Mt. Stuart - Lara Kellogg Memorial Route (FA)Date:
Yesterday Dylan Johnson and I climbed a route on the NE Face of Stuart that I believe is a new variation. We had made an attempt last Saturday but bailed up the Ice Cliff Couloir after realizing we weren't prepared for the difficulties. The succesful ascent yesterday took about 19.5 hours car-to-car, using bikes for Mountaineers Creek Road.
The route we took ascended various bits of previous routes, with what I believe were two new ice pitches. The lower portion of the face is comprised of horizontal bands of vertical to overhanging rock seperated by snow ledges. The first rock band we climbed via a short pitch of WI4. The second rock band had a spectacular free-standing ice pillar, but it looked very difficult (probably WI6) and at risk of collapsing, so we traversed right to join the original route (Mahre-Prater, August 1959) for one pitch. This had a move of aid, and there were 3 old pitons. From the top of the aid pitch we traversed back left to the ice line, and climbed the last rock band by a difficult waterfall pitch that I felt was WI6. It was not very long, but steep, narrow, and very chandeliered. Perhaps in some years it is nonexistant, and perhaps in some years it is WI4.
Above the rock bands we joined the Nelson-Klewin May 1978 route for the middle snowfield and a short step of ice. We diverged from the 1978 route to the right for several hundred feet, and then joined back up with it for the finishing bowls and gullies to the ridge crest (this finish also established by Mahre-Prater, 1958).
Although I think our route is only a new variation and not an independent route, it is an aesthetic line with challenging ice climbing on Stuart's cleanest face. We wanted to name it in honor of a wonderful friend and excellent climber who Dylan and I both were fortunate enough to know. Following the tradition from Mt. Index, we would like to call this route the Lara Kellogg Memorial Route in the hope that the name will help carry Lara's memory to future climbers in the Cascades.