EAK and I headed across the border and up to the Mt. Baker ski area, parking at the Lake Ann trailhead near Artist Point. From there we headed down the trail and over towards Lake Ann stopping for a break just past the lake. Here a view of our objective loomed above us.
Here's a shot taken this past February from when Darren and I went to the Coleman Pinnacle. Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains in the USA.
Baker in the morning sun.
A trail continues upwards, we pass a bear quite close enjoying blueberries and after crossing a scree slope we get to the base of Fisher Chimneys. Things get pretty steep from here, but the rock is good and the holds are plentiful. Mostly class 3 with some minor trail parts and occasional class 4. There were four rope slings placed for those faint of heart types
Above is an idea of the terrain.
After that we cross some hard snow and ascend some rock to get to the bottom of Winnie's Slide. A steep snow slope that is near rock hard. Not sure where the name came from but it sounds like it didn't end well.
Here's Ed putting on his crampons at the base of Winnie's.
I put on my crampons and with iceaxe in hand ascend the very firm snow. Not too bad, but I sure wouldn't want to slip.
Ed reaching the top part.
The snow levels off briefly and we clamber over some rocks to get to where we go onto the Upper Curtis Glacier. There were a couple of tents around this area.
The Upper Curtis Glacier with the summit of Shuksan upper centre left.
Many crevasses around here, but a safe route presents itself starting on talus covered ice.
Ed gets onto the glacier.
Things level off for a bit and we meet two guys coming down. They tell us that the route is in good shape. We continue upwards for a while avoiding bigger crevasses and keeping close to their tracks. There's a couple of narrow but deep crevasses that we jump over with care. The glacier then drops down quite a bit before rising steeply upwards to meet up with the Sulphide Glacier.
Ed on the Upper Curtis Glacier. Two other climbers about to descend the steeper section in the distance.
Ascenders and Descenders.
We say hello and head up the steep part with no problems.
Ed nearing the end of the steep section.
Up some more going around a few more crevasses and we gain the Sulphide Glacier and a look ahead towards the summit pyramid.
Here it is. The plan is to follow the glacier to it's high point and then gain the southeast ridge (right side).
On the Sulphide Glacier.
I get to the end of the snow first and with a couple of low 5th class moves gain the ridge. Ed soon arrives and we take a look at what comes next.
Looking up the southeast ridge. Ed has done this route before.
The rock is solid and there's plenty of holds and things start off pretty good. After a bit though I was finding things were getting a little sketchy. About two-thirds of the way up a large block barred the route and I was getting out of my comfort zone. The decision was then made to rap down into the gully (at climbers left) thirty feet below us and continue up that as it was the regular route.
We put on our harnesses, put a sling around a small horn of rock and down I rappelled for the second time in my life. Ed handlined himself down carefully and then we traversed some ledges, got into the gully proper and headed up. Things were good now and in short order we gained the summit of 2783m and great views all around.
1. Summit shot.
2. Northeastern view with Ruth Mountain and Icy Peak below.
3. Southwards down the Sulphide Glacier and Baker Lake in the distance.
Time was getting on by now and we wanted to be back at Lake Ann before sunset. Off the peak we go and back into the gully.
Ed coming off the peak area.
The gully has a few options and is mainly class 3 with class 4 if you go looking for it which Ed did at times. Good rock though and the holds are nearly always there when needed.
Mount Blum to the southeast.
The lower part of the gully.
Down the Sulphide Glacier we go enjoying the warm sun. We turn to get back to the steeper section near where the Upper Curtis joins up and descend that with no problems.
Above the steep section. Some big holes down there.
Another ascent is trudged up and we work our way around and then down the scree covered ice part and over some rock to the top of Winnie's Slide.
Northern view with McGuire, Tomyhoi, Border Peaks, Larrabee, Pleiades with Goat in front, Slesse and Serfit near right with Rexford peaking up behind it.
There is a rope belay set up here as well as some slings lower down in a moat. Using the former and with Ed's rope we hand lined down half of the Slide. I backed down the rest whilst Ed dug some kind of hold for the rope in the hard snow (he'll tell you the proper term) just for the hell of it and made his way down to the bottom.
Ed descending Winnie's Slide.
Me having a good time.
Down some boulders, across some more snow and we're back at the top of Fisher Chimneys. The downclimb here went well, no ropes employed and as the sun neared the horizon we got to the scree field.
Looking down part of Fisher Chimneys. Rope rap sling at left.
The bear was still enjoying the blueberries, but we stayed high to not disturb him/her and then dropped back down to a creek area where we grabbed some water and ate some food.
The sun was about to head down, so I snapped this shot of alpenglow on Shuksan and then we headed up a little to the lake.
Ed's been up this peak nine times now.
From the lake it was a long slog out on tired legs with the last half or so done with headlamp. The last part involves an elevation gain of near 200m which reminds you of the long day just had.
On the drive out along Mt. Baker highway a cougar ran across the road in front of us and it was a big sucker. Back across the border, I drop off Ed, grab a chocolate milk (big craving) and head for bed. An adventurous thirteen and a half hour day spent in the mountains now over