Glacier Peak is Washington's 5th highest mountain and it holds special significance for the Northwest Mountain School as the mountain we first guided when we started up in 1994. Any climb of Glacier Peak provides a pristine trip into the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Severe flooding in the recent past has made once difficult to reach Glacier Peak feel even more remote.
The route that we are currently using is the approach via the North Fork of the Sauk River trail to the PCT, and then eventually to White Pass. Beyond White Pass we utilize climbers trails to access the White Chuck Glacier and eventually reaching the summit by skirting Disappointment Peak (9755') and climbing via the Cool Glacier to the top.
Most groups will want 5 days to comfortably make the round trip to the summit of Glacier Peak and back, but we have had groups do this in less time. This is a very strenuous trip, but no portion of the trip involves very advanced climbing.
Glacier Peak Climb Day 1: Meet in Darrington, WA for an equipment check, introductions, and group gear packing. Drive to North Fork of Sauk River trailhead (2300'). Hike to White Pass for night (5904'). One feature of any climb of Glacier Peak is the opportunity to hike through some of Washington's most spectacular stands of old growth Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar.
Glacier Peak Climb Day 2: Traverse on climbers trail above White River and Foam Creek, eventually gaining White Chuck Glacier. Ascend this to glacier under Disappointment Peak and camp at around 7850' There are a wide variety of possible camping spots in the areas, so we may choose to camp lower. We aim to be in bed early this night in preparation for an alpine start the next morning.
Glacier Peak Climb Day 3: Summit via the White Chuck, and then eventually the Cool Glacier. The summit day in moderate in nature with short steps of steep climbing to get around various terrain features. Although it is difficult to see Glacier Peak from most roads in WA, the view from the summit stretches from Mt. Baker and Shuksan in the North to Mt. Rainer and Mt. Adams in the south. Far more people have climbed Rainier, Baker, or Adams than Glacier Peak, a thought to savor on this beautiful and remote North Cascades summit. We will likely try to move our camp back in the direction of White Pass at the end of the day in order to facilitate an achievable exit on the last day.
Glacier Peak Climb Day 4: Extra day to accommodate weather, take a rest day before the summit, or train on one of the glaciers.
Glacier Peak Climb Day 5: Exit to trailhead.