Climbing Mount Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier is a special experience. The approach consists of a hike through old growth forest and a short ascent up a snowfield to the spectacular camp on the Sulphide Glacier. The summit days consists of a mellow glacier climb to the 800 foot summit pyramid. Here the nature of the climb changes radically and becomes a steep snow climb in early season or an easy, but engaging rock scramble in 4th and easy 5th class terrain in the later season. Either way you will be belayed by our experienced guides on the way up with some rappelling on the way down. A spectacular way to experience the rugged cascades on one of the most photographed mountains in North America.
Mt. Shuksan is an iconic peak of the North Cascades and boasts some of the most impressive icefalls, faces and towers this side of Alaska. The mountain combines world class scenery with a seemingly endless variety of ski routes from introductory ski mountaineering tours to extreme descents and everything in between. The Sulphide Glacier provides a little bit of everything from beautiful old growth forests to a mellow glacier climb to a rugged and well protected alpine rock climb.
Overall Difficulty: moderate
Skills: 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: The trip will begin from the Mount Shuksan trailhead at approximately 2,500 feet elevation. You will climb through forest then subalpine to the lower reaches of the Sulphide Glacier at about 5,000-6,000 feet in elevation where you will establish camp.
Day 2: This day is an "active rest day," as you will be practicing basic mountaineering techniques required for the summit bid including crampon technique, ice axe self-arrest, rope travel skills, and efficient movement on snow and rock.
Day 3: The summit bid. You will likely wake up at some time in the middle of the night or very early morning, eat a quick breakfast, and get ready to climb. Often we reach the base of the summit pyramid as daylight breaks, and you are rewarded with spectacular views of Mount Baker and the surrounding peaks of the North Cascades. The summit pyramid presents about 800 feet climbing, sometimes steep snow, sometimes bare rock, and sometimes a little bit of both. After enjoying the satisfaction of a summit (9131 feet) and the view at the top you will descend to camp, pack up, and head all the way down and out to the trailhead. Note: sometimes, depending on conditions, weather, and the group's ability and skill level, the summit bid can occur on the second day. This allows for a night in camp after the summit bid and just a 7 mile hike out on the third day.
No, you are responsible for your own food. We are happy to provide suggestions, though!
Try to fit your gear into a 50 liter pack.
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 trip cost or a flat amount that you are comfortable with.