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Glacier Peak — Sep 01, 2012 — onehikeaweek
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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Flickr: http://bit.ly/glacier-peak This trip was put out at the last minute but I just had to get...
This trip was put out at the last minute but I just had to get on it. The odds of climbing Glacier Peak on my own outside of the Mountaineers would be pretty slim. I don't remember Labor Day weekend being nice and gorgeous, sunny the entire time we were there.
The peak was socked in when we arrived at the base of it, but soon the clouds started to dissipate and we were greeted with views all around at the summit.
Great trip with everyone on board, looking forward to next summer.
North Fork Sauk River, North Fork Sauk Falls, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section K - Stevens Pass - East to Rainy Pass, Glacier Peak — Aug 17, 2010 — climber729
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Glacier Peak Trip, Aug 17-21, 2010 Glacier Peak, at 10,541 ft. is located in the Cascades, basic...
Glacier Peak Trip, Aug 17-21, 2010
Glacier Peak, at 10,541 ft. is located in the Cascades, basically between Granite Falls to the West, and Stehekin, to the East, is the last of the Washington State volcanic peaks that my climbing partner, Al, and I have yet to climb. We had planned on climbing this peak two years ago but due to Forest Service roads being closed because of washouts, we had changed to Mt. Logan. Mt. Logan is to the North of Glacier Peak. It took us two years to “capture” Logan so this year we planned to climb Glacier Peak. We went in with Jeff, who was our guide for our second attempt of Mt. Logan.
Our plan was to do it June 22 but due to the long, cold, and wet spring we had, the snow level was way too low for us to attempt it. Therefore, we elected to do it on our alternate date in August, which, had we climbed Glacier in June, we would have tried for Mt. Rainier in August.
Because of continuing road closures, the way into Glacier is a long hike. Our original plan was to go in via a “high” route, up to and along Lost Ridge, a 3,000 ft. climb right from the trailhead, back down across the Suiattle River Valley, and then back up to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The alternate was a “low” route, up the North Fork of the Sauk River, and then climb 2,500 ft. to the PCT.
Day 1 - We left the house at 9 AM on Tuesday morning for Darrington to check in with the Ranger Station there on the latest conditions and register for the climb. Once there, we were informed that the road, the Mountain Loop Highway, was closed due to construction between Darrington and where we planning on driving to the trailhead, Forest Service Road 49. We were told that we had to go back around to Granite Falls and then back up to the southern end of the Mountain Loop Highway to the trail head, a 50 plus mile detour. Needless to say, this didn’t sit very well with us as the Friday before, Jeff had called the Forest Service and checked the website for construction and the site indicated that the northern part of the road, the section we wanted to use, would be open and the southern part would be closed. Apparently the contractor changed his mind over the weekend as to which part he would be working on with very little advanced notice.
After getting sort of lost, missing a turn, and stopping for beer in Granite Falls, it was well past noon by the time we were on the Mountain Loop Highway. For lunch, we stopped at the picnic area and the trail leading to the Ice Caves for lunch. As time was getting late in the day, it was decided that we should take the low route, Trail #649, North Fork Sauk River Trail. As it was 85 degrees outside, the trail would be in the shade keeping us cooler and there would be a nice campsite about five miles in. It would then leave the steep 2,500 ft. climb, up to the PCT for the next day, in the cooler morning, as the trail would be mostly on an exposed hillside. Looking back, this was a very good decision based on the weather, our conditioning and viewing the "high" trail from above on the PCT.
We finally got to the trailhead, about 3 PM. Being mid-week, there were a surprising number of cars in the parking lot. The bugs were pretty relentless and we had to apply “bug juice” to keep them at bay as we unpacked the car. We had planned a six day trip but as we were going in via the low route, which should be a bit shorter, we decided to do it in five days. We left one day’s worth of food and snacks in the car. After distributing the common gear, fuel, and food between the three of us, we were ready to leave by 3:45 PM.
The trip in was uneventful. The trail was in the forest, large cedar trees all around, and followed the river. We crossed several small streams feeding the river including a rather large one with a nice log bridge over it.
We arrived at our campsite about 6:30 PM. It was about a 750 ft. gain in elevation from the trailhead. There was one site already occupied by a single 65 year old woman, Mary. She comes out every year by herself to hike in this general area. She really didn’t look like someone who should be out by herself.
Dinner was by “Chef Jeff”. After our Mt. Logan trip last year, we had encouraged Jeff to develop a “good” meal menu for his trips. Over the past year he had been working on meals, that he could make up from foods he dried in his dehydrator and then vacuum packed. After a mocha, hot chocolate and coffee, and bullion for a soup, tonight’s meal was “mac and cheese with ham and peas”. It was “presented” well, looked good and tasted good.
Day 2 - We were up at 7 AM and had hot chocolate and oatmeal for breakfast. We were ready to go by 8:45 AM. Almost immediately, the trail began to get steeper. For the next three hours we were doing one switchback after another, initially the trail was in the woods but after about a half hour, we began to breakout onto exposed hillside, in and out of trees, and then totally exposed. We finally reached the PCT about noon after a 2,500 ft. elevation gain. One plan was to go in via White Pass on a hiker’s trail, that was to our right about a half mile, or in via Red Pass, that was about 1.5 miles and a 300 ft. gain in elevation, up the PCT to our left. Not sure why, but Jeff decided to go via Red Pass. We got to Red Pass about 1 PM and had lunch. This was our first sighting of Glacier Peak.
After an hour break, we headed back down the other side of Red Pass through large fields (hillsides) of flowers and streams cascading down. After about a 900 ft. loss in elevation, we struck out cross-country across lots of talus, through heather and flowers. We climbed a 400 ft. hill and came to a nice basin below us, more like a large delta with streams coming down from the hillsides above. We dropped down and crossed this basin, climbed another 400 ft. hill to a knoll with a very nice grass patch surrounded by heather and a few trees. It had a great view of cascading waterfalls and a stream for water. A perfect place for our Day 2 campsite. We are at about 5,900 ft. elevation.
We arrived here about 4:30 PM giving us time to relax before dinner. Today’s “mileage” was about 6.5 miles and 3,500 ft of elevation gain. The plan for the next day would be for an “easy” day going about 3 miles, climbing about 1,500 ft. This would leave us about 3 miles and 3,500 ft elevation for summit day. Tonight’s meal salsa chicken and rice with Frito crumbs for a topping.
Day 3 - Today is to be an easy day. We got up at 8 AM, had hot chocolate and granola for breakfast. It was clear when we got up but by about 9:30 AM, clouds had filled all the valleys, including the one we were in. We were underway by 10 AM. Up a steep little 100 ft. or so hill next to a stream that is the outlet for a shallow lake in a large flat basin above us. Gaining the basin, we were looking at a lot of talus to cross. The scenery was beautiful with all the rock and snowfields and mountains in the background. By now the clouds had dissipated.
The large basin we were in was, at one time, the bottom of the White Chuck Glacier. Most of that glacier and accompanying snowfields is almost all melted now leaving these large talus slopes and several lakes and tarns in the basin. Our path took us to the right of the small tarn, across the snowfield and the up and to the right of the large mound of rock seen here in the photo. Our goal is a ridge between the White Chuck Glacier and the Suiattle Glacier.
Our Day 3 campsite is on a rocky ridge at about 7,300 ft. elevation between what remains of the White Chuck Glacier and the Suiattle Glacier on the east side which is mostly there yet. The campsite is partially protected by a low rock wall from the wind that constantly blows across the ridge. Dinner was au gratin potatoes with ham and peas.
Day 4 – This is summit day. No one slept during the night. The wind picked up in strength after dark and the tent would just shake, shudder and flap all night. At times it seems as if the tent would just lift up and blow away. We got up at 3:30 AM and after a cup of hot chocolate and an energy bar, we were off. I was dressed kind of warm, long underwear bottoms, long nylon hiking pants, short sleeve shirt, a long sleeve light weight nylon shirt and my light weight Gortex rain jacket with a “neckup” pulled over my head under my helmet. Crampons were worn, as the snowfield we had to climb just above the campsite was hard. While getting ready, we looked up and saw the brightly shinning space station crossing the night sky. There were a lot of stars, but nothing like what we’ve seen in the Southern hemisphere (Africa, Ecuador, etc).
We left camp about 4:40 AM using headlights to help light the way. Up and over the snowfield just above our campsite. Walking on the hard snow with crampons was easy so Jeff elected to stay on the snow as much as possible instead of taking a slightly higher route often along a rocky ridge. It began to get light shortly after we started and first light was about 5 AM. Early light on the mountain tops was really beautiful.
We continued up mostly shallow or moderate slopes on snowfields. Some rock outcroppings dotted the snowfields. As we approached Disappointment Peak, we had to traverse a moderately steep snowfield such that it put pressure, and pain, on the right side of my foot just below the toe area. We had to stop and put padding around the area that was causing the pressure. After that, the pressure was reduced sufficiently that I was able to continue without much trouble. And, we changed direction such that I wasn’t putting pressure on that side of the foot. It didn’t bother me for the rest of the trip.
As the morning developed, we were still on the lower slopes, below Disappointment Peak. The snow remained hard and the walking was easy though it seemed like the snowfields were endless. You would just crest on ridge or go around a rock outcropping and there were still more snowfields ahead. Our path took us around the east side of Disappointment Peak, up through a saddle of what appeared to be a rocky ridge from below. Over this ridge, at about 8,500 ft., would put us on the Cool Glacier that we would then follow around the north side of Disappointment Peak.
As we approached the ridge, we could see crevasses along our path and we would have to find a way over them to get to the Cool Glacier.
Prior to ascending the ridge we took a break. We left our hiking poles near a rock outcropping and roped up. From here on we would only be using an ice axe.
In a short time we were up to the top of the ridge where two glaciers met. Crossing the crevasse field wasn’t too bad; there were “bridges” between or over the crevasses. However, one had to be careful so you didn’t slip. When crossing, the rope to the other climbers was kept relatively taunt, not tight enough to impede your progress, but tight enough such that if you did slip or fall, you wouldn’t go very far. No one fell and the crossing was made without incident.
We were now on the Cool Glacier. The slope was getting steeper as we approached the pumice ridge that we will have to climb. The pumice ridge will lead us to the base of the last pitch below the summit. The ridge was rocky, mostly loose sand and small rock type material, we kept our crampons on as the pumice was so loose you would take a step and then slide back half a step. The crampons helped retain some traction. This was a long haul, about a 400 ft. elevation gain. Once at the top of the ridge, we took a break. From here we could easily watch two climbers starting up the ridge below us. We had seen them off and on for most of the day. When we left our campsite in the early morning, we could see their lights way below us.
After a short break, we traversed across the bottom of the last snowfield that would lead us to the summit. Going up that last pitch was slow as it was fairly steep. What helped was that there were many steps from other climbers so you did not have to make your own steps. This was about a 300 ft. or so elevation gain. We reached the summit at 10:50 AM, close to a six hour climb. We took several pictures and broke out the beer. Carrying a beer to the summit of the mountain has become kind of a “thing” with us. Usually we drink it at the top but today we decided not to and keep it for lunch lower down.
While we were on top, two young climbers summited shortly after we did. We had been watching them all morning, slowly catching up to us. They were taking the higher route up, mostly along the rocky ridges whereas we stayed down on the snowfields. They were the only other climbers we saw.
After some equipment checks we headed back down about 11:30 AM having stayed on top for about 40 minutes. Again, heading down we could use the steps made by us and the other climbers. Al was in the lead so Jeff could be in the back and be better able to arrest us easier if either of us slipped. Again, the rope was to be kept relative tight to minimize the distance one could slide before coming tight on the climber above.
We went down the snowfield without incident and down the pumice ridge where we stopped for lunch and beer.
After lunch, we continued down, rounding the east side of Disappointment Peak and across the crevasse field. We then mostly followed just below the rocky ridges the young climbers came up staying above the track we came up on. After we had gone down a while I asked Jeff where did we leave our poles? He was really surprised and exclaimed in a rather loud voce, “They are up the hill above us and we aren’t going back to get them”. It was obvious that he was very unhappy with himself not to mention that I was pissed though I didn’t say anything. We had left both my poles and his when we roped up and changed to just using our ice axe. Al had put his poles on his pack so he had his with him. I was waiting for an apology but none came then or during the rest of the trip.
We stopped for a break and the two young climbers came by as they had stayed up on the summit after we had left. They had come down the path we had used to go up and had found Jeff’s poles but not mine even though they were close by his. They gave Jeff his poles back and he let me use them, as I needed them more than he did. By this time we were getting pretty warm as the sun was up and reflecting off the snow. The snow was softened up now so we removed our crampons, and I stripped off my long underwear and took of my jacket, as did Jeff. Following a rocky ridge for most of the rest of the way, we finally made it back to our campsite at 2:45PM. Total trip time was 10 hours, six hours up and three hours, 15 minutes down with just over a half hour on top.
We were pretty exhausted and Al and I just laid down in the tent for 15 minutes. Jeff prepared bullion soup and we had a lunch of summer sausage, cheese, and pita bread. This was leftover from the previous day and stored in a snow refrigerator.
After a short rest, we packed up camp not wanting to spend another tent shaking night up on the ridge. We left for lower elevations at 4:30 PM. The day before, when we had arrived, we met several other day hikers who indicated that they had stayed in a very nice basin about 300 ft. above where we had stayed on our Day 2 camp. They way down was basically following the base of the cliffs and across a large flat area. The bad news was there wasn’t any trail and we had to pick our way down around a waterfall just below our Day 3 camp and then the flat area was all rock and in places so soft, due to the rapidly melting snows, that your foot would sink several inches if you weren’t quick and tried to pick rocks to step on. We met two guys who were camping on the rough rocky flats. I couldn’t have made it without a set of hiking poles. We elected to keep going, as this didn’t seem any better than what we had left on the ridge. After a couple hours of this we finally made it to the basin and lake that the people had talked about. We found a nice elevated patch of level ground near the lake and close to a stream. It was 6:30 PM by the time we dropped our packs and set up camp. We had a marmot that was very curious and came within a few feet of our tents. Tonight’s dinner was spaghetti & meat sauce with green beans and bread sticks.
As far as getting good nights sleep while on the trail, this night was about as good as it gets for me as I usually don’t sleep much. Being exhausted from a 15 hour long day on the trail and no sleep the night before, I actually slept most of the night.
Day 5 - Not having to get up and go anywhere fast, we slept in until about 7 AM and after a breakfast of hot chocolate and oatmeal, we started out just before 9 AM. It seems like no matter what we do, it takes about two hours from waking up, to eat and pack up, to being on the trail. The plan for the day is to try and make it all the way back to the trail head but return via White Pass and not Red Pass, the way we came in. There is supposed to be a hikers trail up on the hillside above where we were camped that would take us up and over the ridge, behind White Mountain, and meet the PCT at White Pass, not far from Trail #649 where we came up. Last night, as we were setting up camp, we saw two hikers heading up the hillside above our campsite so we knew about where the trail would be.
Climbing straight up the hillside, we soon came to the hikers trail heading up and over the ridge. Immediately the trail dropped 300 ft. fairly quickly. It then crossed the upper part of a large basin. On the other side of the basin, the trail then climbed, very steeply, up and over a ridge. This is the trail that Jeff had considered when we came in and, per the rangers, seemed to be the way many climbers took. The last 75 to 100 vertical feet prior to gaining the ridge, was the steepest trail I’ve ever been on. One slip here and it was hundreds of feet down of heather and talus. Footing was not very good with loose small rock and dirt and there were no rock or other handholds to help. I was thankful that Jeff let me use his hiking poles. Going the other way, I really don’t know how one would go down this part with a full pack on. I would have to remove my pack and lower it via rope before descending and even then, I would want to have been roped up, anchored from above.
Once over this ridge, the trail became a “cruiser” trail. That is, it was relatively level, following a contour line, around the backside of White Mountain and then meeting the PCT at White Pass. Once reaching White Pass, we took a break. This was about 11 AM so it only took us about two hours from our campsite to the PCT. This way out was not only much shorter than the way we came in, but you would not have to climb the 300 ft or so to Red Pass and then loose 900 ft., and then re-gain it on the other side of Red Pass, to our Day 2 campsite like we did. So, going in this way, the only real problem would be descending the short steep portion over the ridge leading to the large basin. At White Pass we met, again, the two guys that we had met on the flat area the day before prior to our coming to our Day 4 campsite. There were three tents set up not far from the trail junction but no one was around.
After a short rest, we set off up the PCT to Trail #649, about a half mile away. From here, it was about eight miles back to the trailhead. The trip from here on down was easy. On the way down, down the hillside, we could see a bear forging for food. Going down the long series of switchbacks we met two riders on horseback. They pulled off the trail a way, as one of the horses was slightly spooky due to meeting a girl with a lama and two goats on the trail. It wasn’t too much longer before we encountered them. Percy, the lama, was being a bit stubborn as the girl said he didn’t like to go uphill and didn’t like switchbacks. The lama and both goats were pretty loaded down with packs. Shortly after meeting her, we met another horseback rider with a packhorse headed up. Reaching the end of the switch backs, where we camped on Day 1, we took a break. There were several tents in the campsite. This being a Saturday, there were a lot of people on the trail and the closer we got to the trailhead, the more people we met.
We finally reached the trailhead at 4:45 PM, about an eight hour trip. Not having a bath for five days, we were pretty dirty and probably didn’t smell too good. As the parking lot was next to the North Fork Sauk River, we went down, stripped and took a sponge bath. I had clean clothes I left in the car so I felt pretty good after washing off the grime.
One disappointing thing was that even though the car had been locked up, mice somehow got inside and chewed up most of the food that we had left in the car. For some reason they left the chips alone and we had left some beer so at least we had a refreshing and salty snack before we set off for home. We arrived back home at 8:30 PM that evening.
Per Jeff, our guide,
Inbound to the summit = 19 miles, +10800 ft !!!! YIKES !!!!
day #1 = 5 miles, +1000 ft
day #2 = 6.5 miles, +4200 ft
day #3 = 3.25 miles, +1500 ft
day #4 = overall = 8.75 miles, +3500 ft -4300 ft
camp to summit and back to camp = 6 miles, +3500 ft, -3500 ft
camp to lower lake camp = 2.75 miles, -900 ft
day #5 = 11 miles, -5000 ft
I think our elevation gain/loss was a bit more than he quoted based on the altimeter readings I was taking during the trip. However, either way, it was a pretty strenuous trip for a couple of “old” guys, one being 67 years old and the other a “young” 59.
September 2, 2010
Glacier Peak — Sep 09, 2003 — Ramblin Randy
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A strong party of 8 of us ascended this thing via the Sitkum on Saturday and Sunday. We left the tr...
A strong party of 8 of us ascended this thing via the Sitkum on Saturday and Sunday. We left the trailhead at 1030 and walked the 5 flat and long miles up to the cut off for the PCT. After 2 more miles of ascending we reached the PCT where we turned left toward Fire Creek Pass. In another half mile we reached the turn off for Boulder Basin which is reached via a steep climbers path. We finally reached Boulder Basin (5600') around 1600 and gladly dropped our heavy packs and set up camp.
Glacier Peak — Aug 30, 2003 — miga
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Glacier Peak via Boulder Basin/Sitkum Glacier: The trail to Boulder Basin is in good shape, the tr...
Glacier Peak via Boulder Basin/Sitkum Glacier:
Glacier Peak — May 31, 2003 — scot'teryx
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So we decided to do a summit ski off Glacier Peak this weekend. The approach was hellish, as snow d...
So we decided to do a summit ski off Glacier Peak this weekend. The approach was hellish, as snow did not start until 5700'in Boulder Basin, and the TH is at 2300'. Plus that is about 5-6 miles in before you can skin to base camp. It rained on saturday night and crappy on sunday morning I told everyone there was no way I was not going to go for the summit, since we had tracks from previous climbers, and we had 50 wands and only 3500 feet to go to the summit from base camp at the base of the Sitkum Glacier But since it rained and was windy, tracks were hard to follow, and I went over a hidden crevasse on the lower sitkum that night when I went to yo-yo the slope but it turned out to be white out for my ski down, so it was a total waste. Sunday morning we got up to Sitkum ridge and found our way up to the upper sitkum glacier, and around 9k it opened up to blue skies and we got above the clouds From there on to the upper ridge it was perfect skinning, but on the ridge saddle is where I left my crampons, and of course that is where I started to boot it up, and only 200 feet up it got real icy, as the freezing level had dropped the night before as there were a few inches of freshiez. Scarpa Lasers do kick good steps evern in hard ice and rime though! We traversed under the summit and everyone went right around to the summit and I went left since there were steps up the gulley, then went straight up that steep headwall to the summit plateau, and then up to the final summit. The ski down was icy and Chuck and I followed previous tracks, and from the ridge saddle down to the lower ridgeline was some of the best skiing I have had this year. We skied past 2 rope teams of 3 (rope?). After the ridge it turned to mush since it had rained there and it was survival skiing from then on. The ski down from base camp (7200) to our shoes sucked as well, but better than booting it. Our shoes were soaked that we had left there, and the hike out literally sucked since we had the skis on our packs with a full pack. I vow to never go back there again Now alison says she wants to go next year........... Our times were: TH to Base camp: 5 hours BC to Summit: 3 hours Summit to BC: 23 minutes BC to TH: 4 hours I am trashed.................