Shuksan, Fischer Chimneys route,  August 1997: no wasted daylight

I wrote the following short summary of this climb shortly after I got back.  What I didn't realize at the time was that that previous May I had torn my left ACL while playing frisbee with Katie's class during a class campout/field trip. . This came on the heels of recovery from the second surgery for my broken femur (see "Bad day at Beacon Rock"). After doing Glacier Peak, Mt. Baker with the "Brotherhood", and Shuksan that summer, and spraining my knee twice in the process,  I went back to the Orthopedic clinic and they finally diagnosed the ACL tear.

The Fischer Chimney route is the classic route on the classic North Cascades peak.  The views from base camp alone are stunning, and the route is memorable, especially in the loose exposed chinmeys.  The Shuksan summit pyramid is a delight - easy rock climbing on high-friction Greenschist.


Man, what a climb!  I can't believe it's possible to go 3-for-3 in a season in the North Cascades!  Fischer Chimneys route on Mt. Shuksan is even scarier when it's not a whiteout and you can see all the things you could fall on or into.  This is definitely the hardest climb I plan to do for a while.

But the whole experience was so satisfying and intense that I'm not sure I have any mountain fever left for Mt. Washington in September. . All kinds of terrain:
exposed ledges, gullies, dihedrals, chimneys, 700 feet of simul-climbing up to 5.4 with a wide variety of moves on good rock on the summit pinnacle, snow up to 60 degrees, 30-45 degree hard ice (I slipped once), snow bridges...16 hours worth, dawn to dark, 5AM to 9PM! . Plus an easy/gorgeous pack-in and camp.

Good thing it was a great climb, because I tweaked my left knee again on the descent, so it's a bit swollen today, and 50 yards from camp I sprained my ankle hopping across the tiny stream!  Looks like I could use a few weeks off to recover.  I wasn't the only one - another party member took a scary head-over heels tumble in the chimneys and sprained his ankle even worse.

View from Reflection Lake, near Baker ski area  View from near ski area

View from basecamp, 1995  View from basecamp, 1997

Curtis Glaciers from basecamp  Upper Curtis

Shuksan Arm, the chimneys, and summit pinnacle  Arriving onto Upper Curtis Glacier

S. end Upper Curtis and Hells Highway  escape from hell