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Shuksan Sulphide+ Upper Curtis+ White Salmon Glacier

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by UpperSkagit_JC on 4/16/24 6:59am

I am surprised to be the first TR for this ski descent for the high pressure weekend since there were many parties skiing the same route. My condition report is for Sunday, 4/14. Most parties, it seems, skied it the Saturday before and we were thankful to have some tracks to follow through the forest.


We started well after dawn at around 7:15 AM, and descended into the basin below Chair 8 following tracks through the woods. The descent was filled with a thin layer of snow until about half way down, and we were forced to boot some of it. We crossed two creeks by foot and skinned on debris-covered snow down in the drainage. The snow in the forest had stayed warm and resisted re-freezing overnight. When we reached the clearing, the snow was firm enough to require ski crampons, even for the ascent to the base of Shuksan proper. We passed two soft boot splitboarders who were without ski crampons. Props to them for persevering despite having zero sharps on them.

The ascent was uneventful and quite pleasant as we skinned up a skin track in cool temperatures. We kept our ski cramps on until reaching a little below the toe of WSG glacier, and opted to take them off. At the base of Winnie Slide was the only patch where I thought we would have needed them again, but booting firm patches was a reasonable option as well. We passed two more parties who were having lunch in the sun below Winnie's Slide (~11 am), and we put on crampons to climb to the Upper Curtis. The crampons were unnecessary, but we brought them so might as well use them, huh?

The snow on the Upper Curtis was firm but it was hot in the sun. I was thankful that our time in the sun was brief. We booted all the up to below the Hourglass, and skied to Hell's highway, reattaching ski crampons as the snow firmed up again. High clouds in the sky and small c-nimbus clouds were dancing through the valleys... but not enough to block the sun.

Hell's highway had a booter to the edge of the Sulphide, and this is where we wish we had put on our crampons. On the sulphide, the snow immediately turned into calf-to-knee deep slush. We pushed onwards a short bit and noticed tracks from the summit pyramid. The time was 1:30 pm and, after a snack and water, we decide to ski before everything turned into dangerous mush. We gave up the summit push for the snow and made some proper turns following our tracks back to the bottom. The snow from Hell's to the top of WSG was still very firm, so we could have benefitted from waiting a bit longer. The WSG had wonderful snow until the very bottom of the basin where the snow was turning into wet concrete making turns energy-intensive.

We skinned back up the basin following a traverse a previous party had set, avoiding booting and bushwacking up out of the basin. I was very grateful for this track as it saved us a lot of energy, although it probably took the same amount of time given how rotten the snow was. If not for this skin track, I could not imagine setting this skin track in the dark without GPS...props to them. This was by far the funnest part of the day- nothing better than really funky forest skinning to loosen up the hips!

We got back to the car by 4 pm with many many dinner ideas and happy to have skied this objective this spring before it all melted away.



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2024-04-16 13:59:06