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Jeff

[TR] Mount Stuart - West Ridge 3/11/2005

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Josh and I set out to climb the west ridge of mount stuart on March 11th thinking it would be a good warm-up fot the coming season. Friday night at about 11:00 o'clock we arrived at the teneaway road. the road was bare and dry for about one mile after the pavement ended. ice and snow composed most of the road surface at this point - nothing the ol honda couldn't handle. somewhere too far from the trail head we were temporarily thwarted by a felled tree. we stopped and pursued to tug on the monstrosity until it was obvious that it wasn't going to move under our feable hands. So out came the ice axe and incessant chopping. Thirty minutes later we split through the damn thing and moved half of it off the road. Another five minutes of driving brought us to a land slide and there was no chopping through this stuff. we parked the car and slept for a good two hours. We were hiking towards the trail head at approximately 3 am. luckily the land slide was close to the trail. the first thirty minutes of hiking was nothing short of a bitch. the snow was such that you were not sure whether you could walk on the snow or not, it seemed to hold our weight for maybe 1 second before punching through. we continued this way up the trail until out of the trees. the snow was much more consolidated here and we were able to travel quickly. we reached the west ridge just around sunrise.

 

initially the climbing was cake. we moved quickly unroped and into the first coulior. the coulior was filled with hard snow and some ice so we decided to move on a running belay. after reaching hte top of the coulior we removed our crampons, climbed up the rocks, and traversed right towards long john tower (LJT). the climbing was easy alghouth we had to keep to the left of the coulior because it was filled with snow and ice. we also had to keep careful attention to our foot placements because there was a good amount of ice covering the rock in unsuspecting places. being slightly off the main route there was an occasional 5th class move to keep us awake. we reached teh point where we could see LJT and would have to begin traversing a second colior to the LJT col. unfortunately the way up to the col was solid ice. I got to say it looked pretty frigging difficult from where we were. Instead of flailing on the ice we decided to continue straight up the west ridge crest and work our way right towards the col. I took the lead up the ridge, it was approximately one pitch of enjoyable sunny climbing. Josh seconded up and once on top we traversed right towards the LJT col. at the col the remainder of the route was drenched in snow and ice which made for some slow going. we continued by sometimes working of set belay and sometimes on running belay.

 

I'm not sure what time it was at this point but it was getting later in the day, we had since ran out of water and getting off this bitch before dark seemed like it wasn't going to happen. regardless we kept pushing on. we hit the summit pyramid and I led up the first pitch. climbing was easy but made a bit difficult in places because of the mixed conditions and our dehydration. Josh seconded. we were not sure where to go from this point. we though that perhaps we went the incorrect way so we rappeled down and traversed farther south. After doing so we learned that the spot we just rappelled from was the correct way. so back up we went. Josh took the lead this time. I seconded. I was feeling a bit pooped so Josh took the second lead as well. we topped out just as the sun set - son of a bitch.

 

Down the soth rib we went. feeling a bit releived that we were able to find the descent route before dark. Neither of us had been on stuart prior and hence didn't know exactly where to go other than from what we had read in "selected climbs". good thing we found some foot steps. we followed the footsteps until we lost them. continuing down the rib brought us to what we thought was cascadian coulior. we descended down and dwon and down until there was nothing but cliffs. we ascended up and up and up back to the ridge top. we descended further south on the ridge until we came to a steep snow slope and some cairns. this seemed like the way to go except for the steepness, which probably doesn't look so bad when the snow is gone and there is daylight. we threw on the crampons and down climbed the snow slopes. I had no idea what time it was but it was late. josh went down first and I gave him a hip belay. we had two pickets between us and used them for the runnign belay. when the rope hit me I began down. kick-kick-axe, kick-kick-axe, tink tink tink... wait a minute tink-tink-tink is the wrong sound, what the hell was that. I looked down and I saw my crampon skating down the slop into darkenss. shit that thing was brand spanking new. oh well. kick-thump-axe, kick-thump-axe. we descended a ways down to a col between stuart and some other rock formation. it wasn't sherpa but another blurp just before the stuart-sherpa col.

 

At the col we found the foot steps again which was comforting in one sense and disturbing in another because the steps went off the east side fo the south rib... ah crap. that can't be correct my car is the opposite direction and so is the descent route. the east face looked steep and loaded with snow. no way were we going that way. After a bit of debating whether or not to freeze our asses off in a snow cave we opted to continue down whatever coulior we were currently standing on. I headed down one rope length to have a look down the coulior. yup its a coulior, and yup I can't see shit. who knows where this will take us. oh well, I headed back up to Josh fiddled around with rope and gear and we began to belay eachother down the coulior. the lead would take the two pickets and set them, the seconder would belay off an axe and a good stance. once the rope hit the second would continue down on running belay and upon hitting a picket the leader would stop and setup another belay. we continued this way until the slope chilled out a bit and we were able to walk facing downhill. blah blah blah we got to some water, filled up, that was great. rejuvenated we packed up the rope and crampons and headed into and endless expanse of talus, snow, and bushes. I'd rate this BW3 (Bush Wacking grade three - find the website for details).

 

a long time later we came to the valley floor. now where the hell are we? Josh claimed to have a good idea so I followed ihm around for a while until I wasn't sure either of us knew where we were. we decided to find teh ingalls creek and head upstream. Josh found the creek without too much trouble. we headed upstream and always were looking for signs of a path or human existance. I don't know how many times we got excited about possible foot prints which for all we knew was a mark left in the snow by a size nine foot shaped bear shit. the sun came out and solved our troubles by lighting up the surrounding peaks, we had our bearings. we headed directly for ingalls pass. probably longs pass would have worked better but the way we went worked out well. we hit the ridge in the sunlight, saw some goats, and eventually made it to the top of the ridge and were able to look down into the ingalls creek area where we had been thirty hours prior. the morning sun was perfect. I was dragging my ass at this point. Josh was still going pretty strong. a short while later we were back at the car and headed home in search of double cheese burgers fries and shakes.

 

good trip. I goota love those long endurance climbs.

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Wow. Glad you got out all right, despite stumbling around in the dark. I might have bivied had I been in your shoes, but I realize the the prospect of a chilly bivy can be pretty bleak, if you can keep moving.

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Great job! 30-hour climb - can't beat this!!!

 

Based on the last two reports, it sound like

Stuart is in a bad shape now.

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...feeling a bit releived that we were able to find the descent route before dark. Neither of us had been on stuart prior and hence didn't know exactly where to go other than from what we had read in "selected climbs". good thing we found some foot steps. we followed the footsteps until we lost them. continuing down the rib brought us to what we thought was cascadian coulior. we descended down and dwon and down until there was nothing but cliffs. (emphasis added) we ascended up and up and up back to the ridge top...

 

...we descended a ways down to a col between stuart and some other rock formation. it wasn't sherpa but another blurp just before the stuart-sherpa col.

 

At the col we found the foot steps again which was comforting in one sense and disturbing in another because the steps went off the east side fo the south rib... ah crap. that can't be correct my car is the opposite direction and so is the descent route. the east face looked steep and loaded with snow. no way were we going that way. After a bit of debating whether or not to freeze our asses off in a snow cave we opted to continue down whatever coulior we were currently standing on. I headed down one rope length to have a look down the coulior. yup its a coulior, and yup I can't see shit. who knows where this will take us...

 

 

Good job! thumbs_up.gif Your story is frighteningly similar to my first trip up Stuart. However, I ended up spending the night somewhere up there at the top of a cliff and froze my ass off in shorts and a space blanket. yellaf.gif

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Great read, way to go fella's. Josh is like the energizer bunny with the prospect of burgers and fries.

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