John recalls being in a remote mountain village in Sichuan, China in the early 1990's and seeing a poster featuring Mt. Shuksan as viewed from Lake Anne on the wall of a small restaurant. One of Washington's nine-thousanders, when viewed from the north, this may be one of the most photographed mountains in the world, yet few outside the Northwest recognize it as Mt. Shuksan. The Sulphide Glacier provides summit seekers with a relatively easy route to the top, while the North Face and White Salmon Glacier Routes provide much more challenging climbs.
Sulphide Glacier - Mt. Shuksan: This reasonably simple glacier on the south side of Mt. Shuksan is a great place to work on basic glacier skills, or to simply enjoy a multi-day climb of a fun mountain. The hiking approach ends when you gain the Sulphide Glacier, where most parties camp. The summit day is relatively low-angled until the last 600 feet where the pitch increases and you either climb steep snow or 4th class rock up a broad gully to the spectacular summit. The Sulphide glacier has crevasses that are prefect for practicing ice climbing and crevasse rescue.
Fisher Chimneys Route - Mt. Shuksan: This is a notch harder than the standard route on Mt. Shuksan, which is generally regarded as the Sulphide Glacier route. Climbs of Fisher Chimneys start from the North side of the mountain and hike past a beautiful small lake before tackling the complex yet very moderate rock climbing terrain of the Fisher Chimneys. Once above the chimneys we climb over Winnie's slide and then ascend Hell's Highway beofre joining the regiular Sulphide Glacier route to the summit of Shuksan. This is a nice option for those looking to climb Shuksan via a route slightly more technical than the Sulphide.
North Face - Mt. Shuksan: The North Face Mt. Shuksan offers all that the Northwest climber holds dear: a bushwhack approach, 40 to 50° snow and ice climbing, a committing mountain face, and complex route finding. Often used as an AMGA Alpine Guide's exam route, this route is not guided often. The route is within reach for fit climbers that can move quickly on moderately steep snow and ice, and are willing to deal with some long climbing days. The approach generally uses up a day, the meat of the climb is done in a second long day from the base of the route to the summit and then back down to the top of the Fisher Chimneys, and a third day is used for the exit.
White Salmon Glacier - Mt. Shuksan: Initially the White Salmon Glacier Route and the North Face route start with the same bushwhack. Once through this, the two routes split and parties headed to the White Salmon Glacier climb more directly up to the base of the glacier where a bivy is made. The following day involves route finding and walking up the complex White Salmon Glacier with short 1 and 2 pitch sections of snow, rock, and ice climbing as various obstacles such as bergschrunds are overcome. At about 2/3rds height the White Salmon Glacier Route joins Winnies Slide just above the Fisher Chimney's route and you have the option of climbing to the Sulphide Glacier via Hells Highway, or corkscrewing around Shuksan to reach the summit from the east. After getting to the summit, we usually descend via the Fisher Chimneys so that we can retrieve our car from parking near the Mt. Baker ski area.