool Glacier route is mine as is the 2008 trip report. Its a good route, the reasonable one to me. Email if you want my input to specific questions, but I'll be gone early tomarrow for a trip.

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Well, looks like a lightning-sparked fire over the weekend has closed off the shortest south side access routes to Glacier Peak, via White River Trail to Lightning Creek and via North Fork Sauk (or Little Wenatchee) to White Pass:

 

http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/conditions/fire-update.shtml

 

Fire Update - Monday, August 11, 2008 – 10:00 a.m.

 

Currently, there are 13 fires burning in the forest. The weather forecast is for a warming trend returning on Tuesday, and very hot temperatures (possibly 100+ degrees) expected by this weekend.

 

Due to fires burning in remote regions of the Wenatchee River Ranger District, two separate trail and area closures went into effect Sunday, August 10, 2008 for those areas:

. . .

The second area closure is due to the Foam Creek Fire. The closure area is located up the White River drainage north of Lake Wenatchee in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. A trail and area closure is in effect for the White River Trial #1507 from the junction with Boulder Creek Trail #1562 (approximately 3.5 miles above the end of the White River Road ) and extending to White Pass. This closure encompasses all the area within the White River Basin from the river bottom to the canyon headwalls. This closure will not affect popular climbing routes to Glacier Peak through the Red Pass, Glacier Peak Meadows, and White Chuck Glacier areas. However, access over White Pass from the Darrington Ranger District side, via North Fork Sauk Trail, is currently prohibited.

 

These trail and area closures are in place to ensure public safety. Signs are posted at trails leading to these areas advising the public of the current fire situation and area closures.

. . .

 

So the only way to get there from the south is North Fork Sauk to Red Pass to Glacier Peak Meadows (extra loooong and up-down), otherwise from the east via Buck Creek Pass to Triad Creek to an uncertain crossing of the Suiattle River.

 

 

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looks like the south side of Glacier would be pretty smoky now, hopefully the forecasted precip will help to extinguish it.

 

- taken 8-16 from eldo

 

glacier_from_eldo_8-16.JPG

Edited by danhelmstadter

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