Mt. Shuksan, 9,127’, via the Fisher Chimneys and the SE Ridge combines moderate rock climbing (up to 5.2), short steep snow and ice sections and spectacular glaciers on one of the most picturesque mountains in the world. The Fisher Chimneys portion of the climb ascend the imposing West face of the mountain, skirting the difficulties by using an intricate series of ramps and gullies to reach the upper glaciers and eventually the final summit pyramid.
You will climb the Fisher Chimneys section with your overnight packs so you must be able to travel light. This climb is good training for many of the more advanced climbs that require carrying your gear up and over the mountain. The impressive high camp is made at an airy, rock perch on edge of the White Salmon Glacier overlooking the North Face.
NCMG recommends three days for this program but very fit and experienced individuals can climb this route in two days.
The approach to the climb starts at the 4,700’ trailhead just past the Mt. Baker ski area. The trail to the base of the Fisher Chimneys is a well-maintained hiking trail that travels past Lake Ann, eventually leading to the climbing below the Lower Curtis Glacier. From here you will rope up and move through a mixture of 3rd and 4th class rock climbing split by some easier sections of trail. At the top of the Chimneys, you will climb onto the White Salmon Glacier and into your high alpine campsite.
The next morning will begin with an early alpine start ensuring the snow and ice stays firm for your climb. The first part of the day consists of steep snow and ice followed by an easier glacier climb that wraps around to the base of the SE Ridge. Depending on conditions this section may involve steep snow or ice and many large crevasses. The SE Ridge is a solid rock ridge that is climbed in numerous short pitches and takes you directly to the summit. The rock climbing is easy enough to climb in mountaineering boots if you have some previous rock climbing experience.
The descent will take you down the normal route via several rappels and down climbing. You then will retrace your steps or continue your circumnavigation around the summit pyramid eventually reaching your high camp in the afternoon.
The following morning usually starts off with a leisurely start, packing up camp and then working your way back down the Fisher Chimneys. The chimneys are descended using a combination of down climbing and lowering. It usually takes about two hours to descend back to the valley and the relatively flat hiking trail.
Climbers should have previous experience with crampons and ice axe and the ability to climb 3rd and 4th class terrain efficiently and safely while carrying an overnight pack. If this is your first real “alpine climb” where overnight packs will be carried in steep terrain please contact the office or your guide for lightweight packing tips.
Consider adding a day or two of rock training at Washington pass to prepare for climbing in mountain boots. there are a variety of moderate routes, such as the South Arete that will help you feel more comfortable on the rock that you will climb on the summit pyramid later in the season.