Home Skiing The view from White Salmon Glacier

The view from White Salmon Glacier

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The bushwhacking might wear you out a bit, but you can sleep when you get to the top. Photo by Paul Nicholson. The bushwhacking might wear you out a bit, but you can sleep when you get to the top. Photo by Paul Nicholson.

In summer, the White Salmon Glacier route up Mt. Shuksan requires a lengthy bushwhack and careful route finding. From the bottom of Mt. Baker Ski Area’s chair 8, you have two options: traverse the north face of the Shuksan arm into Rumble Gully, or head straight downhill to White Salmon Creek, then follow that up into the gully. Either route involves multiple creek crossings and fury inducing paths through tangled underbrush. If you’re carrying skis, mentally prepare yourself for at least four hours of hellishly slow progress. Bushes and saplings with thick, slippery branches at oblique angles snag your skis, poles and ice tools every inch of the way. The final stretch of bushwhacking, alongside the steep headwaters of White Salmon creek, is the worst.

The climb up the snowfield and onto White Salmon Glacier is straightforward. There are some steep sections, and you’ll have to navigate around bergschrunds and a couple crevasses, but compared to the bushwhacking it’s a joy. From the ridge, it’s a pretty mellow skin along the Upper Curtis Glacier, to Hell’s Highway, and onto the Sulphide Glacier. Then, if you’re game, you can tackle the final rock pitches of the summit cone.