How to Climb Mount Shuksan’s Fisher Chimneys Route • Angela Travels


It was many years ago. I did a winter trip to Artist Point with the Washington Alpine Club for a backcountry skiing course. I was in awe of the cotton candy sunset that added Mount Shuksan to mountains I want to climb. 

Mt. Shuksan

I do not usually attempt and locate the popular route up a mountain. I like assortment and much less crowds, along with a challenge. The Fisher Chimneys route happy that criteria with complicated navigation, scrambling, glacier travel, oh and much more scrambling to summit.

To celebrate our four-year wedding anniversary, we left the puppy with good friends for the 1st time and took a lengthy weekend away. Andy and I had only been on the identical glacier rope after prior to, and this time we had been a rope group of two. It is usually a communication dynamic when tied with each other and moving at a pace that functions, in particular when you are in a partnership. Even though, we’ve been on sufficient outside adventures that our communication has evolved and appears to be much less frustrating than previous climbs likely due to the fact I’m much more in shape and can virtually preserve up these days.

About Mount Shuksan

1st ascent: 1906, Asahel Curtis and W. Montelius Value

The ancestral land: Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka’pamux), Puget Sound Salish, Nuxwsa’7aq (Nooksack) 

Land management: North Cascades National Park

What to anticipate

The Fisher Chimneys route and summit pyramid call for 3rd to 4th class scrambling on rock. The summit pyramid has an solution for a 5th class trad climb through the Southeast Rib. The issues of the climb contain glacier travel, Hell’s Highway, Winnie’s Slide, 3rd to 4th class scrambling on the Fisher Chimneys and summit pyramid. Hell’s Highway and Winnie’s Slide could have step snow or ice based on the time of the year. Look at bringing ice protection for belaying early or late in the season.

Know prior to you go

Permits necessary if camping at the National Park boundary just previous Lake Ann.

Trail stats

Stats are measured from GPS tracks that could not be 100% correct.

  • Distance: 14.four miles round trip
  • Elevation get: six,632 feet
  • Estimated time: 10 to 15 hours moving time, not which includes breaks
    • Trailhead to Lake Ann: two hours
    • Lake Ann to summit: six.five hours
    • Summit to Lake Ann: six.five hours
    • Lake Ann to trailhead: two hours

Locations to camp

Mount Shuksan views from Lake Ann camp

You have many selections for camp. If you can not inform, I stayed at Lake Ann. Having said that, there are campsites previous Lake Ann producing your summit push day shorter but signifies you have to carry a heavier pack longer. 

  • Lake Ann (four,700 feet)
  • Ridge above 1st chimney (five,650 feet)
  • Beneath Winnie’s Slide (six,900 feet)
  • Soon after Winnie’s Slide (7,050 feet)

Route description 

Lake Ann

Beginning at the Lake Ann Trailhead, you descend down and hike in the meadows prior to ascending up towards Lake Ann.

Lake Ann trailhead

We began Friday afternoon and hiked to Lake Ann and identified a campsite. Not wanting to cease at the ranger station or try to get a permit for camping inside the national park boundary. A further advantage of staying at Lake Ann is not carrying heavy packs with camp gear up via the Fisher Chimneys. 

Trail to Lake Ann

Fisher Chimneys

Fisher Chimneys

We woke up and began climbing about three:50 a.m. It wasn’t lengthy till we no longer necessary headlamps to locate the way. Taking us two hours to get to the base of the Chimneys, we passed some of the greater camps and began navigating via the decrease Fisher Chimneys. It was straight-forward going up and down. Remain in the gullies. I’d say the commence of the Reduced Chimneys had the hardest moves (at least for downclimbing in mountaineering boots).

Fisher Chimneys route on Mount Shuksan with Mount Baker in the background

Appear for belay stations slung with webbing. We created mental notes on which ones we’d want to use if the scramble was a steep downclimb on the return.

Winnie’s Slide

Best out of the Fisher Chimneys and briefly stroll on the White Salmon Glacier. We took a swift break right here to place on crampons and decided not to rope up rather but. The snow was steep but the boot pack was set and manageable devoid of higher consequence. Later in the season when the snow is melted and ice remains, good friends have recommended bringing an ice screw for protection. You then get to yet another camp.

Winne's Slide

Upper Curtis Glacier &amp Hell’s Highway

Upper Curtis Glacier

You will locate operating water if you require to filter or fill up. Right here is exactly where we roped up and began on the Upper Curtis Glacier that begins steep and then tapers off prior to you shed elevation to access Hell’s Highway. Hell’s Highway is a ramp to the Sulphide Glacier that can be reasonably related to Winnie’s Slide. Luckily, a boot pack was established and we ascended devoid of difficulty.

Sulphide Glacier

Sulphide Glacier - Fisher Chimneys route

Attain the Sulphide Glacier with views of the summit pyramid. Merge with the Sulphide Glacier route and take the route of least resistance (or least crevasses) towards the summit. We stashed our crampons and ice axes at the base of the gulley to commence the scramble. 

Summit Pyramid

Summit of Mount Shuksan

Searching at the pyramid, you could see climbers on the ideal ridge, which is a trad route that demands placement of gear protection. As an alternative, locate a network of gullies on the pyramid that appear like a scramble route. Remains of crampon and ice tool rock scratches assistance show exactly where other folks have marked their path, typically when ice remains on the rock. Best out and sign the summit register. We reached the summit at 10:30 am.

Descent to camp

From the best, descend either by downclimbing, or utilizing rappel stations. Verify the anchor and webbing prior to utilizing but this is a guided route and ought to be reputable. A further group was also downclimbing (when nevertheless on their rope) and became a bottleneck. Not wanting to rappel above or about them, we also down climbed gradually behind as they managed their rope. We got to a steep snow section prior to acquiring back to our gear that we ascended on the way up. Now, it was soft and uncomplicated to plunge step. The steepness of the slope meant we continued to wait for the roped group till it was secure to pass them. We estimated the bottleneck added an additional hour.

We gathered our stashed gear, place on our crampons and tied into the rope to descend the way we came and ultimately passed the slower moving group.

This time, we stayed on rope till the White Salmon Glacier for efficiency. I did shed one particular of my plunge methods descending Hell’s Highway and had to do a swift arrest. Andy didn’t even notice I slipped when he belayed me. He lost his footing close to the identical spot and was in a position to arrest as properly. The snow undoubtedly was softer producing the steep sections manageable.

Winnie’s Slide didn’t soften up as considerably as we had hoped and the steep angle meant down-climbing in the boot pack. We reached yet another group coming up and we waited for them to pass prior to continuing down. It took us two hours and 45 minutes to descend from the summit to the best of Fisher Chimneys.

Fisher Chimneys

We down climbed most of the Fisher Chimneys but decided to rappel two sections. Taking the rope out to rappel slowed us down on the 1st one particular, so we decided not to do it once again till the final rappel station to prevent the steep move we began on.

It was smooth sailing back to Lake Ann to camp. We arrived at five pm immediately after 13 hours of climbing. We dried out our gear, restocked up on water, and rinsed off in the stream. I was satisfied we had yet another evening at camp to watch the sunset and devote time in the mountains.

Lake Ann camp with views of Mount Shuksan

Trip dates: July 19 – 21, 2019


You can locate my tracks on Gaia GPS Mount Shuksan – FIsher Chimneys.

Recommended gear list

Climbing gear

  • Mountaineering boots
  • Crampons
  • Ice axe
  • Harness
  • Glacier rope
  • Glacier travel gear: prusiks
  • Belay device
  • Helmet
  • Glacier sunglasses

Clothes gear

  • Hiking layers
  • Down jacket
  • Difficult shell
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Further pair of socks

Camping gear

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Tent
  • Meals
  • Stove
  • Water filter


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