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Shuksan with Mountain Madness

Livin’ Large on Labor Day

I reunit­ed with long time friends and climbers Kori Bar­num and Dan Medin from Port­land, OR for a lit­tle rock and alpine climb­ing ren­de­vous in the North Cas­cades. Weath­er has been a lit­tle touch and go here in Wash­ing­ton as of late, but we were able to piece togeth­er an awe­some 5 days of climbing. 

Clas­sic Out­er Space. Marc Rip­perg­er photo

Because of the shaky fore­cast, we tried to start our trip off on the dry side of Leav­en­worth. The day was look­ing promis­ing until around 10 am when omi­nous dark clouds moved over Mt. Stu­art and into Ici­cle Creek. We were 2 pitch­es up the route Yard Art rat­ed 5.9. We quick­ly scrab­bled up the 3rd pitch with the clouds hov­er­ing above and rigged the anchor for our descent back down. The rain­coats helped a lit­tle but we walked back to the car a sog­gy mess. To liv­en our spir­its we droved down to a small café out­side of town and enjoyed some hot drinks and bowl of soup. We rang out or wet clothes and saw our sec­ond chance to get back out on the rocks. The next step in Kori and Dan’s climb­ing was to begin tra­di­tion­al climb­ing. We prac­ticed gear place­ment at a small crag and became more acquaint­ed with the fun­da­men­tals of tra­di­tion­al climb­ing in order to start them out climb­ing some easy objec­tives on their own. 

Yard Art before the rain. Marc Rip­perg­er photo

With a bet­ter weath­er fore­cast we decid­ed to bite of the clas­sic route Out­er Space up on Snow Creek Wall. This might be the best 5.9 rock climb in Wash­ing­ton and right­ful­ly so. The climb­ing day was full of var­i­ous types of climb­ing from low scrab­bly 5th class at the bot­tom to excit­ing tra­vers­ing pitch­es and topped off with a bril­liant 300 foot hand crack to the top of the 900 foot wall. We end­ed our climb with a din­ner at Skag­it Riv­er Brew­ery and enjoyed some juicy burg­ers and fries to quote us up for our next 3 days on Mt. Shuksan. 

Clas­sic. Marc Rip­perg­er photo

Upper Cur­tis Glac­i­er. Marc Rip­perg­er photo

Under blue skies we hiked into the low camp at the base of the Fish­er Chim­neys. We spent the after­noon chill­ing out and tak­ing in the beau­ti­ful views of the low­er and upper Cur­tis Glac­i­er. We went to bed with the sound of the rush­ing water off the glac­i­er. Sum­mit day was anoth­er great day in the moun­tains we nav­i­gat­ed through some cravass­es on the Upper Cur­tis Glac­i­er and moved up the ridge like rock stars pass­ing oth­er groups as though they were stand­ing still! We tagged the sum­mit danced a lit­tle jig at the top and let out a lit­tle whoop whoop in celebration.

Hel­l’s High­way. Marc Rip­perg­er photo

We reversed our route back down to low camp. At camp we even had enough ener­gy to dance around to play a song we all had stuck in our heads the entire way up the climb. I thought Dan and I had some pret­ty sweet dance moves but Kori just seemed to laugh at us the whole time. The sun­set was spec­tac­u­lar that evening and capped off a great day in the mountains. 

~ MM Guide Marc Ripperger

Sum­mit of Shuk­san! Marc Rip­perg­er photo