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[TR] Stuart- W Ridge 8/14/2004


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Climb: Stuart-W Ridge


Date of Climb: 8/14/2004


Trip Report:

TR: W Ridge Stuart, 8/14/04


Left town solo on Friday, 13th, seeking an adventure and an escape to the neighbor's loud music and raucous crowd. I arrived at the Teanaway Road end late, and crawled into a sleeping bag, but the warm temperature did not allow easy sleep. Another party arose in the middle of the night, leaving the TH by headlamp at 2 AM. I assumed they were headed to Stuart. After finally drifting off to a fitful sleep, I awoke at 5:20, and was on the trail by 6.


45 minutes later I reached Ingalls Pass. Continuing to Ingalls Lake, I found 2 packs hanging from a tree, and fresh Ridge Rest® impressions nearby in the dirt where no camping is allowed.


Before leaving Ingalls Lake, I drank and refilled 1 liter of water - all that I carried, but, I must say, less than what is desirable. At Stuart Pass I encountered 2 who were unsure whether they were climbing Stuart via the N Ridge or the W Ridge. One of them was hiking in flip flops. I moved on.


In the W Ridge Couloir, I passed another party. One of them asked me if I had climbed the route before? "Yes." Did I know where the route went? "I hope so." No further questions were asked, but the questioner did mumble something about routefinding reportedly being the scariest part of the climb. When I summited, I looked back and saw climbers who I assumed were that party at Long John's Tower Notch, at 10:15. I signed a scrap of paper in the big Mazama summit register box.


I was parched and low on water, but the summit area of Stuart had no snow. Descending to the Cascadian Couloir, I encountered a couple coming up and the man seemed anxious for "summit beta." He told me that 2 times before, he was turned around at some unclimbable impasse, and wanted to know the way from the false to the true summit. I did the best I could, but really had no idea what he was talking about. After them, I stopped at the snowfield below the false summit, but no running water, so I ate snow, and put some in my Nalgene.


Descending to Ingalls Creek, I encountered a Mountaineers party that I knew were going in to do the Cascadian. The party included the original owner of the rusty old Blazer that I recently purchased. I gulped water and chatted horsely about Blazer clutch longevity with my dry voice.


Leaving them, I humped over Longs Pass to arrive back at said Blazer at 1:30 PM. The frappuccino I had stored in the stream never tasted so good. Perhaps more memorable than the climb itself was the cast of people I encountered along the way.


Water note: The only liquid water on the trip is found at Ingalls Lake and Ingalls Creek (not counting the Teanaway at the TH). A snow patch without running water is available below the false summit of Stuart, and is the only other source.

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welcome back! I deeply sympathize with the parched descent down cascadian couloir. I all but sprinted for one of the feeder streams down in the trees after hours of toil in the heat. I also have had some strange encounters while descending that route.


thanks for the story.

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I think I may have been a mistake in mentioning my times because that seems to be the thing on which people focus. I suppose it may be fast for a middle-aged guy trying to keep at it, but it is hardly any record. I know from other sources that Miles Smart did the trip in 5:45.


That climb is certainly no big deal given it has only a handful of low class 5 moves. But having done it before on almost the exact same day of the year, I did find a big difference in snow coverage. Before, a bit below the summit, I found a sizable patch which had running water below. Now: completely dry. At a couple spots on the route up, I found snow patches before. This year: zero. Yes, it is dry; plan accordingly.


The people I met also made the trip a bit surreal. FWIW, the only people I met along the way that I can say I'd feel comfortable joining, was the Mountaineers party. I was most surprised in those other parties by the guy with flip-flops. These were not Tivas, but el cheapo-KMart and well-worn. I do not know what alternative footwear that guy carried, but the idea of heading to the N Ridge Stuart in them sure seemed scary to me, even if he had strap on crampons.

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I was most surprised in those other parties by the guy with flip-flops. These were not Tivas, but el cheapo-KMart and well-worn. I do not know what alternative footwear that guy carried, but the idea of heading to the N Ridge Stuart in them sure seemed scary to me, even if he had strap on crampons.


Don't underestimate "el Cheapos". After having an bad ankle sprain last summer, those where all I could wear in the mountains, "except maybe ski boots" that allowed me to walk confidently without the fear of re-rolling it. I actually got pretty used to them, and ended up summiting many a high crag in them. Just sucks when the front catches and folds under so you catch air and eat trail dust in front of 25 3rd grader girls. Not to worry, I kicked everyone of their asses. boxing_smiley.gif

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Norman, I soloed it last year having only done the upper headwall before and took some pro and 30m of 7mm rope just in case. The lower section is fairly straight forward using Beckey's pictures. Long Johns Tower took a little searching to find the step across. The upper headwall should probably be done with the exposed short rising traverse onto the northside. I tried to avoid it by traversing 150' to the right to some cracks and a dihedral, but had to place some pieces to move thru a 30' section.

Don't ask my wife whether she thought it was foolish to solo it sight unseen.

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If you have a nose for routefinding, you should do OK, provided that you are cool with big exposure on the moves you will have to do. The route has many variations that work, and, I swear, the highest number of bivi spots per foot of vertical that I have ever seen. You will never be more than a few minutes from one. If you want specific beta, feel free to email me.

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If you're soloing it, routefinding is not an issue (provided you're not dumb enough to solo up anything that you aren't sure you can solo back down). If you make a wrong turn, just try again. No big deal.


You can waste hours routefinding and still not be benighted. Just you probably won't beat SEF's time.

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