I made plans with a couple of mountaineering/skiing friends to see how far up Mt. Shuksan we could get since we had a very favorable forecast. We waffled on start times and routes and finally settled on trying a lazy start with a chair lift bump up to the top of chair 8. This left us with about 2 miles of well packed boot pack out the Arm and about 1500 feet of elevation gain. At that point we dropped in on a traversing line to a point just west and below the White Salmon glacier that dropped ~2000 feet.
We set a skin track from there up to the top of the glacier about 2500 feet higher. We crossed one slide chute above an ice fall and under a large serac and higher up crossed a bridged crevasse. Other than that the climb was just a lot of work and some good skin track setting challenges.
We gained the top of the glacier at about 430pm and sat down to melt water and eat some food. We probably rested for 30 minutes before dropping back in. In that time the blower pow on top of consolidated/soft base crusted over.
The 4500 foot run back to the bottom of the White Salmon drainage was very good. The skin out through the trees was tough but we made it back to the car by 730pm.
Next time I'd like to try for a very early start (5am from the parking lot) and do the entire thing on foot. I don't think the hike out the Arm saved us any work and maybe even made it a longer day.
Post subject: Re: White Salmon Glacier, learning experience
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:51 pm
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:57 pm Posts: 4965 Location: California
Just like life in general, splitting is a learning experience like you said.
Assuming since you posted this you're open to some feedback.
I'm by no means an expert or know it all but we did successfully top out on the main high point on the Shuksan recently.
Here's my thoughts.
While I'm all for using chairlifts, snowmos, etc to make the slog shorter, a general rule of thumb is that on splitboards taking a more direct route is preferred over traversing. For skiers this often isn't the case and there are times when the longer way is better than the shorter way on a split, but usually not.
When we did the trip we had a local with us which was huge in getting us on the traditional route from the valley. We left the upper ski are lot at 9am, skinned the looker's left cat track and dropped down into the valley. From there is was very straightforward and direct to the top of the salmon.
In terms of water. To me, I'd rather carry extra water than take valuable time and gear (jetboil or stove and pot) to melt water. For a long day I take 100oz, for shorter days I take at least 70oz. Some people take less but to me, water is so important that I'd rather have too much than not enough.
I dont think you need to start at 5am but early starts are generally a good thing. Good luck next time!
Thanks for the advice and the suggestions. I'm always open to learning.
I'll try to get some pictures up when I get a chance.
When I say that we rode a traversing line down from the Arm it was far from a straight traverse. We rode at what I would estimate to be 45 degrees to the fall line and got very good turns on the way. Our main goal was to ski the White Salmon with the hopes of getting the summit but that was secondary. That said, I don't think the time spent hiking out the Arm was of much benefit other than the extra run that we got. I also really wanted to get out the Arm past the Hourglass and Hidden Bowl to see if I could find a way down to Lake Anne on the south side, which I was able to find. I'd like to get out there soon too. I've spent most of my life close to the ski area but have gotten further out this year now that I have a way to get around faster.
I really don't mind melting water, it goes very quickly, it just took so long because I think I must have melted 6 liters while we were resting/eating/drinking. I started with 2 liters and I think I drank 5 during the day. Nobody was really in much of a hurry and we were all enjoying the views.
If we were serious about the summit then I think the 5am start is the way to go. Did you make the summit with the 9am start through the valley?
I've summited Shuksan before but it was a long time ago and from the south side. I've seen a few different variations on the north side but this was my first close look which will help a lot the next time I get up there. It was the first time anyone in the group this weekend had been on that face.
Saturday was about a 3000 foot day for me and Sunday I figure we climbed about 4500 feet to get up to the top of the WS plus another 500 or so to get back out from the bottom. It looks like we climbed about 1500 feet up the Arm, dropped in from close to 6000 feet and rode down to about 4600 feet. Again, I think that 4 hour headstart from the parking lot would have been a big help.
BTW You started from the lower lot, the upper lot would have added a lot of extra ground to travel.
The locals refer to it as the "lower lot" or the "white salmon" and the other one is the "upper lot" or "heather meadows".
I remember hearing about the late start for the bombing, I was out on the Arm for a couple of laps that day showing some people around and not really involved in Splitfest at all. I should have made more of an effort but I try to avoid crowds.
You must have been moving fast to make it up to the base of the summit pyramid that fast. I hope I can get the conditions good for another attempt this season still.
Don't worry about being a Baker noob, I've been riding and hiking up here for 22 years and I'm still learning new stuff almost every time.