Skiing Glacier Peak in North Cascades

 

Description: 

Of all the Cascade Volcanos, Glacier peak is the most introverted, yet completely wild and free.  Nestled in the north Cascades it is less identifiable or even findable from the major metro areas and many forget it is the 5th Washington Volcano.  But that doesn't make it any less spectacular.  In-fact its much the opposite. Because of limited access and its location amongst the other north cascade peaks, its in one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the the lower 48 states.  For years the access road on both sides have been either washed out or decommissioned, but the mountain loop one gets restored every few years. 

The Route and Important Details: 

Best Time: Late May-June ( Once road is passable) 

Trailhead: North Fork Sauk Trailhead

Car to Car: 3 days

Route:

follow the North Fork of the Sauk trail until you hit the PCT.   Snow started about 5-6 miles in when the trees opened up and from here we ascened the snow to the saddled left of white mountain.  You can also head further right along the ridges which will ultimately save less gain overall.  But from the White mountain saddle we skied down 1000' then ascended a few hundred feet and setup camp.  Many folks setup camp further, but I prefer to travel further on summit day with a lighter pack.  This was about 7 miles and 5200' from the summit.  The ascent heads east from camp until starting to angle more due north.  You follow a series of bowls and ridges to the summit.  GPS tracks below. There are a few low angle or flat traverses along the way.   

At the summit you can either follow the ski down, or the other obvious descent is the Cool Glacier Headwall, which is what we took.  This is a steeper 1000'  face with a bergschrund at the bottom, before re-uniting with the lower angle ascent route.  The area back here is huge so there are countless options of varying difficulty and danger.  On our ascent we never had a solid freeze so there was some good corn in spots including the headwall, but it was mostly isothermal.  Then follow the tracks back to camp.  We spent a second night at camp and then headed out first thing on the third day. 

GPS:

 

 

Glacier Day 1

Said creek where shoes were lost

Glacier Day 1

If you lose your shoes in a creek, you have 7 miles of hiking in ski boots

Glacier day 1

Looking up the slope to White Mountain

Glacier Day 1

Looking down the first open slope where we left the trail

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Glacier day 1

Final push to the White mountain saddle

Glacier Day 1

Ski down from the saddle to camp

Glacier Day 1

Final push to camp

Glacier Day 2

Looking back with camp in the background at the clump of trees on the hill and the saddle in the background

Glacier Day 2

Early morning look at the route

Glacier Day 2

More skinning

Glacier Day 2

Long gradual skin to the summit block

Glacier Day 2

Nearing the summit block

Glacier Day 2

Dropping into the Cool Glacier Headwall

Glacier Day 2

Looking back at Bram skiing the cool Glacier Headwall

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Glacier Day 2

Long glacier descent

Glacier Day 2

Quick skin after the primary descent

Glacier Day 3

7am, final ski to back to the trail, Sloan in the Background

Glacier Day 3

Pushing the Skiing as far as we could