Friday, July 17, 2009

Shuksan Summit Climbs Offered

Mount Shuksan is one of the most beautiful mountains on the planet. The peak presents all of the most spectacular features that an alpine environment can offer - steep walls, hanging glaciers, heathered arms, and alpine tarns. Climbers from around the world look at this striking non-volcanic peak and say one thing, "I have to climb that!"

The Dramatic Nooksack Cirque

Mount Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains in the world, and for a very good reason. The mountain is complex. Mount Shuksan is comprised of seven glaciers, four major faces and five dramatic ridges. Awe-inspiring icefalls and ice cliffs tower above open cliffbands, while blue-tinted glacier snake down between each of the major ridgelines. This is an utterly spectacular mountain.

The American Alpine Institute has been offering guided ascents of Mount Shuksan for over thirty years. Indeed, many of our current and former guides hold first ascents of new summer lines on the mountain as well as first winter ascents of obscure parts of the peak. In other words, our staff knows the mountain very well.

A Climber Approaching the Summit
Photo by Joseph Anderson

In all the time that we have been running trips to Mount Shuksan, we have never run group summit climbs open to the public. All of our guided ascents have taken place in classes or on private trips. This year we are proud to present group summit climbs of Mount Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier.

The Sulphide Glacier offers an ascent within the grasp of most climbers, but this is no "tourist route." Different climbing problems must be overcome at different periods during the season, and there are always a variety of challenge on both rock and ice.

On this three-day summit climb, our approach will take us to a beautiful camp at the foot of the glacier. On the second day, we will review the skills needed to climb the mountain and then on third day we will work our way to the summit. Summit day on this particular mountain requires one to ascend a moderate glacier to stunning summit pyramid. Depending on the time of year, the summit may be ascended via a short steep snow couloir or by a low-fifth class rock scrambling.

Mount Shuksan at Dawn
Photo by Ben Traxler

Though the mountain is imposing, beginner and intermediate climbers often climb the Sulphide route. On our skills day, we will review the basics of glacier travel and self-arrest, and introduce the skills of route finding and hazard evaluation. For those climbers who have previous glacier experience, we will use the skills time to review and advance the techniques that you employ in glacier climbing and self-rescue.

Mount Shuksan is arguably one of the coolest mountains out there. Images of it grace nearly every Northwest coffee table book and every Northwest calender. Join us for an ascent so that your feet might grace the mountain's summit...!

Jason D. Martin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That photo is of sunset, not dawn. Notice it is the west side of Shuksan that is illuminated...