Shuksan: The End of the Road for the Cascade Volcano Tour

Mount Shuksan from the Northwest.

Shuksan: The End of the Road for the Cascade Volcano Tour

Alpine

Shuksan: The End of the Road for the Cascade Volcano Tour

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Mount Shuksan from the Northwest.

Mount Shuksan from the Northwest.

What a long strange trip it’s been.  We expected to deal with troughs and onshore flows and have to squeak our tours in on the back end of storm cells for most of the trip.  At the start, we often thought ourselves fools for setting out on a journey to the Pacific Northwest in late April  and crossing our fingers for high pressure.

Ironically, it was the high pressure we craved that shut us down on our last couple peaks.  After getting powder and perfect turns on Baker the day before, we drove the short stint to the White Salmon Lodge at Mount Baker Ski  Resort.  The forecast heatwave had finally arrived and we were at a loss for finding a safe route up Shuksan’s Northwest side.

The Shusan Arm stretches out toward the Mount Baker Ski Resort. Plenty of wet snow debris.

The Shusan Arm stretches out toward the Mount Baker Ski Resort. Plenty of wet snow debris.

Shuksan is a one day push.  But the isothermal slop that covered the White Salmon Glacier and the Shuksan Arm was making us think twice about the avalanche danger.  

Our strategy shifted to breaking the trip into two early morning chunks, skiing when the snow was the strongest.  We would set out early our first day, get to the top of the Shuksan Arm and hang out in the sun while the snow melted into unstable glop.  The next morning we would summit at dawn and ski down after the cool night air had strengthened the snow a bit.

Great plan, but not all great plans have great outcomes.  We skinned in the first rays of dawn from the White Salmon Lodge toward the White Salmon Glacier and the Shuksan Arm  we could feel how soft the snow was already.  By 7:30 am  we were sinking in to our boot tops when we got off our skis.  This wasn’t what we had in mind for our last tour.

Getting an early corn lap in just shorts.  Photo: Matt Paul.

Getting an early corn lap in shorts and no shirt. Mount Baker Ski Resort. Photo: Matt Paul.

But you have to know when to make lemons into lemonade.  We made the call to bail off Shuksan, get a few good turns in on the Mount Baker Ski Resort’s empty slopes and end our trip with a Rainier Beer at the White Salmon Lodge.

A great end to a great trip.

A great end to a great trip.

Here’s a recap of the mountains we skied on this trip:

http://unofficialnetworks.com/mount-baker-skiers-dream-97301/
http://unofficialnetworks.com/mount-rainier-gib-ledges-fuhrer-finger-97266/
http://unofficialnetworks.com/mount-adams-big-hurt-95335/
http://unofficialnetworks.com/mt-hood-cooper-spur-backcountry-conditions-94268/
http://unofficialnetworks.com/mt-saint-helens-conditions-94235/
http://unofficialnetworks.com/backcountry-conditions-report-mt-shasta-92589/

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