Over 4 days we will ski tour through a beautiful old-growth forest up into a vast expanse of subalpine meadows, climb to the summit of this broad stratovolcano in the heart of the North Cascades wilderness, then enjoy a memorable ski descent all the way back to camp.
This beautiful and remote summit is a skiers paradise. It is the most remote of the 5 major volcanoes in Washington. For those who would rather tour across wolverine tracks than other human tracks, this is your volcano. Due to the added speed of a ski descent there is plenty of time to enjoy the skiing, and you have a contingency day in case of poor weather.
Overall difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Skills required: Advanced skiing ability and prior ski touring experience required. You should be able to ski black diamond ski slopes at ski areas in just about any condition, and be able to ski ungroomed slopes of intermediate difficulty without any hesitation. You should have a good amount of ski touring experience and have experience moving through the landscape in a variety of snow conditions ranging from deep to frozen snow. You should be able to complete transitions from touring to skiing or boot packing with ease and good efficiency.
Fitness: Very good physical fitness required; you should be able to hike or climb for 5 to 6 hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 lbs. and ascend 3,000 to 4,000 feet of vertical gain per day for 2 to 3 consecutive days.
Day 1: Meet in Darrington and drive together up the Mountain Loop Highway. The low elevation of the trailhead usually allows easy access to the North Fork Sauk River trail. After 5 miles of touring over rolling terrain through old growth forest you will pass the Mackinaw Shelter at 2,960 feet and begin climbing Northeast. At about 4,600 feet you reach the bottom of a large slide path and start skinning up steep terrain to the col west of White Mountain as 6,620 feet. Now you have rewarding alpine views into White Chuck Basin with Glacier Peak above. You will descend just over 1,000 feet then climb again to a great camp at 6,250 feet.
Days 2-3: These 2 days allow you to wait out a weather system if necessary, take advantage of the amazing ski terrain for an extra day, and go for the summit! On summit day, after you skin up to 7,300 feet you will ski down the Suiattle Glacier a few hundred feet, then ascend the Gerdine Glacier to the col east of Disappointment Peak at 9,150 feet. From here you will traverse the Cool Glacier to a saddle on the south ridge and finally to the true summit at 10,541 feet. Summit day will be approximately 9 hours.
Day 4: Sleep in if you want, pack up, and begin the enjoyable ski down and out to the trailhead.
Snow Travel Equipment