Mileage: 3.4 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 950ft/5220ft
Map: Green Trails No 14 Mount Shuksan, my GAIA
Favorite Eats After Hike: North Fork Brewery
4/23/2017 We were up at the Mountaineers lodge for the weekend practicing our snow travel skills and today we got to do a short scramble up to Huntoon Point. We didn’t have our snowshoes because of the nature of the class but this is most definitely a snowshoe worthy trip.
The weather was less than ideal when we set up from the end of the parking lot but this is only way I have seen it up here and this is my 3rd attempt at views on this hike. There is still SO MUCH SNOW! Conditions made for plenty of postholing so we tried to stick to the road and established path as much as possible because the snow was much firmer there. Step off and you will be thigh deep without snowshoes. And it is that heavy, wet, sloppy kind of snow that will refreeze around your foot and stick you to your step in knee wrenching fashion. Fun times.
There are several paths to follow up from the road to Austin Pass at 4800ft, cutting that long switchback to the parking lot at Artist Point at 5100ft, depending on how steep you want to head up. The drifts of snow are high and it is easy to sink in if you venture off on your own.
We made it up to Kulshan ridge and headed east .7 miles towards Huntoon Point, careful to stay well clear of the cornices built up on the left side (we wanted to practice ice arrest on the way DOWN, not up). We did this gingerly since the edges of the snow were hard to see with the cloud and snow we were walking through.
We spent about 30 minutes at the top of Huntoon, imagining what the views would look like and preparing to glissade off the top. We had fun rolling snowballs down to slough off the loose snow on top, a kind of avalanche control.
On our way back, we were treated to a slight clearing and peeks at the surrounding mountains while we had fun finding slopes to glissade down, including the final stretch of road back to the parking lot as it offered the firmest snow and fastest speeds. So beautiful! And, we only saw a handful of other people today, it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Directions: Take exit 255 off I-5 in Bellingham and head east on Mt. Baker Highway (SR 542) for 55 miles to the Artist Point parking lot at Heather Meadows. The trail begins at the southern end of the parking area near the restrooms (upper area).