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[TR] Stuart Range - various 04/16/2016

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Trip: Stuart Range - various

Trip Date: 04/16/2016

Trip Report:

2016 was a sick spring in the Stuart range for skiing. After spending a good part of the last decade skiing around in the range I have witnessed many healthy snow packs in the Cascades and the Stuart range will remain a little bony in comparison. Just east enough from the crest to miss out on some of the storms I guess. I have had my eyes on a few unskied lines in the range and when I took a little recon ski up into mountaineers creek area I got pretty excited to see the little ribbons of white snow connecting faces like I have been dreaming about! It was on! The next three descents went down between the 16th and 30th of April:


First up was Sherpa peak. I talked Sam Duke into checking out the NE Couloirs.



As far as I know nobody has skied from near the summit along the ridge into the couloir. I always try to honor peaks I am skiing by visiting their summits, Sherpa's summit is guarded by some great low 5th class scrambling with an airy summit.


When you think you are out of climbable rock, you peak around the north side and a sidewalk of snow in the sky allows passage to a overhanging chimney that is easily scrambled through-after removing your pack and sliding through back into the brilliant sun on the summit! It was a great day to be up high in the range!!



Having watched this movie maybe a little too many times, we were excited to try some "dry ski" techniques on our home range! We connected some good skiing with some legitimate scrambling with our skis on. Sam starts our ski off a little ways under the summit after we made the last of our rappels back to the shred sticks:IMG_2663.thumb.jpg.a075c00c6d84190ec60345714dc172f7.jpg

Looking down the ridge to the top of the Couloir, we were able to keep our skis on for all of this section:IMG_2671.thumb.jpg.26b2521d305776f3fa81944dc90ae710.jpg

Here is Sam detuning his brand new skis:


And back into the Couloir we enjoyed pow down to the apron and then fast perfect spring corn down to the valley.



Next up was the NW face of Colchuck peak. On the Sherpa trip Sam didn't have a bike, so on this trip he decided to borrow a bmx bike from a neighbor kid. Neglecting to notice the lack of brakes he ended up burning through the sole of both his shoes on the way out by putting his foot on the back tire to slow down. Style pointz:IMG_2701.thumb.jpg.8137fdb98dcfce071384ddb8f9592ed3.jpg

We also had our good friend Tom Murphy along for this trip, never one to miss a good adventure! I have skied the upper NW face on a couple of occasions as its the standard route from the top of the NEB to the summit. The NEB is a nice little couloir, but the real fun is on the NW face, steep and exposed I have always felt the draw to keep skiing down the face when the traverse back to the NEB starts. We found our way under the face from Mountaineers creek through giant Larch trees.IMG_2719.thumb.jpg.0112472fcc4a41a495d329ee7efbfbc9.jpg

It was a neat corner of the Range none of us had visited before. Not having much info on the route we headed straight up and after a little bit of scrambling we were on the snowfield that I knew connected to the upper faces, it was in the bag!


The climb was smooth and uneventful, we were bumping rap music on the summit before we knew it!IMG_2743.thumb.jpg.f04923e0f18275f69b98d4a138af39a0.jpgIMG_2747.thumb.jpg.539b0df9007d8d51628e520054dda87d.jpg

We put our skis on and Sam went first, the top of the NW face rolls over steeply. Before we knew it Sam came flying back out into view, waaaayyyyy down the face, it was RIPPER!! We all made huge fast GS turns down the exposed face, so good that no pictures were taken. We regrouped where the traverse to the NBC starts, we were electric with stoke. Now for some new terrain. I got to go first and brought us down to the only section we did not ski, it was a short 15m rap off of a little bush.IMG_2763.thumb.jpg.284897f57e502d9471b323888186cdf2.jpg

What we did not see on the way up was a hidden couloir that connected to the lower face, we would not have to rappel or downclimb the sections we had climbed earlier! Just a short hop into the chute and we were home free!



Here is a crappy shot of the face on the way out:


The beers and bikes made descending from a melted out parking lot and road to a locked gate painless...


Last but not least: The mighty Mount Stuart. Skiing off the summit of Mt Stuart is one of the most rewarding descents in the range in my opinion. Its just a magical place to be putting your skis on, and Ulrichs is without a doubt the plumb line! I have skied it three times and have always been curious about some of the other lines on the south face. For this trip I was with my good friend Matt Bowen, we have shared some amazing descents in the cascades together. 


We had to visit the summit, so rather than climbing the line and dealing with climbing the ridge to the summit we opted for an ascent of the Cascadian and then up and over the summit, making a series of rappels and scrambles down into the West Ridge Couloir. The WRC winds its way down allowing for a continuous descent, interesting to note on this day there were two other parties skiing the cascadian, neither of which visited the true summit. The Cascadian this day was melted out around 700 vert from the valley floor, while the WRC had snow all the way down to were we put skins back on to slog back up Longs making for a great alternate descent to the Cascadian if it is melted out and you arent planning on visiting the summit. This thing really is a fun ski!


We had a great time finding our way down the ridge:


A final look back up at the summit ridge:


The snow was so perfect and it was really neat to explore a new place top down:


I really cant recommend this descent enough...its a good one!

Here's to another spring in the Stuart range!



Gear Notes:
ski stuff

Approach Notes:
bikes and IPAs
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Love it!  No TR is too old, I'm glad you came back to this.

And, "dry skiing"....:lmao:

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I'd been wanting to ski the W Ridge notch couloir on Stu for several years, but could never get anybody interested in doing it over Ulrichs.  I decided last year that I'd better get the FD before someone beat me to it, even if I had to go solo.  Then I learned I'd been scooped when I saw the posting about it on Lowell's FD site.  Great eye and nice style getting it from the summit!  


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