Mt. Shuksan: Hanging Glacier Headwall
Allen and I arrived in the Mt. Baker parking lot at 9am on Sunday and realized immediately that the weather forecasters had completely blown the call. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, or a breath of wind. We were originally planning to stick close to the resort, so it was lucky that we’d packed some technical gear and enough food for a full day anyway (optimism is a hard habit to kick). We were extremely late out of the gate, but we suited up and raced up the valley to Shuksan in the hopes of getting on one of the bigger lines. We hadn’t figured out exactly what yet, we just wanted to be up high while the sun was still out.
About half way up the White Salmon, we decided that one of the lines we wanted to ski (The line Dan did end up skiing) was too ambitious for our late start and level of energy, so we re-focused on our other option, the Hanging Glacer, with the possible addition of the Hanging Glacier Headwall as the entrance (assuming we could find it from the top).
To familiarize yourself with what I’m talking about, check out Lowell Skoogs excellent Northwest Ski-History website Alpenglow.org.
We plodded up the White Salmon, making slow but steady progress, and saw a solo snowboarder making his (her?) way up the White Salmon Headwall chute as we climbed. Nearing the top of the White Salmon, I started running out of gas. All the joints in my lower body were sore from a running race the weekend before, and my Gu-based breakfast and lunch wasn’t sitting well in my stomach. No-matter, we were nearing at the top of the line and I wasn’t slowing Allen down too much; with the daylight available at this time of year, you can be late and still be on time.
I stopped for a “my knees hurt and a feel like I want to vomit” photo break. Allen was getting bored, so he went ahead.
This was screaming “wall ride” the whole time we hiked past it.
Almost there. The flat approach makes the severe angle of the face all the more jarring.
Read about the author: Sam