Glacier Peak (Dakobed)

WA Cascades West Slopes Central
Posted by Andreea G. on 6/27/22 10:19am

What turns a line from a top objective into a Moby Dick-esque quest? Is it aesthetics, technicality, vert, remoteness? Or something else entirely? 

Glacier Peak (Dakobed) was the white whale of my season. I saw it back in the first Juneuary as I skied corn around Snoqualmie, then later this spring from Whitehorse, Eldorado, and Hidden Lake Peak. I loved that it stood alone in the mountain skylines. Not in your face like Rainier, not proud like Baker and Shuksan. Just quiet, aloof.

This past weekend (June 24-26th), I got an early birthday present: the perfect weather window.

Bryan Battles, Ben Juliar, and I set out to meet the white whale. We got to the North Fork Sauk trailhead at 5:30pm on Friday after putting my Jeep in 4wd and bombing the pothole-y forest service road (highly recommend).

Weight check: my pack was 40lb including skis, camping gear, and food for two and a half days. Bryan's was 30lb (now I see the appeal of skimo gear), and Ben's was 70lb (no typo there, and he still crushed faster than everyone, wtf).

Our approach to camp at White Pass was fairly straightforward: 8mi of greeting old growth forest, wading through some swampy bits, and hopping some creeks. The last 2mi or so we did in the dark, an endless traverse across sloping snow-covered slopes. We went to sleep around midnight. 

4AM alpine start on Saturday, you know the drill. We were happy to drop some of the camp weight for the summit push, but took our food with us in case of bears or other animals around our tent (there was a recent bear sighting sign at the trailhead).

We had a perfect bluebird sky all day, but wind gusts were around 30-35mph, far more than the forecasts had shown. Travel conditions were easy, given that there had been no freeze-thaw cycle and as of yet, no warming. We traversed bootpacks, then skin tracks, then made our own tracks, passing other campers. 

Like the weather windows leading up to our trip, Glacier Peak (Dakobed) was a giant tease. Even as the miles and the vert stacked up on my watch, the summit felt farther and farther away when we got glimpses of it. 

Until it was undeniable: a large group descending from the top, and they looked like full-sized humans, not ants. We summited both ridges just in case, as Gaia and CalTopo didn't agree which one was the true tallest point. 

And wow, the views. You can see for yourself.

But WOW, the corn. The butteriest, smoothest, juiciest corn of the season. I skied one of the best summit lines of my season, and we got about 1K in before the snow got heavier, sloppier.

We took a lot of breaks on the odyssey back to camp, soaking in the moment and the sun. The winds made it pleasurable. The glop on our ski bases, and our limp skins, made it a slog. Sorry fellow sadists, I'm going to gloss over the rest of the deproach, leaving you with just one detail that I learned: if you sleep a total of 9hrs in one week leading up to Glacier Peak, you might also reach the point of absolute exhaustion, and then push on, almost high.

We camped for a second night at White Pass, eating all of the things, watching the sun set (call out to Ben who wanted to ski more and went up to the ridge). The perfect end to a perfect weekend, so far removed from reality that it took on new life. 

And new life there was — we woke up in the morning to carpenter ants with wings! Everywhere! They crawled into our gear and followed us across the melting slopes, blooming yellow wildflowers, and lush forests back to my Jeep (and now my apartment, hello).

Flash forward to beer at River Time Brewing in Darrington. 89 degrees out and we're staring up at Whitehorse, snow so smooth and distant. Faces sunburned, backs aching, toes like swollen turkey sausages. How did we get from the top of Glacier Peak to this here and now?

That's what it's all about: a Moby Dick objective. Respecting the mountain and respecting yourself, your friends. Looking back at a summit and wondering how the hell you were able to make it up it and back down in a space that's existed for millennia, and you only a shiny little dot crawling up it, wishing for wings.


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Glacier Peak (Dakobed) Summit Ski

Mmmm, corn!

Summit Posse


Summit View


Look! Views!


Slushier parts down below

TAY shit


Melting slopes traverse


Creek crossings


NAN km, 20:51:00

Nice one! Looks like a great adventure, thanks for sharing it.

Great trip report and photos. Your writing style is wonderful. It brings back memories.😃

Nicely written! I can picture the flying ants

Reply to this TR

Andreea G.
2022-06-27 17:19:21