Phil Armiger, Martian Jambrichova, Cherry, and I climbed Shuksan (9131) last weekend and skied down. Bugs drank deeply of our blood as we humped from the trailhead at 2600 to the first snow at 5500. Gloom and Misery. Bliss commenced at snowline. We pitched camp around 6500 ft, (accidentally, i swear) just above a phenomenally placed composting pooper, offering great views not only of baker, baker lake, and all mountains west, but also the embarrassed backsides of all fellow climbers on the route as nature called. we have photos....
I highly recommend camping with Phil. After last week's hump-fest with Pat I wasn't bringing one extra gram on this climb i didn't absolutely require so survive, so i was delighted when Phil popped from his pack not 1, not 2, but 5 bottles of beer and 1 bottle of red wine! Now that's climbing!
We talked with a group of Colorado climbers (between poops) who were prepping for Rainier. They were convinced they needed to rise early, climb, and descend before the snow bridges melted out the next morning, as they would on the Big Fella, and were therefore going to rise at 2am and get going. We didn't have the heart to inform them that there weren't any dangerous hidden crevasses on this peak, so we heartily approved of their plan, sent them on their way, drank some beer and wine, told stories, and went to bed around 11.
Rising at 9 or 9:30, we discovered that our Colorado friends seemed to have already summitted and descended safely. we drank coffee and plotted. around 11 cherry started to get really mad at Phil and me for dawdling, so we shifted into 2nd gear and packed to go.
The snow route is clean and safe if you watch for the big ones. We had skis, skins, harnesses, axes, 25M of spectra cord, and 3 rock pieces. Phil and Cherry had climbed it before. Martina and I had not. Phil hadn't packed skins and walked up. Cherry and I started skinning, but due to glue problems, and the fact that Phil was beating us up the hill, we doffed the skis and started walking about 7,500 ft. We reached the rock at 3:00.
We never roped up on the glacier. crevasses were either enormous and easily spotted and skirted, or 6 inches across and easily stepped over. There's one steepish snow pitch before the summit gully that commands full attention. The rock gully is mostly class 3, with a few class 4 parts and lots of loose stuff. The rock-pro was dead weight.
As the sole party selecting a noon start, we found ourselves alone, so the only rock fall we had to worry about was our own. This was Good Planning. The summit gully is three pitches or so of steep funnellish scramble, so even well-meaning chaps above you can kill your ass with a minor misstep by innocently dislodging a chunk-o-shuksan-aimed-at-yo-head.
Martina, goddess on skis, didn't like the rock bowling alley, and opted to tan while the three of us tagged the top. Only time we used the rope was to rap down the previously mentioned steep snow slope. It's a full pitch, and if you only bring a 25M rope, the last person has to descend unroped. Two tools are nice here.
Back to the snow, the ski down was greasy, glorious, orgasmic nirvana. (i just got punched for writing that) Cherry and I had to work Monday, so we reached camp, packed up, and skied / hiked out Sunday night, sneaking past the bugs while they were snug in bed, finally plopping exhausted on our front porch at 2:00 am Monday morning. Wiser, Phil and Martina stayed an extra day and skied out Monday like decent citizens.
Other than feeding about a million blackflies our life's essence, twas a fine trip.