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The Real Nick Sweeney

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Posts posted by The Real Nick Sweeney

  1. 12 hours ago, ScaredSilly said:

    When writing a description one wants concise details that makes it easy for others to find all of the information needed. Which of those three routes would one who is unfamiliar wth the area search for to learn about the finish??? The right side gully is primary route, the others including this one are variations. If there is something relevant about the other routes, such as the Ramp and Pencil joining up then list them as you did. 


    That’s just like, your opinion, man.

    • LMAO 2
  2. What are your thoughts on the commitment grade of this route? I’ve seen it mostly referred to as a IV, but I recently spoke with some guides who strongly felt that it was a V. Nelson/Potterfield give it a V, curious what others think. Obviously, it doesn’t matter at all at the end of the day... this is an ass-kicker!

  3. Trip: Johannesburg - 1957 NE Rib

    Trip Date: 08/01/2020

    Trip Report:

    Here is my report with photos for the mighty Johannesburg: Spokalpine

    Amazingly, we shared the face with Karsten and Matt (Karsten posted a trip report on CC right after their climb) but used different starts.  As a result, we never even saw each other on this giant, complicated route.  We started an hour earlier than Karsten and Matt, but they reached the bivy hours before us(!) and continued up and over the summit.  Karsten and Matt used the traditional 1951 start while John and I took a lower start, far right of the waterfalls.

    Gear Notes:
    Singles .4-1, nuts, ice tool, aluminum crampons, approach shoes

    Approach Notes:
    • Rawk on! 2
  4. Amazingly, my partner and I climbed the 1957 route from bottom to top from 8/1-8/2 and never even saw Karsten and Matt, despite starting only one hour earlier! The 1957 start adds a few hundred feet of rock and jungle climbing, and we did belay three pitches before reaching the snow bowl where the 1951 and 1957 almost intersect. During the time it took us to reach that point, Karsten and Matt must have overtaken us. Nice work guys.

    I’ll be posting up my own report this week. Congrats to you guys and all who have climbed this face... I have new respect for anyone who takes on this challenge!

    • Rawk on! 1
  5. 21 hours ago, seattleskiier said:

    We were right behind you guys. 3 parties in 2 days is pretty crazy. We had a small hang up after the knife edge, when it steepens before the crux. It seemed like going up the tower led to a more spicy alternative, instead we descended climber's left then up a series of 3rd class rock up to the crux. It seemed like there was rock fall that took out a section of what should have been cruiser 3rd/4th.

    How did you guys approach that section, if you remember?

    We did the same as you. The team we climbed alongside climbed the tower and they said it was proper 5.8.

  6. It actually felt completely reasonable as a single push objective! I’d recommend this strategy to most teams considering the route this time of year. Later in the season, when more shenanigans are required, a bivy would be a good call.

    You’re right, I didn’t get any photos of the mess that we had to go through to get to the ridge... it was rather involved. 😅

  7. Trip: Mt Stuart - Direct North Ridge

    Trip Date: 06/22/2020

    Trip Report:

    I finally ticked off this crown jewel of the Cascades! We did deal with some tough early season conditions, including snow and ice on the "Slab with Crack" as well as the section between the gendarme and the summit.  I've included the text of my report below.  Full report with photos can be found at https://spokalpine.com/2020/06/29/mt-stuart-direct-north-ridge/


    John and I climbed the Direct North Ridge of Mount Stuart on a “leisure” schedule from June 21-23, 2020.  It was the culmination of years of honing my mountain craft in the Cascades and abroad; this one meant a lot! The journey started in 2016, when I saw Stuart in person for the first time from Colchuck Peak. I was spellbound by the rugged beauty of the mountain with its springtime coating of snow and ice, making the North Ridge even more dramatic as it soared directly to the summit.

    It is possible to climb the North Ridge using an “abbreviated” start, gaining the ridge crest at half-height via a rocky gully rising from Stuart Glacier – this version of the route is included as one of the “50 Classic Climbs of North America” and some say it is the most commonly climbed version.  To me, a direct start climbing directly from the toe of the ridge creates a much more pure, aesthetic and logical line to the summit. The Direct North Ridge instantly became my goal.  Three months later after I first laid eyes on it, John and I made the Southern approach via Ingalls Creek for an attempt on the route.  Cresting Goat Pass, we stopped to stare at the route in profile. The scale of the climb was jaw-dropping; we quickly turned around and went home.  We were not ready and we knew it, but we made other excuses.

    Four years and many climbs went by before John and I decided that it was time to put this project to bed. This time, we trudged up Mountaineer’s Creek to Mount Stuart. Swarming insects, brutal heat, boulder hopping and a off-trail bushwhacking brought us to our plush back country campsite below Stuart’s Northern aspect. A few other climbers passed by our camp on their way out; they were the last people we would see for two days.  We had the entire valley, and mountain, to ourselves.  Cheers to weekday alpinism!

    With the Summer Solstice only two days prior, we had a long day of daylight on our side.  Planning to blast the route and descent in a single push from camp, the route was already in full sun as we started hiking up the moraine at 5:30am.  John volunteered to lead the first pitch, which was a great warmup for the day.  The “slot” on this pitch is as awkward as people say… hang the leader’s pack off of a cam below the slot and belay just above.  The leader can lower a loop of rope to the follower and haul the packs past the slot.

    I took point on the uneventful second pitch and John fired the 5.9+ third pitch, the hardest pitch on the climb.  After a fourth belayed pitch (perhaps 5.7), we changed gears to simulclimbing mode.  This part of the climb was truly a gift, featuring moderate climbing and unbeatable alpine ambiance. Rock and ice thundered down Ice Cliff Glacier every few minutes, reminding us that the mountain is always in charge. Our staircase of clean granite carried us 1600 feet higher into the cobalt sky.

    After a few hours, I lead over a high point in the ridgeline and felt my stomach drop.  I was looking at the well-known and typically easy “slab with crack” pitch, but it was partially covered in snow and ice. There were no signs of prior passage and I questioned whether or not I would be able to climb it in these conditions. I quickly realized that I had to give the pitch my absolute best effort – bailing from this high on the ridge would be an absolute nightmare.  The mountain was testing us even more than I expected.

    I cautiously led up the pitch, placing a solid cam a few feet below the snow patch before strapping my pathetic, worn-down aluminum crampons on my approach shoes.  Evaluating the snow patch, I realized that it consisted of about 1 inch of ice against the rock with a couple of inches of snow on top.  My ultralight ice axe would not be able to excavate the crack to place protection.  The first few feet were the thinnest, and I willed the snow patch to stay attached to the mountain.  With full commitment, I stepped onto the ice and quickly power-stepped my way up, trying to maintain my upward momentum.  Racing to the top, I slapped my hands on the lip and mantled to a perfect belay stance.

    The final section of mid-fifth class climbing was still very snowy. Several miserable pitches with snow blocking the easiest route cost us a lot of time. Since it was dark already, we chose not to hurry, shifting our focus to finding the safest route among the snow and loose rock.  Several times, I found myself at a dead-end, requiring me to reverse the last few moves and find another way.  This was crushing in my exhausted state! We pulled onto the summit just at 11:30pm as the temperatures dropped.  Regardless, I was incredibly happy and felt no stress about our situation, just focus and joyful resolve.  We could handle this.  The night sky was ablaze with stars and I was living my ideal atop this massive, complex peak.

    We began toiling our way down the East Ridge on snow, then 4th class rock, and then a lot more snowy rock.  It was extremely slow going in the dark and we settled in for a short bivouac once we found a good platform. Bouts of violent shivering and continual harassment from the local snafflehounds provided entertainment until the sun rose again.  In the morning, we continued traversing the East Ridge and descended the Sherpa Glacier, which was a tedious but straightforward descent option.  The hike out to the car was quite the death march, but it always seems that way!

    Gear Notes:
    Doubles from fingers to #3.

    Approach Notes:
    Approach via Mountaineer's Creek and descent via the Sherpa Glacier.
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