Glacier Peak has been on my list for quite some time now. A large part of this is because it is the last of Washington’s glaciated volcanoes I was yet to climb, but also because it had become an insurmountable obstacle. The first time I tried to climb Glacier Peak in 2017, the partner I was supposed to go with could not get the time off. The following year, the same partner damaged his Achilles and did not feel as though he had recovered enough to give it a shot.
When 2019 rolled in I thought I would just give it a go solo. So I took four days off from work, prepped the best that I could and headed off to the North Fork Sauk Trail-head. Eager to get going I quickly hopped in the back of my car and passed out. I woke at 4 am, double checked my bag, put on my mountaineering boots and headed up the trail. However, about 20 feet up the trail I ran into the sign pictured on the left.
In my haste to get to the summit I had forgotten a basic principle of prepping: checking trail conditions. Somewhere between frustration and growing disillusionment with climbing this mountain I found my resolve to complete the entire climb in two days instead of four the next weekend. Otherwise, I had a feeling that events outside my control would continue to ruin my attempts.
Marmots Were Everywhere Along The Trail
I started early on Saturday morning so that I would have plenty of time to make it all the way to glacier gap. The hike up to white pass was as pleasant as always. The trip down the foam creek trail was easy too. Unfortunately, there was a heavy layer of fog tainting the landscape the entire time which made taking my mind off the massive elevation gain lying ahead nearly impossible.
The toughest part of the day came once the trail ended. The several basins prior to glacier gap were long and full of very similar looking rocks making navigation difficult. With the fog looming all around me, seeing where I was going became a luxury. I was thankful for the GPS and map that I had. I saw several groups confidently wandering away on their own towards directions I was sure would take them off-trail. I tried to warn them, reminding them that with in the presence of unclear skies like that day, navigation is crucial.
Basin Before Glacier Gap
Cairns Helped Alleviate My Route Doubts Through The First Day
I arrived at glacier gap at around 3:30 in the afternoon, took a moment to enjoy the exquisite views of the peaks below and quickly ate dinner. I wanted to get to bed early so that I could get the earliest start of all the groups on the mountain. So I was in bed by 5pm with two hot water bottles in the bottom of my bag. My hope was to make it to the summit so that I could watch the sunrise.
Panorama Of My Tent at Glacier Gap
Bridge Along The North Fork Sauk Trail
Marmot Near The Trail Intersection With The PCT
Trail Junction Of Foam Creek and The Climbing Route