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[TR] Mt. Stuart- W Ridge 5/28/2005

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Climb: Mt. Stuart-W Ridge


Date of Climb: 5/28/2005


Trip Report:

Saturday, 5/28 was forecast for 90 degrees--and it WAS warm.

Ingalls Lake Basin was snow-filled though trail up to ridge crest was snow free. Lake still frozen but not cross-able. Ingalls Peak is snow-free.


Take the SECOND couloir, which is largely snow free, up to the ridge crest then pass on south-side of ridge tower. Some of the bivy sites are snow free, but there's plenty of snow for water still. I can't believe just how many walled-in bivy sites there are on this route.


Crossing and ascending the next couloir involves snow with sub-surface ice. The chimney to the left of Long John Tower has snow in it still but looks entirely reasonable. We headed back up to the ridge crest and got some great pose-down images (on film so sorry, not posting any time soon).


More snow-covered ledges to the West Ridge Notch. Stuart Glacier Couloir looks fine from above, has a little ice at the 'bulge' on climber's right. Would be great if it were cooler.


Now here's the question for those who've done the route in the summer: departing the notch, you go up ~100' until it steepens in a headwall. There is an obvious right-hand departure to the south face and an obvious left-hand departure to the north face. We went left and it quickly became mixed climbing/traversing because of the amount of snow still on the north face. Sloppy, wet snow with ice or rock underneath, you know the blobs that you can't ever be sure will stay adhered to the rock. Not too difficult but run out and precarious. We traversed/simul-climbed until we crested out of an obvious gulley. It was a little over a full (60m) rope length. Challenging in approach shoes w/out crampons and one ice axe. I thought with the end of winter I'd be done with the screamie-barfies.


Anyhow, is this on-route?? Some other guys opted for the right hand variation onto orangish rock and it looks like they were stymied once they got on the south face. We never saw them again.


After reaching the crest we traversed/downclimbed ~10m onto a chossy gray ledge system and found a couple old pitons as we ascended a stair-step of low-fifth cracks to the summit proper.


Still snowy over to the false summit and then glissadable snow all the way down the Cascadian until you reach the large boulder field/shoulder and cross into the gulley that takes you down to the Long's Pass Trail. North side of Longs Pass still has snow just below the crest.


If the heat stays with us, expect it to be snow free shortly.


If you go, have a great time and i hope the snow condition beta helps you choose your gear and style.




Gear Notes:

Montrial D7 approach shoes all the way, minimal rack, half rope, light axe, lightweight crampons taken but not used because snow so warm. This route is completely soloable and can be an easy day...though it'd be nice if it were snow-free.


Approach Notes:

Teeanaway snow free to trailhead, trail snow free to ridgecrest. Post-hole-fest if warm all the way to Stuart Pass; stay high/follow the summer trail even though you'll post-hole.

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Tim -

That was my housemate Dave that was nearby on saturday. Did you get any pics? Sounds like your partner didn't enjoy it as much as you did..

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At first glance I thought we may have run into you on the route - as my partner and I opted for the south side variation at the headwall, and we did indeed get stymied there for a quite a while - but eventually thrutched our way up the waterfall/crack system onto easier ground - and we were climbing on Sunday rather than Saturday. Anyhow - I think we may have found a rap anchor that the party you mentioned (or someone) left behind - a yellow alien and a nut equalized on a red cordalette. This was one of two bail anchor set-ups we found there, so getting stymied on the south side when there's abundant melting snow above the crack systems may not be all that uncommon.


Anyhow - It would be interesting to hear from the party you mentioned to learn if they made it up, or chose to descend the couloir beneath the south side variation. The conditions we encountered there really slowed us down, and after reaching the summit we ultimately decided to bivy near the top of the Cascadian rather than continue down. We bivied about 1/2 mile away from the start of the route on Saturday night, so we had enough gear to deal, but sleeping elsewhere surely would have been preferable.


I will add a TR and pics later, but in case I don't get around to it soon - I would add that most parties will probably want to bring crampons and an ice axe, and be prepared for sopping wet or iced-in cracks for a while longer. We brought a bit more pro and gear for this outing than I would have for a summer trip, and it came in mighty handy - ultimately making the difference between being able to aid through a few feet of submerged cracks that would have shut us down otherwise.

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Howdy Geordie! We only exchanged hello's as your roommate and I passed each other but I do recall shouting down to them as they appeared on the south side--feeling like a doofus and wondering if they had a better clue than me because my north face traverse was wet, cold, run out, and required more concentration than I had anticipated the route would need. But I'll say this, the BD Raven Ultra (thanks to Roger Strong) is light and cams pretty well in cracks. Last I saw of those two was from the crest of the S. Ridge right near the summit. They were belaying some wet slabby crack system...if it was their anchor found on Sunday, well that sucks. But it does make me wish I'd found the booty...I could use another yellow alien.


Regarding the route, we soloed all the way to the north face traverse. Yes, my partner didn't enjoy that part and it would probably be a show stopper for some. She also noted that the finishing cracks on the south side, while not terribly hard, would probably be hard for the 5.7 leader. Maybe that's why there's so many bivy platforms out there. What's sick is that after the tricky snow stuff her energy level went out the roof while mine sunk into the gutter.


We left the car at 4.30am and were back by 7.30pm with plenty of lolly-gagging and pow-wowing on the summit with some older fellow who had his 10 year-old daughter/granddaughter with him. Wish I were that cool when I was 10. We had a seven-piece rack, a 40m rope, and I'd have taken the hexes too but I wasn't allowed. If the snow is firmer then, yes, crampons would be essential. As it was I chopped a few steps instead of taking the time to pull out the crampons.


Again, the (product endorsement) Montrail D7's, while wet most of the day, were awesome approach and climbing shoes.


If you can move fast on/off trail and feel comfortable soloing on 4th class with lots of exposure I'd recommend ditching the bivy gear and doing it in a day. Much lighter, less tiring. However, if you're less comfortable with constant movement, exposure, route-finding, and steep snow I'd recommend the two-day approach and take the time to enjoy a night out in a spectacular setting. It's been about a year since I've been able to alpine climb like that and...wow...Mt. Stuart is an amazing place to go.


Geordie, the pics are so-so. I've gotten lazy with shooting digital and the ones i really wanted to turn out are a bit over-exposed.




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