Glacier Peak is probably the least known Washington volcano peak and was not my peak list. But with 7500 feet of prominence, it was on Michael's list. Always up for an adventure, I jumped at the chance to join John, Michael and Brian for a four day hike/climb in the Glacier Peak Wilderness area. The three Idaho guys met up with Brian at his place in Castle Rock, WA, Monday evening for some of his famous lasagna and to sort our gear so we weren't doubling up on things.
We found out on the drive North that we should have spent more time sorting gear rather than eating lasagna. I mentioned to John that we needed to stop to get some fuel for his stove and he responded with, "Didn't you bring your stove?" Not the response I was hoping for, as I had left my stove back at Brian's figuring John had brought his. After a not so quick stop at an REI, we were back on the road with the opportunity to not eat crunchy rice.
It took us a while to drive through the Seattle area to the trail head east of Darrington, WA. We were lumbering down the trail with heavy packs a little after 4PM, planning to stop for the night at a "shelter" 5.5 miles down the trail. This initial hike was through old growth forest filled with giant Cedars, Hemlocks and the occasional Douglas Fir which is seldom seen.
|Entering the wilderness area|
The next morning was a bit foggy as we shouldered our packs and started up the trail. The fog was a blessing, as the next couple of miles switched back and forth up an old avalanche chute while gaining 2800 feet.
|Switchbacks in the fog|
Occasionally we would come across snow covering a creek bed that required a bit of caution while crossing.
But. for the most part is was just hiking along in the fog with an occasional glimpse of the surrounding area.
We eventually joined the Pacific Crest Trail, which we traveled on for a short distance, before taking a breather at White Pass. At this point we were out of the fog, but the upper level cloud cover still obscured views while keeping the temperatures nice and cool.
|White Pass rest stop|
|John taking the lead|
|Trail through the snow leading to the notch|
|White Chuck Glacier Basin|
|Brian and Michael coming over the notch into White Chuck Glacier basin|
During one of the times we could actually see, we selected a campsite below "Glacier Gap" at 6700 feet. It had everything we needed; slightly level rocky ground, running water and a resident marmot.
After erecting our tents, John proceeded to build a rock wall to supplement two large boulders partially blocking the wind which was blowing at a good clip As the others took a nap, I was on marmot patrol, keeping the pesky guy away from our camp.
That night we went to bed hoping that NOAAs prediction of clear skies would come true.
|A quick photo while there was a glimpse of blue sky|
I awoke to John providing a hot cup of coffee and telling me that we were in the, "belly of the cow". I'm not exactly sure where that reference came from, but we were socked in with fog and it was drizzling. We all had a hot beverage and munched on some granola feeling slightly depressed. So much for NOAAs prediction.
|Camp at 6AM|
As we were getting ready, Brian stated that he had a feeling that things would work out and we should just go for it. Everyone agreed that there was no sense in sitting around camp, so we headed out.
|Heading up towards Glacier Gap|
Michael took the lead as we moved up through the fog in single file. Though the drizzling had stopped, we still had limited visibility and were relying on the GPS track. The track took us to climber's left of Glacier Gap, up and over a short ridge at 7600 feet. Once over the ridge, we dropped a couple hundred feet before gaining another snow free ridge, with a trail!
|Heading up the trail in the fog|
|Out first glimpse at the peak?|
As we moved higher up the trail, the fog/clouds started lifting, After a short while, we climbed above the clouds and were in the brilliant sunshine staring at Disappointment Peak. We could not see Glacier Peak, as it was behind Disappointment Peak. Is this why it is named Disappointment?
|John enjoying the sunshine|
|Heading towards Disappointment Peak|
|Michael leading the charge.|
|Our first view of Glacier Peak|
|The pumice/rock ridge|
When the pumice trail petered out at a steep snow field, we stopped to put on crampons for the final 300-400 feet, With the security of the crampons and our ice axes, we quickly gained the summit at 10,541 feet.
|Michael on the final 300 feet|
|John and Brian almost to the summit|
|John, John and Michael on the summit|
The views from the summit were spectacular! We could see Mt Rainier, Mt Baker and Mt Stuart poking above the clouds. With a biting wind chilling us, we headed down after a few pictures.
|A group of four coming up behind us|
|The other group heading up the pumice ridge|
|Looking down the Gerdine snowfield|
|Camp is to the upper left of the circle in the snow|
|Brian, John and Michael crossing the White Chuck snowfield|
In contrast to the cool, foggy hike we had the previous day, the hike out was very hot. But the views were phenomenal and we were finally able to see all that we had missed on the hike in.
|Looking back at the White Chuck Basin|
After a quick breakfast, we were off for the final 8 miles and 3500 feet descent to the car where stream cooled beer awaited.
|White Pass/PCT junction|
Distance: 30-35 miles
Elevation gain: >9K feet
Time: 4 days
Splattski's Trip Report: