USGS Mount Sefrit

June 8, 1997

Party: John Roper, Chris Weber, Bruce Gibbs, Mike Torok, Matt Burton , Bette Felton, Dave Housley




Nach-ak-tsen is the 6931-foot summit, 0.4 miles west of and hiding Mt Sefrit, north of Shuksan. It is quite impressive from the Nooksack Highway 542, visible shortly before the road crosses the river to climb to the Baker ski area.


Henry Custer of the US Northwest Boundary Survey clearly labels this peak on a drawing he made 138 years ago, on June 14, 1859 ! This drawing (reproduced in Northwest Discovery , edited by Harry Majors , Feb.1984, v.5, no.21, p.73) also depicts “Spech” (now Icy) and “Tschuska” (Shuksan), and is redrawn and labeled below. These were the original local Indian names for these peaks. Nachaktsen is not shown on current maps, though the name is erroneously applied by Beckey to a summit SE of Sefrit in the Cascade Alpine Guide.


Our party met Mike at the washed out bridge over Ruth Creek at the end of the Nooksack River road, elevation 2156'. We found a dicey, potentially life-threatening series of slippery logs over rip-roarin' Ruth Creek , and regained the Nooksack River road/trail, now seriously overgrown on the other side.


Following the obvious west ridge of Nachaktsen, logged to 3100 feet 50 years ago, then up through that usual dreary old-growth stuff, we hit snow at about 4200'. Ducking around the south side of the rocky summit-tuft of Nachaktsen, we finished the last 200' vertical from the east over class 3 rock and ledges. The summit was uncairned.


To SLR (satisfy loop requirements), we continued on to Mount Sefrit (7191') and exited down the “Gray Hair Couloir” which baby-booms north from the saddle between Sefrit and the “Mountain of Middle Age” (6966') to Ruth Creek. This involved one short rappel around a waterfall.


We were happy to run into a group of Bellingham Mountaineers who not only gave us a ride back to our car, but also had opened up the Ruth Creek road three days before with a chain-saw party that cut through at least 50 downed trees. Give these guys a free Mt Baker-Snoqualmie NF parking permit!


Bette served us all a way-too-healthy cake to celebrate Bruce's 60 th Birthday before we drove home.


The most amazing human story of this trip was that of Chris Weber, the nicest and strongest of the new-wave Bulgers. A year ago Chris was cutting nearly all of the snowshoe steps for us on our winter trips as a warm-up to his climbing McKinley/Denali on June 12, 1996.


Then about Halloween, last year, he developed a cough, and some shortness of breath. This finally led to a diagnosis of a pericardial effusion in December 1996. A liter (quart-plus) of fluid was drained from the sac around his heart.


This helped for a while, but in early February 1997 he became acutely short-winded, requiring a chest-splitting operation that again revealed a crushing amount of fluid around his heart, and the cause: a non-Hodgkins lymphoma invading the right ventricle.


He started receiving chemotherapy with four drugs that stopped the growth of the cancer and all fast-growing normal cells. He lost all of his hair, and in March ‘97, barely made it out and back on a flat quarter-mile hike with us to Delta Rock.


Quite unbelievably though, Chris was along with us on this Nachaktsen trip! True, he wasn't exactly the speediest Chris of old on this climb, but he made it—all 5700 vertical feet up and down--and only four months after his diagnosis! This guy is my hero. He should be an inspiration to all cancer survivors.