Mt. Shuksan via Fisher Chimneys

June 29th - July 1st, 2022

With an ascent line that culminates in an airy ridge climb against the stunning backdrop of endless glaciated peaks, the iconic Mt. Shuksan is one of the premier mountaineering objectives of the Pacific Northwest. The Fisher Chimneys route adds additional interest with several pitches of scrambling and steep snow.

Mt. Shuksan dominates the view from the Mt. Baker Ski Area – there’s been perhaps no other mountain that I’ve spent this much time looking at, and dreaming of climbing, than this one.

With its hanging glaciers, sweeping ridgelines, formidable rock faces and fluted summit pyramid, Mt. Shuksan has a far more rugged, almost Himalayan character in comparison with the volcanic cone of its neighbor, the much larger Mt. Baker .


The postcard-perfect view of Mt. Shuksan reflecting in Picture Lake off the Mt. Baker highway may make it the most photographed mountain in the North Cascades, but I think the most dramatic view of this most picturesque of mountains has got to be of the Nooksack Cirque from the east. 

This photo was taken while on a climb of Icy Peak, just across the valley from Shuksan. The skyline is formed by the rather appropriately, but unimaginatively titled ‘Jagged Ridge’.

The Approach

The Fisher Chimneys route begins at the Lake Ann trailhead on the Mt. Baker highway. A two-hour hike through the Swift Creek valley gets you to Lake Ann, from where the real fun begins.

Just past Lake Ann, you get a magnificent view of the southwestern aspect of Mt. Shuksan, and this is where the scale of the climb really hits you. 

Gazing up towards the summit almost 5,000 feet above you, the sprawling Upper Curtis Glacier dominates the scene as it plunges off the cliff onto the Lower Curtis Glacier below.


The Fisher Chimneys are a series of steep gullies that can be scrambled up to gain the Shuksan Arm and the White Salmon Glacier. The chimneys consist of moderate Class 2 and 3 scrambling, with a few steep sections that have fixed rappel anchors.

Sweeping views of Mt. Baker behind you as you climb the chimneys – it’s hard to look away.

After a long day of hiking and scrambling with our heavy packs, we set up camp at the top of the White Salmon glacier. This spot had a great view of the summit pyramid.

The Climb

After a 3 am alpine start, we traversed the Upper Curtis glacier and made our way up Hell’s Highway – a ~100-ft section of 50-degree snow.


Sunrise dawns on Mt. Baker as we ascend the Sulphide glacier.


Scrambling up the western ridge of the summit pyramid, we got this dramatic perspective of a pair of climbers ascending the southeast rib, a 5.6 rock climb.

Deliciously exposed movement approaching the summit.


The thing that’s so great about living close to the mountains is being able to get out on adventures on a frequent basis, and over time, develop a sense of familiarity and connection with the landscape.

I started off this essay with a photo of Shuksan’s rugged eastern flank, which I took from across the Nooksack Cirque while climbing Icy Peak. That was one of my first climbs in the North Cascades, and I remember being blown away by the rugged wildness that was just a couple hours’ drive away from home.

A few years later, from the summit of Mt. Shuksan, I got the flip side of that view. Lookin’ good, Icy Peak!