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photos » 2021 » Glacier Peak Wilderness

Photo Set: Glacier Peak Wilderness


3-day hike around Glacier Peak with Lucy over the summer solstice weekend. Did not end up doing a summit attempt, despite hauling up many pounds of climbing gear, but there were many great snow traverses and big views.

We followed the most popular route from the North Fork Suak River trailhead off Mountain Loop highway, through White Pass, roughly along the summer route to Foam Creek basin, and camped a bit south of White Chuck Glacier. The second set of switchbacks climbing to White Pass were in poor condition (looks like an avalanche came through, lots of small trees down and difficult route finding) so we booted up a snow finger back to the trail. There was snow melt to fill up on water at White Pass, and pretty complete snow coverage from there to Foam Creek. The snow traverse along the Foam Creek basin was a bit steep and the snow was pretty soft and slippery. Past that point, over the ridge, everything was almost entirely still snow-covered up through Glacier Gap and very beautiful. Lots of skiers touring and skiing all around.

We camped on snow and had a beautiful sunset, but didn't get in the tent until 10pm or so. There was some increasing wind, but not too bad. After hiking 14 miles, around 6,000ft, carrying 45+ pound bags, an alpine start to make a summit attempt without a good night sleep felt like a stretch. I also made some packing mistakes and was missing my warmest down layer, and after melting some snow were very low on fuel (and thus water, and ability to rehydrate food). We slept in until 8am and did a casual hike up to Glacier Gap to check out the views. Skies were still entirely clear when we started, but a lenticular started forming over the Glacier Peak summit later in the morning, and that turned in to a cloud layer, which turned in to foggy condensation by noon, with visibility of less than 100ft. We packed up camp and followed our route back out to White Pass (cloud layer was higher and visibility improved after crossing the ridge at Foam Creek), then pushed on down the switchbacks to camp the second night near the former shelter at North Fork Sauk river. Very pretty campsite with the river running high from spring melt. Slept in again and hiked out the 5-6 miles to the trailhead in the morning through big trees and short hot sunny gullies. There are some trees down, stream crossings, and water on the trail for some sections, but everything on the flat section of the trail was doable in sneakers.

Spring flowers were out, and more marmots than we have ever seen. Mating season? Not crowded, but lots of friendly hiking and skiing parties around sharing tips. This time of year (before 4th of July) and snow conditions seem pretty ideal, and the weather was very good other than the clouds on Saturday, but almost nobody seemed to have made the summit. A couple parties made it above Disapointment Cleaver but turned back before the summit in wind or clouds. The ridge above Glacier Gap was volcanic dirt as usual. We heard that all crevases on Cool Glacier were covered, but some big ones were visible from surface features and to be avoided. Doing this again would probably make it a 4 day trip to get more sleep, though a larger party to share some of the weight might also make the difference.

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