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AlpineK

[TR] Shuksan - North Face Descent 5/26/2012

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Trip: Shuksan - North Face Descent

 

Date: 5/26/2012

 

Trip Report:

The North Face of Shuksan stands out from the Mount Baker ski area. There are lots of lines to ski, but this route seemed within my comfort level; at least judging by pictures I've seen. It wasn't very hard to con friends into putting it on the must do list.

 

Jeff, Christian and I decided to give it a shot on April 21. Nobody in our group had climbed the face, so we decided to climb it from the bottom so we viewed the terrain before skiing. We got an early start from the ski area with lots of new snow

 

We found extreme conditions before the base of the route

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3048/medium/SEL3-2012-04-21_Partial-NF-.jpg[/img]

 

Despite that we got onto the face. We skinned until the slope steepened then climbed.

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3048/medium/SEL20-2012-04-21_Partial-NF.jpg[/img]

 

Post holing in thigh deep snow takes it out of you. We stopped climbing about two thirds of the way up the route and switched to downhill mode.

 

The downhill part was fantastic

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3048/medium/SEL32-2012-04-21_Partial-NF.jpg[/img]

 

We had a great ski, but close only counts with horse shoes and hand grenades so we had to return.

 

Jeff and I came back on April 29. The forecast sounded iffy. It rained at our camp site overnight, but slacked off in the morning. We drove to the parking lot and stared at the mountain for a few minutes. Is it going to break? Hmmm. After sitting there for a bit we figured we drove all this way so we might as well go for a ski.

 

This time we decided to ditch face climbing and ascend the White Salmon then traverse the Hanging glacier

 

The upper mountain kept providing hints of views

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3049/medium/1W-Ice_Cliff_Glacier_Panora.jpg[/img]

 

The clouds kept moving back in.

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3049/medium/3W-2012-04-29_Hanging_Cloud.jpg[/img]

 

Eventually we got close to the entrance point for the route. Clouds were still swirling

 

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3049/medium/9W-2012-04-29_Hanging_Cloud.jpg[/img]

 

Since we had not done a complete ascent of the route Jeff and I kept guessing at the right place to start skiing. "Why don't we go up there and look down." ... "This can't be right all I see is a rocky drop off with clouds." ... Eventually we decided to play it safe and ski down our uptrack. The ski down was entertaining since we kept kicking off point release slides but not quite what we wanted.

 

Round three started with me staring at NOAA forecasts. We finely found the forecast we were looking for and left town early on the 26th.

 

The weather looked solid when we arrived.

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W1--2012-05-26_N_Face-Suces.jpg[/img]

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W2--2012-05-26_N_Face-Suces.jpg[/img]

 

Somewhere below Whinnies slide we heard a loud boom sound. Plane breaking the sound barrier or?

 

We got nice view of real extreme skiing

 

Canadian Boarder Peak

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W7--2012-05-26_N_Face-Suces.jpg[/img]

 

We were pretty sure of the drop in point but there was some hesitance. Eventually there was Price Lake. We were at the spot.

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W9-2012-05-26_N_Face-Sucess.jpg[/img]

 

We found a skim of ice on the top layer of snow, but overall the snow up high was good

 

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W10-2012-05-26_N_Face-Suces.jpg[/img]

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W11-2012-05-26_N_Face-Suces.jpg[/img]

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W12-2012-05-26_N_Face-Suces.jpg[/img]

 

The snow was thick lower down where you traverse under cliffs to the notch marking the start of the North Face route. We also found some exciting runnels from previous slides. In the end we were at the notch with easier skiing below.

 

On the way out we checked out some Freshiez below the Hanging Glacier

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W13-2012-05-26-Ice-Cliff-Av.jpg[/img]

 

I guess that was the sonic boom sound we heard earlier.

 

On the way out we saw evidence of snow slides a couple hundred yards from Chair-8 at the ski area.

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W16-2012-05-26-Ski-Area-Deb.jpg[/img]

 

We also got a good view of an avy in training on the Hanging Glacier

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/3052/medium/W17--2012-05-26_N_Face-Suce.jpg[/img]

 

It's nice to strike that from the must do list. The third time was the charm. The route is great and worth repeating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approach Notes:

White Salmon to Hanging Glacier. The point where you change from the Hanging Glacier to the North Face isn't obvious when you are there. You can see it from the ski area, so stare at it before leaving and lock it into short term memory.

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Nice work! We just missed you as we were coming around the circumnavigation. I think you talked to a portion of our party that elected to hang back. We heard that boom too, it was loud, loud, loud!

 

I will try and post up a TR in the next couple of days....

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