RMI's climb of Mt. Shuksan's Sulphide Glacier is a classic alpine ascent with a challenging summit pyramid.
- Venture from from the thick forests to the glaciers of the Northwest.
- Establish camp in the heart of the North Cascades on the edge of the Sulphide Glacier.
- Scale the rock and snow of Mt. Shuksan's prominent summit pyramid.
Mt. Shuksan (9,131') has become an iconic mountain for climbers in the northwest with its rugged beauty, central location in the North Cascades, and rich mountaineering history. Our guides find it to be one of the most enjoyable ascents in Washington and are always eager to introduce climbers to Mt. Shuksan's charms.
The Sulphide Glacier route has something to offer everyone: an approach through pristine forests, moderate glacier travel, an exhilarating and airy summit, and a view of the surrounding North Cascade peaks that can't be beat.
The climbing is moderate in nature but you can count on feeling the wind beneath your feet as you ascend the final rock and snow pyramid to the summit. We lead this route at a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio ensuring that you receive a high degree of hands-on instruction prior to the climb and also have a small, efficient rope team during the summit ascent. Our cramponing, ice axe and rope travel skills training for this climb takes place right outside our tent door on the Sulphide Glacier.
This climb is well suited for the beginning climber who wants to learn basic climbing skills and experience a classic summit, or the more experienced mountaineer who has not yet ticked this northwest icon.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America’s first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and alpine climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.
Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains, and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.
Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our programs truly memorable.
RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful climbs without compromising safety. Each climb includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the program. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI’s top priority.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or [email protected].
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or send email to [email protected].
We highly recommend travel insurance for this trip. Your travel insurance policy should include trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, and evacuation.
Navigating through the different options for travel insurance can be challenging. To help make the process more straightforward, we have partnered with Harbor Travel Insurance because some of their policies are specifically designed for adventure travel and offer coverage for remote areas, and for activities like mountaineering, climbing, skiing, and trekking, without any altitude restrictions. Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance also provide travel insurance.
When purchasing Travel Insurance, here are a few items to consider:
- Read the fine print. Travel Insurance will refund you when canceling for a covered reason for any non-refundable cancellation fees. However, there are exclusions, so make sure you understand the “covered reasons.”
- Confirm that your activity is a covered “activity.” Not all travel insurance policies will offer coverage for activities such as mountaineering, climbing, skiing, or trekking adventures. Policies can also exclude coverage for activities due to the gear used (crampons, ice axe), for activities that go above certain elevations, or for activities in a particular region of the world. If there are exclusions, you may need to add an “Adventure” or “Sports” package to cover your activity.
- Verify that your state of residence is allowed with the policy that you are purchasing. Not all insurance companies offer policies in all 50 states.
Harbor Travel Insurance covers the following critical benefits:
- Evacuation to a nearest appropriate hospital once hospitalized.
- Trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, sporting goods, baggage loss, emergency dental, AD&D and more.
- Completely integrated one-stop program with a single contact for emergency services to travel assistance and insurance claims
- 24/7 access to paramedics, nurses and military veterans.
Harbor Travel Insurance is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, a medical and travel security risk company. Their team is comprised of special operations veterans, paramedics, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, former intelligence officers, insurance actuaries and global security experts with dozens of years of experience in theaters around the world. The Redpoint network covers the globe, making them uniquely equipped to provide elite rescue travel insurance – in every sense of the word.
You are responsible for your own transportation to the program's trailhead. Most climbers will fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) the evening before the program and rent a car for the 1 3/4 hour drive. The town of Mt. Vernon is approximately 76 miles and an hour and twenty minutes from SeaTac depending on traffic congestion. You will find a few more hotel and breakfast options here than in Sedro-Woolley. The small town of Sedro-Woolley, "The Gateway to the North Cascades", is approximately an hour and forty minutes from SeaTac. Our meeting place is Bingham Park, 322 W Munro Street in Sedro-Woolley. We meet at 7:00a.m. Click here for driving directions.
After a team meeting we drive to the climb's trailhead. You will need a Northwest Forest Service parking pass to leave your car at the trailhead. Passes are $30 and valid for one year. There may be an opportunity to leave some vehicles at the Ranger Station and carpool with other team members. Northwest Forest Service parking passes are available for sale at the ranger station.
Ride Share: If you are participating in a climb and are interested in sharing a ride, please post your information in the "Ride Share" forum of your North Cascades Discussion Board by logging into your RMI Account.
Spend the night in either Sedro Woolley or the nearby town of Mt. Vernon.
For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well-being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program. If you would rather not bring the guide gratuity with you on the trip, you can send a check or call the RMI office to pay with a credit card upon your return.
North Cascades National Park has over 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the lower 48 states. More than half the glaciers in the 48 states are concentrated in this mountainous wilderness region called the North Cascades.
General Information on North Cascades National Park.
North Cascades National Park map.
Communities & Activities outside North Cascades National Park, click here.
This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.
Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life And Then Go Climb A Mountain
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For the Mt. Shuksan - Sulphide Glacier Climb, you are preparing for:
- Steep hiking, climbing and glacier travel with a 45-50 lb load
- A 12+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques requiring core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Below are approximate outlines of the program's physical demands that will be helpful in planning your training schedule and goals:
Total Climbing Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
|DAY 1 — Hike to Shuksan High Camp|
4 - 5 Hours
Gain = 3,500'
45 - 50 lbs
|DAY 2 — Mountaineering School|
20 - 25 lbs
|DAY 3 — Summit Day|
8 - 10 Hours
Gain = 3,125'
Loss = 3,125'
6 Miles Round Trip
20 - 25 lbs
|DAY 4 — Descent to Trailhead|
2 - 3 Hours
Loss = 3,500'
40 - 45 lbs
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
No acclimatization is necessary for this program.
What You’ll Need
A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought process behind each item is much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program takes into account factors such as: seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature. Therefore, certain variables (additions and/or subtractions) are inherent within such an all-encompassing list. We make every effort to recommend only top of the line clothing and technical gear and it is never our intention for you to buy or rent unnecessary gear.
The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.
RMI Guides concur on the potential necessity of every item, thus every item on the list is required at gear check. However, guides may also have suggestions derived from their experience, some of which will vary from a given list. The guides’ recommendation whether to bring along or leave behind certain item(s) comes during the gear check, when the team first meets. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item. If a guide presents the option of leaving behind certain item(s) on the list of required equipment, it is for a reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, perceived strength of the party, or desired pack weight.
Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for an ascent. It does not exist because of the multitude of variables faced by climbers throughout the climb. Please follow this equipment list closely so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. Keep in mind the list is not black and white, fine tuning will occur once you meet with your guide. Have a great climb!
If you are planning on renting gear for your climb, there are two options. Please note rental items are not shipped. Pick-up/Drop-off is at the store location.
Northwest Mountain Shop - 820 Metcalf Street, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284 | Phone: (360) 854-8761. Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase. Equipment can be reserved online.
Backcountry Essentials - 214 W Holly Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 | (360) 543-5678. Many of the required equipment items are available for rent or purchase. Equipment can be reserved online.
The Equipment Shop - American Alpine Institute - 1513 12th Street, Belllingham, WA 98225 | (360) 671-1570. Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase. Equipment can be reserved online.
Pack & Travel
Sleeping Bag & Pad
We recommend a bag rated between 20° and 0° F. Allow ample room for movement. We recommend down over synthetic for its light weight, warmth, and packability. If climbing in April, May, June, or September, or if you know you sleep cold, consider a 0° F bag.
The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
Transceivers are required on all North Cascades programs before July. The RMI Office will notify climb participants if the transceiver is not needed for their climb after July 1st.
120 cm sewn sling ("double-length runner").
Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
Cloth or surgical face mask for use in situations where 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained.
Glacier glasses are protective sunglasses that provide close to 100% frame coverage (wrap-around frames and side shields ensure no light can enter from the top, bottom, and sides of the glasses) and transmit less than 10% of visual light.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
Light weight liner or softshell gloves. Lighter colors absorb less sunlight while still offering UV protection.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light, and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, softshell, down, and synthetic options.
Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Light weight, light-colored, hooded baselayers (sun hoodys) are highly recommended for sun protection.
Your down or synthetic jacket should must have an insulated hood and be able to fit over the rest of your upper body layers. It will be worn primarily in camp and at rest breaks on summit day
We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
Synthetic or wool.
Non-insulated, waterproof shell pants must be able to fit comfortable over your baselayer bottoms and softshell climbing pants. Full side zippers or 7/8 side zippers are required so that shell pants can be put on while wearing boots and crampons.
A light weight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.
A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing. Not needed if using a boot with an integrated gaiter.
Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc.), should work just fine for this climb.
First Aid & Medications
Our guides carry comprehensive medical kits, so keep yours small and light. We recommend a selection of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, Moleskin and blister care, medical tape and/or duct tape, basic pain reliever, and personal medications.
See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
Packable plastic bowl. Collapsable models can work but must be handled carefully to avoid unintended collapsing. A lid is a great feature.
Insulated outdoor-style mug. We recommed a model with a removable lid, which helps retain heat and prevent spills. You may also choose to use 0.5L insulated bottle or a 0.5L nalgene.
A spoon or spork made of durable plastic or anodized metal. A long-handled spoon can be nice, especially if eating from a freeze-dried meal pouch.
One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic).
Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops. Make sure to select the 30-minute version.
This will be your personal trash bag.
Heavy-duty trash compacter bags for use as waterproof pack/stuff sack liners. You can also use a a waterproof pack liner.
Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, and wet wipes. Bring a quantity appropriate to the duration of your trip.
We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
We recommend SPF 15 or higher.
Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.
Practice using this before coming on the climb!
One clearly-marked wide-mouth or collapsible bottle for overnight use.
Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.
A small power bank, enough to charge a phone or e-reader several times.
We recommend bringing a selection of comfortable clothing to wear while traveling as well as pre- and post-trip.
Purchase travel insurance.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Arrange transportation and lodging.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the best shape of your life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes and anchors, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a cell phone for emergency contact.
On the Mt. Shuksan - Sulphide Glacier you will need 3 mountain lunches, 3 dinners, and 3 breakfasts while on the mountain.
Mountain lunches are eaten during short breaks throughout the day. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner! Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
The importance of having foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, toffees, Life Savers), gummy bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Single-serving instant oatmeal or Cream-of-Wheat makes a good main course fare. A variety of granola bars, pastries, fruit and a hot drink mix of coffee, tea, cocoa or cider are suggested.
Freeze-dried entrees are very convenient; it is best to be familiar with their taste (and the effects they may have on your stomach) in advance of your program. Instant soups and Cup-o'-Noodles are popular supplements to your main course. As an alternative, you might consider bringing a cold main dish such as chicken, pizza, sandwiches, pasta salads or stir-fry. We also recommend your bring hot beverage mixes such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or cider.
Don't worry too much about the nutritional aspect of meals; concern yourself more with a high calorie intake. Most importantly, choose a variety of foods that you like to eat. One of the normal, albeit disconcerting, adjustments to altitude is a slight loss of appetite.
Ample cold water is available for drinking and replenishing water bottles. Hot water will also be provided for your meals (freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc) and hot drinks. When planning your menu, don't bring any items that require extensive preparation, cooking or simmering. We are able to provide you with boiling water, but do not have the ability to actually cook food items.
Deposit Payments: A non-refundable deposit payment of $400 per person secures your reservation.
- Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express*, e-check/ACH, check from a U.S. bank, or wire transfer**.
Balance Payments: The balance payment is due 120 days before the start of your program.
- Balance payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express*, e-check/ACH, check from a U.S. bank or wire transfer.**
- A payment reminder is emailed approximately three weeks before your payment due date. If your balance payment is not received 120 days before the start of your program, your reservation will be canceled, and all program fees forfeited.
- Payment in full is required when registering for a program within 120 days of the departure date.
*There is a 3% surcharge on all credit/debit card transactions. Credit/debit cards are not accepted for payments of $10,000 or more.
The $400 per person deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable.
- All cancellations require written notification. Once the RMI Office receives your written notification of cancellation, the following policy applies:
- If you cancel 120 or more days before the start of your program, the $400 per person deposit will not be refunded.
- If you cancel less than 120 days before the start of your program, no refunds will be issued.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of these programs, and the amount of preparation time required for this program, we strictly adhere to our policy and cannot make exceptions for any reason.
We highly recommend travel insurance for this trip. Please see our Travel Tab for details.
Change of Date
Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 90 days prior to your departure date for a $200 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 90 days before departure.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently hazardous. Managing risk is RMI’s number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering, but they cannot eliminate them. Objective hazards include rockfall, icefall, avalanches, slides or falls by individuals and rope teams on steeper slopes, weather-related problems including cold, heat, high winds, and other unnamed dangers that can occur while climbing.
You are choosing to engage in an activity in which guided and non-guided climbers have been injured or killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Each Participant is required to share in the responsibility of the safety and success of the team. For this reason, we ask that each Participant:
- Possess the necessary physical and mental fitness required for this program.
- Review and understand all program information.
- Update the RMI Office if there are any changes to your health or medical information before departure.
- Be properly attired and equipped as outlined in the Equipment List.
- Act in a considerate manner toward all team members.
- Help minimize our impact on the environment and follow appropriate Leave No Trace practices.
- Describe yourself, honestly and accurately, in terms of fitness, health, skills, abilities, and your equipment to your guide staff.
- Communicate with your guide staff if there are any changes in your medications or health while on your program.
- Adhere to the advice of your guide staff.
- Continue to self-assess throughout the program, evaluating your fitness, health, skills, and abilities in terms of the demands required of the program.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a program or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if the RMI Guide Staff determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for, or capable of participating in the program, or for any other reason that may compromise the safety, health, or well-being of the Participant or the entire group. If this decision is made, the Participant will not receive any refunds or credits and will be financially responsible for all additional costs associated with an early departure, including but not limited to, evacuation, transportation, hotel reservations, meals, etc.
Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) does not tolerate harassment or mistreatment of our participants or employees. Inappropriate conduct under this policy may include conduct that creates a disrespectful, intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for a participant or employee. Engaging in such conduct is a violation of this policy.
RMI may consider conduct to be in violation of the policy even if it falls short of unlawful harassment under applicable law. When determining whether conduct violates this policy, we will consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment.
Violation of this policy may result in removal from a program, as well as refusal to provide services indefinitely. We place the utmost value on the safety of our participants and employees. Please report any incidents to RMI management.
All participants must be 18 years old at the time of registration.
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire group may have to turnaround without reaching the summit.
Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route conditions, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in a refund, credit, or reschedule.
RMI's program schedule and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, group strength, terrain, or other environmental factors, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including but not limited to, increases in program fees, changes to program schedule or itinerary, and changes to guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program. Once the program has started, the Lead Guide will decide on any changes to the itinerary, including ending the program early if the continuation of the program may compromise the safety, health, or well-being of the group.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather, route conditions, or for any other reason. In such a case, we will make every effort to reschedule the Participant on a different program date. If rescheduling is not possible, we will issue the Participant a refund for all program fees paid to RMI, less any non-refundable payments made on behalf of the Participant in preparation of the program, and prior to the cancellation of the program. RMI cannot be responsible for any non-refundable expenses the Participant incurred in preparation for the program (i.e., airline tickets, hotel reservations, rental cars, equipment purchases or rentals, etc.).
Once a program begins, there are no refunds or credits for weather-related cancellations, or for a program that may end early due to weather, route conditions, or any other circumstances that may compromise the health, safety, or well-being of the group. Furthermore, if the Participant decides for any reason not to begin a program, or to discontinue a program at any time, no refunds or credits will be issued. The Participant will be responsible for all additional costs associated with an early departure, including but not limited to, evacuation, transportation, hotel reservations, meals, etc.
The Participant is responsible for any costs incurred due to COVID-19, including but not limited to, any testing fees or costs associated with medical care and/or quarantine such as hotel accommodations, meals, separate transportation, etc.
Land Costs are provided as a package, and refunds or credits will not be issued for any unused costs.
The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality services provided to the Participant by other companies in connection with the program, including but not limited to, the services provided by airlines, hotels, rental cars, and transportation companies. In addition, RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program. The Participant will be responsible for all costs associated with any travel delays, missed connections, or missing baggage that requires additional arrangements (separate transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, etc.) to be made on your behalf for you or your baggage to rejoin the program.