Mount Shuksan is one of the most iconic and beautiful peaks in Washington State. Located in the North Cascades of North America, this 9,131-foot peak offers stunning views and unparalleled adventure for hikers, climbers, and skiers alike. With its rugged beauty, Mount Shuksan is a popular destination for mountaineers worldwide.
In this blog post, we will provide a complete guide to Mount Shuksan, including the best routes, safety tips, and more.
The first ascent of Mt. Shuksan was originally attributed to climbers in 1906, but further documentation revealed that the true first ascent was completed by climber Joseph Morowits in 1897. Today, the mountain is climbed every season by hundreds of climbers from around the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
Did You Know? Mount Shuksan is the 13th-tallest mountain Washington state.
Mount Shuksan, Shéqsan (meaning 'high foot'), or Ch’ésqen (meaning 'golden eagle') is located in the North Cascades of Washington State, just south of the Canadian border.
It is one of the highest peaks in the area and can be seen from as far away as Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler. Mt Shuksan is part of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and stands at 9,131 feet tall. The mountain is surrounded by other peaks, such as Mount Baker, Mount Triumph, Mount Despair, and Mount Terror, and further south, visitors can find Mount Rainier, one of the tallest mountains in the United States.
The area is also home to mountains like Snowfield Peak and Hoodoo Peak and famous traverses like the Inspiration and Ptarmigan.
Shuksan also has numerous glacial lakes and alpine meadows scattered across its base. The mountain is highly glaciated, with the most popular route following the Sulphide Glacier.
Facts about Mount Shuksan
To get to Mount Shuksan, visitors will need to do a great deal of driving, even if they live locally. It's fairly remote and can be difficult to reach depending on the road conditions and season.
From Seattle, drive 2.5 hours north, starting on I-5 and taking Cook Road till exit 232. Take a right on Highway 20 and Baker Lake Road to NF-11520. The trailhead is up a poorly maintained dirt and gravel road that's fairly steep in places.
From Portland, take I-5 from the city center north. The drive is significantly longer, just over 5 hours. Otherwise, the directions are the same.
Camping and Lodging
Mount Shuksan is not an easy mountain to climb, and some choose to complete the task over multiple days, camping on the Sulphide Glacier on the way to the summit and perhaps again on the way back down.
To camp on Mount Shuksan, you're going to need a wilderness camping permit, which is limited. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time at one of several ranger stations.
Camping Near Mount Shuksan
There are a few different campgrounds near Mount Shuksan if you're not staying on the glacier, they include:
Douglas Fir Campground
Silver Fir Campground
Cooper Lake Campground
Panorama Point Campground
Sulphide Glacier Route - class 3/4 scrambling, glacier crossings, and steep hiking. This route takes you through the woods, over rocky outcroppings, and eventually steeply up the sides of the mountain to the 800-foot summit block, where you'll scramble or climb to the top.
Fisher Chimneys - class 4, a harder, more dangerous way to the summit of Mount Shuksan. It is a classic route in the area and is second only to the Sulphide Glacier Route. It will include dangerous, icy sections in the late season.
North Face - a very steep section of the mountain that requires climbing 50-degree snow and ice. It is far more serious than the two previously mentioned routes.
Price Glacier - another rarely climbed route that was included in the "Fifty Classic Climbs of North America," a highly influential list that spans the continent.
Other routes include Excitable Boy Southeast Rib and the Northwest Arete.
When to Climb
Mount Shuksan is easiest to climb in summer, usually from June to the middle or end of October, while there is no snow on the summit pyramid.
Mt Shuksan is located in North Cascades National Park of Washington, where the weather is highly variable and can change quickly. During the summer months, the weather around Mt Shuksan is generally dry and mild. Daytime temperatures range from the low 70s to mid-80s, while nighttime temperatures can dip into the 40s and 50s.
The area also receives significant snowfall, especially during the winter months. Snow can begin to accumulate as early as October and continue through late May. Precipitation is common throughout the year, with the peak months being October and November. Be prepared for potential rain and snow when planning your climb of Mt Shuksan.
Safety is paramount if you're trying to climb Mount Shuksan. It is not a hike and, therefore, should not be attempted by anyone without significant mountaineering experience. It requires roping up, crossing glaciers and crevasses, alpine climbing, and scrambling. There are many places where you would be seriously injured if you fell.
Other Mountains in the Cascades
The Cascade Mountains are one of the major mountain ranges in North America. They run from Canada and Mount Garibaldi south to California and Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak. Along the way, it includes Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, the famous Mount St. Helens, the Sisters, Mount Jefferson, and many more peaks.