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Stuart ice cliff glacier route


Stephen_Ramsey
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If you go for it...go fast. The bottom half is threatened constantly by the ice cliff itself, and the top half is threatened constantly by a huge cornice this time of year. I also thing shit can sluff off from the walls forming the north ridge.

 

I was up there and interested in doing the route a few weeks ago, but came to the conclusion I would enjoy it more a bit later in the season when it was more ice than snow and also a bit less threatened by that cornice. Whatever you decide, be careful and have fun.

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Stephen_Ramsey said:

Thanks, Alpinfox.

 

Does the Ice Cliff Glacier share much of the same approach as the Stuart Glacier Couloir? If so, would you recommend snowshoes for the approach? Appreciate your advice.

 

Cheers,

Steve

 

Steve, yes, the approach is the same up until the point where you begin actually climbing up the ice cliff glacier itself. I did the approach yesterday, albeit up the wrong branch of the mountaineer creek, and snowshoes were not nescessary. Some moderate postholing was to be had lower down in the forest (I bet last night's hard freeze solved this), but above about 4000 feet the snow was hard as a rock. Awesome walking conditions.

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i did this route a few years ago. we approached via the stuart lake trail, but went left (east) off the trail well before the lake and crossed several boulder fields, popped out near the sherpa glacier. it is great climbing, the descent down the sherpa demanded some attention, an hour or two of unroped downclimbing. still the quickest way down and out.

if you get good beta on the approach and know about the snow conditions on the approach, i would go for a day car to car. if not, bivy in the morain near the route and next to the north ridge.

one of the most visually interesting places to be, a pretty wild looking area up there.

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When do you plan on going? When I get home from work, I could probably find a picture I took about 2 weeks ago that could show the cornice.

 

In my opinion it looked like you could get past it, but you would have to work for it. It appeared overhanging enough that you couldn't climb over it due to it being made of fairly soft snow. It looked like your best bed would be to attempt to climb the rock on either side of it or get yourself a good belay and started tunneling through it smile.gif Of course, this was what I was guessing from a mile or two away, so it may be completely different than what I thought. I think if you are determined to do that route and you get all the way to the cornice, you'll find a way through it. wink.gif

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no it wasn't technical. it was just a constant 45 degrees or so with no breaks for about 90 minutes. i was concerned about being exposed to falling stuff, but nothing came down. it was no problem, just demanded some attention. if it was icy it would be trickier.

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There will be a cornice at the top of the couloir, but the gully is not technical at this time of year though some complain that it becomes icy in late season (I've been down it with one axe between 4 climbers in September and did not think it that bad). On the glacier, there can be some crevasse issues but not, I don't think, in May.

 

You will have to be careful and good visibility would help to find the right place to get around Sherpa Peak to the start of the couloir, and avalanche precautions apply.

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I don't remember anything that I would call a "gully" on the descent. When I did it in late May last year it was a casual plunge-stepping affair with a couple of open cracks that were easily avoided. It's fairly steep, so if icy you might want to put in a picket or two while above the cracks. There are a couple of spots where it wouldn't be good to start sliding, but I felt very comfortable without pro, just crampons & axe.

 

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Steven -

Yes, I was talking about the descent couloir down to Sherpa Glacier. I don't think you will find any north or east facing couloir that doesn't have a cornice where it pierces the crest of the Stuart Range right now.

Matt

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when we came down the sherpa glacier coulouir two 1/2 weeks ago, it was glissadable from top to bottom. there was no cornice where it meets the ridge and was very casual. we could not even locate the 'schrund where the couloir meets the glacier. i understand this is a concern later in the season.

 

there were big cornices on the main stuart summit ridge up high near the summit, but from what i could tell, there did not appear to be much of one where the ice cliff glacier couloir comes up to the ridge. IIRC, right up at the top, the ICGC is in the shadow of a rock pinnacle that seemed to have prevented a cornice from forming.

 

'course, there's been a lot of wind and snow since then, and we were mostly concentrating on getting down, so please be aware that I may be full of shit.

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Stephen_Ramsey said:

I'm looking for information on the Stuart Ice Cliff glacier route. Do folks think it would be reasonably doable this time of year? Consensus seems to be that it is about 50 degrees in steepness. Is that about right?

 

Check out http://www.mountainwerks.org/alexk/climb/TRicecliff.htm

 

This would be fine time to do the route if you want the lower route in easy conditions. We found the route to be really nice rambling, not particularly hard or scary. A good one-day mountain tour of the N side of Stuart. Mattp might be shocked, but none of us though much about the hazard or the scare factor of this route. The Ice Cliff Glacier has been receeding for years and changed the character of the route. Unless you tackle the ice cliff directly, which you dont have to at all, there is no danger from it when passed on the left. The final couloir would be about as hard as your climb up NEBC on Colchuck RE: top-out if there is a cornice. However, since you seemed to tackle that sucker pretty well... The decent down Sherpa Glacier is uneventful. It looks steep from above, but once your in the decent couloir, its all good.

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Methinks the retard sounds familiar.

 

I was up on top last Sunday, descending from the summit to Sherpa col. There were some fairly large cracks about a yard back from the lip over the ice cliff glacier couloir. That thing should be calving big time this week if it is going to warm up like it was supposed to - I haven't been watching the weather though.

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