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[TR] Mount Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys 7/17/2015

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Trip: Mount Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys


Date: 7/17/2015


Trip Report:

We had a great time up on Mount Shuksan and the Fisher Chimneys route on Friday and Saturday. This was our first time up the Fisher Chimneys (previously climbed via the Sulphide) and we really enjoyed it. Lots of fun scrambling on this route!


Brief summary of route conditions:

Overall the route is in good shape; however, it will be interesting to see how the Upper Curtis glacier looks in a few weeks. Currently one snow bridge remains at the toe of the glacier that provides the only route up onto the glacier. Once that opens up the route may be out for the season. A guide we talked to mentioned the glacier doesn't usually look like that until September. Other than that, everything else was great. Chimneys and summit pyramid gully are snow free. Bivy sites open above and below Winnies Slide, as well as running water at both camps.


Trip Details:

-Day 1

With a excellent weather forecast for the weekend we were excited to try out the Fisher Chimneys route. Our last trip up Shuksan (Sulphide route) was in the clouds with zero views so this would be a good change. Our plan was to get up above the chimneys on Friday, camp, and then summit before heading home on Saturday.


We were on the Lake Ann trail by about noon on Friday and it wasn't long before we passed the lake and were heading up the switchbacks to the entrance of the chimneys. From reading previous reports and gathering route info, it seemed picking the right entrance for the chimneys is tricky. Our problem turned out to be before that.



Mt. Baker from Lake Ann trail



Shuksan, the chimneys, uppper/lower Curtis, and Hell's Highway




Baker Lake



Lower Curtis Glacier



Mt. Baker and Lake Ann


The main Lake Ann trail ended but the climbers trail continued with cairns every so often. Eventually we hit a washout in the trail and couldn't quite figure out where to go next: up through a little gully that looked okay, or continue traversing up closer to the Lower Curtis. We chose the latter which turns out is not the preferred way to go. We did see a couple cairns so we weren't the only ones that took that route. Anyways, after some traversing we started to head up to what looked like the start of the Chimneys. Luckily everything panned out and we found the entrance, which included the big boulder with white painted arrow.



On the chimneys


We had no issues navigating the chimneys and it took us just under an hour to scramble up through the class 3 rock to the first camp. There we met up with a group of 7 that arrived a bit before us. We had also passed a guided group of two coming up the chimneys. So, there were plenty of spots to camp but we decided to continue since I read about some bivy site "above Winnies Slide".


Here is where the confusion began. We climbed the first steep snow after the first camp and found more bivy sites, just at the base of the Upper Curtis glacier (with plenty of running water). With all the beta I got on the route, it should have obvious that we just climbed Winnies Slide and those were in fact the bivy sites, but we second guess it mainly because the USGS map mislabeled where Winnies Slide is. The map says Winnies Slide is on the north side of the Upper Curtis. That made me think the bivy sites were on the ridge just north of the Upper Curtis, so that is the way we headed.



Above the chimneys


We donned our glacier gear and hopped onto the Upper Curtis. The glacier was pretty broken up and heading directly northeast to the ridge wasn't going to happen because of the crevasses. Instead, we took the only route we saw which meandered up through the middle of the glacier. We were the first ones up on the glacier for the weekend since we didn't see any tracks. Once on top of the glacier it was a straight shot to the ridge. We found a lone and tiny bivy site there. Still not convinced we were in the right spot, we figured it was good enough and set up camp anyways. We weren't about to go back down!


We made it to camp by about 7pm. The worst part was that there was no running water, so we had to melt snow. Other than that, it was a good spot with nice views all around.






Mt. Baker sunset



Mt. Baker sunset



Pink glacier





-Day 2

We slept in and after a quick breakfast, we were back on the glacier by 630am. A light layer of clouds rolled in overnight and it was a bit breezy, but we couldn't complain. It was a quick shot over the glacier and up Hell's Highway without any issues. We saw some fresh tracks in front of us: the guided party. No sign of the large group.



Near the top of Hell's Highway



North cascades



Glacier Peak



The Sulphide looked good and we had a pretty direct line up to the summit pyramid where we dropped our crampons and ax before heading up the main gully. By this time there was a couple parties in the gully and one on the ridge.



Almost to the summit pyramid


We met up with the guide at the base of the summit pyramid. He mentioned the large group left before he did and ended up bailing after not being able to navigate the Upper Curtis. It was early (3am I think he said), so maybe they didn't see our tracks? The guide mentioned the Upper Curtis doesn't usually look this bad until September and he wouldn't be surprised if the route is out in a few weeks.


We didn't get involved in any traffic jams and made the quick scramble up the snow free gully. We were on the summit by 8:45a, just over 2 hours from leaving the camp. A bit windy on the top so we didn't stay long, but had enough time to soak in the views.



View from the summit


We kept the rope stowed and downclimbed the gully, mainly because rappelling with the short glacier rope we brought for the two of us probably would have been more trouble that it was worth.


Once back on the glacier it was pretty uneventful going back down to camp and heading back to the top of the chimneys. By that time clouds were burning off and the sun was coming out. It was going to be a warm day.



Heading down the Upper Curtis Glacier



Looking back up the Upper Curtis



Coming down the chimneys


Like the gully, we opted to downclimb the chimneys. There are plenty of rap stations if you want to use them, though. When we hit the bottom of the chimneys, we followed the correct route this time back to Lake Ann. After a quick stop at the lake for some water and to dip our feet, we were back on the (now very warm) trail to the car.



Entrance to Chimneys (center of image)


Since we both like scrambling up rock, this route was pretty fun. Would definitely do it again, but this time we would stay above the actual Winnies Slide. While our makeshift high camp saved us a little time on summit day, the lack of running water made it much less desirable.



Our route. Green - Ascent, Magenta - Descent. You can see where we dropped down before getting to the chimneys entrance.


Our times:

4hr30m from car to top of chimneys (base of Winnies Slide)

2hr from top of chimneys to our high camp

2hr15m from high camp to summit

7hr from summit to car (with 30m stop at Lake Ann)


Since I didn't see any GPS data anywhere for the route, here are some waypoints:


Chimneys Entrance: N48° 49' 53.3" W121° 37' 26.0"

Camp 1 (below Winnies Slide): N48° 49' 54.4" W121° 37' 02.8"

Camp 2 (above Winnies Slide): N48° 49' 52.7" W121° 36' 56.4"


I tried to attach my GPS data, but it seems I cannot attach .GPX files anymore. I'll try to find an alternative.


Gear Notes:

Standard glacier gear. We climbed the gully of the summit pyramid so we did not need any rock pro.

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Thanks for the nice trip report. We climbed the day after you, camping above Winnies Slide on Saturday and summiting on Sunday. I agree with your assessment of the route conditions. It's good now but it may not last much longer.


The USGS map does have Winnies slide in the wrong place. It also disagrees with Beckey about the location of The Hourglass. And what's labeled "Fisher Chimney" isn't.


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Thanks for the nice trip report. We climbed the day after you, camping above Winnies Slide on Saturday and summiting on Sunday. I agree with your assessment of the route conditions. It's good now but it may not last much longer.


The USGS map does have Winnies slide in the wrong place. It also disagrees with Beckey about the location of The Hourglass. And what's labeled "Fisher Chimney" isn't.


Great weekend for it, huh? How was the weather for you on Sunday morning for the summit? I wasn't expecting the cloud cover on Saturday morning but at least we still had some views...and it did keep us cool on the way down. It was sure getting hot by the time we got back to the car.


I too noticed some inconsistencies with the labeling of The Hourglass and Fisher Chimney between the maps and info I found online.

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