The most remote of Washington's 5 major volcanoes, Glacier Peak provides a long walk through an old-growth rain forest, vast expanses of subalpine meadows, easy to moderate glacier travel, and a 10,541 foot summit deep in the heart of the North Cascades.
Glacier Peak is the most remote of Washington's 5 major volcanoes. By mountaineering standards it is a relatively easy climb, but the impressive distance and vertical gain has left an impression on many a climber. Glacier Peak provides a long walk through an old-growth rain forest, vast expanses of subalpine meadows, easy to moderate glacier travel, and a 10,541 foot summit deep in the heart of the North Cascades. All in all, it is a wonderful and soulful experience in a relatively remote section of Washington's North Cascades and is a perfect objective for the novice, but fit hiker who wants to get a taste of mountaineering.
Overall difficulty: moderate
Mountaineering skills: Easy. No prior mountaineering skills required. Experience hiking for long days with a heavy pack and overnight backpacking strongly encouraged.
Fitness Level: Strenuous. You must be able to carry a heavy pack for multiple days in a row for up to 8 hours at a time over 4500 feet of vertical elevation gain.
Day 1: We will meet at the Darrington Ranger Station in Darrington, Washington. After introductions and a gear check we will proceed to the North Fork Sauk Trailhead (2,100’). This drive still takes over an hour, but no worries; there are good espresso stands in Darrington. We ascend up to White Pass at 5900 feet, then under the southeast slopes of White Mountain, and finally to our scenic camp near a little tarn at around 6400 feet. It is a beautiful, but strenuous day with an elevation gain of almost 5000 feet and full packs.
Day 2. This day is dedicated as a quasi rest and training day. After a mellow start to the day, we will spend some time honing our cramponing and self arrest skills and enjoying our beautiful surroundings. Of course, if the weather forecast indicates that this might be the best summit day, we might just go for it.
Day 3. An early start is needed to put us in the right places at the right times. In contrast to the approach day, our summit day has an alpine flavor from start to finish. We will move through mellow terrain past the White Chuck and briefly onto the Suiattle Glacier before finally reaching the summit slopes of the Cool Glacier. The summit stands at 10541 feet. We will spend the night back at the same camp.
Day 4. We will hike back out early enough to enjoy a good early dinner in Darrington before we part ways.
Although tipping is not a requirement, it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or a flat amount that you are comfortable with.