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The Nooksack Traverse

A stunning traverse set among some of the more technical terrain around Highway 542

Ski Touring Severe

35 km
3.6 km
4.1 km
1 day +
Low Point
609 m
High Point
2.6 km
The Nooksack Traverse Map

The Nooksack Traverse is a classic ski traverse set within the entrance to the North Cascades at the end of Highway 542. Being that this trip is all about climbing and skiing it is perfect for both skiers and snowboarders. Heading out this is a tour that lets you visit the Northeast side of Mount Shuksan and link it all the way to Mount Ruth with great north facing descents along the way. Out of all the well know ski traverses in Washington this one has the perfect blend between ascents and descents.


Leaving the White Salmon Parking lot and Mount Baker Ski Resort start skinning east on the lowest groomer until turning off just below the base of Chair 8. From here ride through the Northwest facing trees until arriving in the White Salmon River valley. Start climbing up the main drainage past the debris field and once at around 4,000 feet start traversing west to climb up the tree covered hill. Laying in a few well placed switchbacks soon enough you will be on a ramp that joins the White Salmon Glacier. From here it is a 2,000 foot climb until arriving on the high ridge that separated the White Salmon and Upper Curtis Glaciers.

After taking a few steps on the ridge make your way over to the Upper Curtis Glacier and make your way East climbing just below the summit rock band of Mount Shuksan. After a little bit of time the Upper Curtis changes to the Hanging Glacier and with a mixture of traversing and gaining elevation you arrive on the Northern Shoulder. It is time for your first ski descent riding fall line down the Crystal Glacier and about 500 feet later you will reach the ramp down to the Nooksack Glacier.

Drop into the Nooksack Glacier heading South East and at around 6,750 feet start a hard traverse making your way to the middle slopes of the glacier. When we went there we decided to head down to around 5,200 feet before traveling onto the edge of the glacier before traversing which I do not recommend. Getting to around 4,900 feet and just below the north rock bulge of Seahpo Peak start gaining elevation heading towards the Southwest basin of Icy Peak, we decided to put our camp up here.

Leaving the Southwest Basin of Icy Peak make your way up to the South Ridge where it is an easy climb all the way to the top. Drop into the north face and descend down the Spillway Glacier to around 4,500 feet before making a climbing traverse on the open slopes to the ridge separating Ruth Mountain and Icy Peak. From here it is a mellow climb all the way to the top of Ruth Mountain where it is time for the final descent of the trip. If not in a rush take in the view of your route before dropping into the open slopes. Being that it was my second time on the mountain we started off heading skiers left before arriving in a big gully which we rode all the way into the basin below. After riding as far as we could it was time to skin down the northern side of Ruth Creek loosely following the Hannegan Pass trail.

Since we had started at Mount Baker Ski resort we walked all the way down to Highway 542 and fortunately things went smooth retrieving the car.

To see my trip in the area and more photos check out this link https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/mt-baker-542/nooksack-traverse/



Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between March and April


  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area