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The team GP 4 2048

Ken’s High Five — Part Three, Glacier Peak

Glac­i­er Peak, our objec­tive this trip, is the most remote of Washington’s vol­ca­noes. It is a place of beau­ty, soli­tude, and per­fect kite fly­ing weath­er. For us, the trip up Glac­i­er Peak was also a chance to raise mon­ey for a wor­thy cause, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty for one mem­ber of our team to final­ly com­plete his goal, start­ed in the 1980s, to climb all of the north­west volcanoes. 

Walk­ing toward White Pass.

After a morn­ing of gear checks and dri­ving, our crew of Tom, Joe, and Ken start­ed off on the North Fork of the Sauk trail through mas­sive old growth towards camp 1. After five miles of flat easy walk­ing the trail steep­ened and we began fol­low­ing an avalanche path upward. Lupine, Indi­an Paint­brush and Fire­weed sur­round­ed us as we ascend­ed a series of switch­backs towards White pass. As we neared our camp, Sloan peak came into view set against a fore­ground of alpine wild­flow­ers. Upon arriv­ing at camp, we set­tled in, ate din­ner and went to bed look­ing for­ward to our first glimpses of the moun­tain the next day.

Tra­verse of White Moun­tain sad­dle reveal­ing Glac­i­er Peak.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, we tra­versed to a sad­dle of White Moun­tain and were treat­ed to a per­fect­ly framed view of Glac­i­er Peak. Still over five miles from the base of the moun­tain, we pressed on and dropped down onto the White Chuck glac­i­er. This glac­i­er once cov­ered the entire basin but has now retreat­ed to a tiny cor­ner and we could cross on snow­fields to Glac­i­er Gap. Glac­i­er Gap, a ridge line between the White Chuck and Suiat­tle glac­i­ers, would be our camp for the next two nights, as we would be mak­ing our push for the sum­mit the next day. We took an after­noon nap and prepped for our sum­mit attempt the next morning.

The team of Ken, Joe, and Tom.

Ken, a retired NOAA weath­er fore­cast­er, did a phe­nom­e­nal job whistling up good weath­er, and we awoke to a night full of stars. Leav­ing camp with light sum­mit packs, we ascend­ed the Ger­dine Glac­i­er to below Dis­ap­point­ment Peak and tra­versed past the rock fall of its cliffs to the Cool Glac­i­er. After com­ing up this glac­i­er, we found our­selves at the base of the pumice ridge. A short sec­tion of pumice walk­ing took us to the sum­mit. This sum­mit meant a lot to our team; for Ken, it was the final sum­mit of his goal and a great way to end three weeks of climb­ing in the Pacif­ic North­west. Tom was rais­ing mon­ey to sup­port the Alports Cen­ter and was able to get a pho­to with their flag on the sum­mit. Thanks to our con­tin­ued per­fect weath­er, we spent an hour on the sum­mit tak­ing in breath­tak­ing views of Rain­er, Shuk­san, Bak­er, and a sea of oth­er sum­mits below us. Last but not least, we found time for a cel­e­bra­to­ry kite flight!

Kite fly­ing on Glac­i­er Peak.

After our descent from the sum­mit, we had the after­noon to relax and take in the beau­ti­ful scenery from Glac­i­er Gap and look back at Glac­i­er Peak. Over the next two days we head­ed out the way we had come, across glac­i­ers, through wild­flower mead­ows, and along ridge lines. At the trail­head, we hopped in the car and head­ed for home, with a well-deserved stop for burg­ers in Dar­ring­ton. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all the team and espe­cial­ly to Ken for fin­ish­ing his final north­west volcano!

~ Words and pho­tos, Mad­ness guide Zach Keskinen