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LandRunning

Best season for Stuart, via Cascadian Couloir?

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Someone years ago told me that the best season to climb Stuart via the Cascadian Couloir scramble route is late spring, when there is still enough snow that you can climb the boot track rather than choss. So I've been planning a climb in mid-June with a few scrambling friends.

But others have argued that scrambling the top part of the route is a lot easier when it's snow free. 

Opinions?

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reckon you just have to pick which part of the hike will potentially suck, the middle or the top - there's no time like the present though :)

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The top will have some steep snow below the false summit to contend with in June and some punchy snow wherever it is thin. 

I've used the Cascadian a few times over the years, always to descend, and always mostly snow-free.  It is pretty fine without snow, but I'm not picky.

Each season will have its own challenges, but I think the major deciding factor should be how comfortable your group is on steep snow that could be icy.  Are you ALL good with crampons and axe?

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I agree with the comments above. I've also only descended the Cascadian but recall that there is a section below the false summit that is quite steep, exposed, and wil likely be snow covered for a while.

Travel on snow can definitely be faster than on talus or scree, but steep snow can be very hazardous if you don't know what you're doing. You need to be solid moving over snow that can be anywhere from mush to firm to solid ice. You should also be proficient at using an ax to self arrest on soft snow and know when and how to use a rope when self arrest won't be possible. Just because other people solo steep snow doesn't mean you should blindly do so. 

All that said, if you're going to get out into the mountains of Washington you're going to encounter a lot of snow, so becoming proficient at dealing with it will serve you well far beyond an ascent of Stuart.

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yup, folks definitely get killed on that steep snow section below the false summit, and it stays there pretty far into the summer as i recall

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I agree with the above comments, the section below the false summit is steep and a fall would be bad, so here is a thought. Go late season (August - September) after the snow has melted out. Rather than take the Cascadian Couloir, hike past the turn off and continue east on the Ingalls Creek trail and take a path that climbs the ridge between the Cascade Couloir and Sherpa Basin. The trail is much better than CC. You can cut back west once above the the nasty scree and sand in a decent talus field below the false summit.

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Thanks, all!

The weather forecast for our mid-June window is currently for rain and snow, so we may opt to postpone anyway. 

I'm pretty comfortable and competent with ice axe and crampons, but at 56, I'm no longer testosterone poisoned. So I would say:

pleasant and safe climbing conditions  >  frustrating but not death-dealing scree in a couloir   >   objective hazard of death on steep snow without a safe runout

All of which makes me incline toward a later trip.

 

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