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 the mid-1990's. The trip begins with a hike through majestic 700+ year-old trees and culminates on the summit of Washington's most remote volcanic summit.
The North Fork Sauk trail is once again easy to access with recent repair of the access road, which was damaged by flooding. This arduous trip is made more manageable by breaking the trip into 4 days involving good hiking trails, off-trail hiking, and a spectacular finish on the Gerdine and Cool Glaciers. This trip is suitable for strong hikers with no mountaineering experience, but is most popular with returning customers looking to see a seldom visited portion of the Cascades.
Glacier Peak is a guide favorite because it offers a rare opportunity to hike and camp in a wilderness where you are unlikely to run into too many other climbers. The approach to the climb is on good trails for the first 1.5 days and the terrain above offers spectacular scenery.
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 (2100'). Hike to White Pass for night (5904'), joining the Pacific Crest Trail near camp. 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. (8.5 miles, 3800' elevation gain, 6-7 hours)
Glacier Peak Climb Day 2: Traverse on climbers trail above White River and Foam Creek. We eventually descend into Glacier Peak Meadows, traverse the White Chuck Glacier and ascend to the spectacular Glacier Gap Camp (7300') next to the Suiattle Glacier. We aim to be in bed early this night in preparation for an alpine start the next morning. (5.25 miles, 5 hours, 2350' ascent with 835' descent)
Glacier Peak Climb Day 3: Summit via the Gerdine and Cool Glaciers. The climb itself is very moderate and involves hiking on a faint climber's trail as well as climbing beautiful glaciers with a few crevasses to work our way through. After the climb we usually move our camp back to White Pass making the final day easier. (3.8 miles, 4-5 hours up, 2-3 hours down, 3475" of ascent and 300' of descent) If we move down to White Pass this adds an additional 4 hours and about 835' of climbing and 2350' of descending)
Glacier Peak Climb Day 4: Exit to trailhead. (8.5 miles, 3800 of descent, 5 hours)