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mfang

Shuksan North Face advice

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My first post here, but have lurked on the forums and trip reports for beta. This site is a great resource!

 

I would like some advice on a solo trip to the North face of Shuksan in early-mid August. I live in CA and have not climbed much in the Cascades and am unfamiliar with the range's conditions/objective hazards. I have done the U Notch couloir of North Palisade in the Sierra but don't know if the two are comparable in terms of steepness, snow quality, and commitment. I picked August hoping that crevasses will be in open sight, the snow will be consolidated enough to require only crampons and ice ax (though I do have tools), and there will not be exposed ice. Would this be accurate given the past winter/spring in the Cascades?

 

I appreciate any help, including suggestions to scrap this idea altogether and try an easier snow route on another mountain!

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I suspect there will be exposed ice on the North Face in August, especially this year. I would definitely bring a pair of tools. I fell into a hidden slot on the NF, not sure what month that was though. The approach if done properly is not bad, if you botch it, well, expect some misery. The descent down the Fisher Chimneys is no gimme as far as descent routes go.

 

NF Shuksan is a prototypical Cascades climb, it is not the technical aspect that is the hard part, it is the whole ball of wax. I would not recommend it as a first climb in the range.

 

A climb in the same vicinity that I think you would dig is the Ruth-Icy Traverse. There are crevasses though, but I think you kind of have to take extra effort to fall into them.

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North Face is already sadly melted out. Final stretch is already discontinuous and lord knows if it will even exist in August. (North Face of North Twin is also snow free, not all that long ago it was a permamant snowfield).

 

Not a great year to climb the classic snow/ice routes of the range.

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Send me a PM with your email address, I might have a picture of the NF of Shuksan taken from the Winchester lookout that will give you an idea of current conditions. I agree that I would not recommend that as the first climb in the Cascades.

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Thanks for the info - I'll check out the Ruth-Icy traverse! I'm looking to get more experience on snow and ice (AI2 - 3) but with the drought the window is very narrow in CA. My brother works in Portland so when I visit him it's hard to resist a diversion to the Cascades =)

Edited by mfang

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Ruth-Icy is not a technical ice climb, more of a very scenic high alpine tour/glacier traverse with a bit of rock climbing thrown in to summit Icy Peak.

 

I suspect if NF Shuksan is already melted out then most of the techy alpine ice routes you would be potentially interested in will also be out of shape by August.

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Bummer, next year then!

 

Aside from Shuksan NF, I've been looking at these:

South Early Winters Spire – SW couloir

Eldorado Peak - E ridge

Mt Buckner - NF

Mt Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier

 

What do you think of these for "easier" technical solos?

Edited by mfang

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Bummer, next year then!

 

Aside from Shuksan NF, I've been looking at these:

South Early Winters Spire – SW couloir

Eldorado Peak - E ridge

Mt Buckner - NF

Mt Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier

 

 

South Early Winters Spire - SW Couloir will definitely be out, like just a crappy, loose, rocky gulley.

 

Eldorado - E Ridge will be certainly be doable and is scenic but not technical. Similar in difficulty to Ruth-Icy.

 

NF Buckner - NF. Likely out by mid August this year and you would have to cross the Boston Glacier which is a big, active, crevassed glacier.

 

Mt Sutart - Ice Cliff Glacier. I suspect it will be out of condition by August. A bergschrund often forms that spans the entire width of the glacier and the gulley exit will likely be dry (loose, crappy rock).

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That looks fun! I'll definitely post back if I can make it happen. This may be just the right thing, on a nice peak too

Edited by mfang

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I really didn't mean to be a buzz kill, I'm happy I came up with one quite good possibility.

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No way, thanks so much for your help! Obviously not your fault that all the routes are out this year - we can only hope for a better winter next year =)

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Was just up there last weekend, and the only bare ice is small zone just above the bergschrund. The majority of the face is still a steep-ish snow climb.

 

And the NF of Buckner certainly looked out of condition from our view at Klawatti Col.

Edited by chris

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Thanks for the update, unfortunately I can't make it until August. I'll check back in a month and see how things look!

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