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KaskadskyjKozak

[TR] Stuart - West Ridge 8/16/2008

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Trip: Stuart - West Ridge

 

Date: 8/16/2008

 

Trip Report:

Stuart has been on my tick list for several years now. So when FWB asked me if wanted to climb this w/e, I proposed Stuart. Now, everyone says the first time you climb the West Ridge of Stuart, you will get lost and have to bivy with a 99.999% certainty, and neither of us had been on this route. What to do? Pack for a day trip, car to car, and freeze somewhere on the mountain? Bring a bivy - well, and then you WILL bivy. The forecast was looking good - very warm and clear on Sat, but there was a chance of T-storms on Sat night. Hmm. Well, weighing the options, we decided on a carry over.

 

We left work early on Fri, but had some traffic issues and had boots on the trail at 6:40 - an hour later than we'd have liked. It was around 80 degress even then, and I had a freshly-consumed Del Mar mondo burrito weighing heavily in my stomach. It took about 3.5 hours to get to and around Lake Ingalls. Fortunately, the moon was full and as darkness fell we were close to the lake and made a way around the left shore fairly easily. FWB got 5.5 liters of water for the next day, and I got 4. That made my pack about 37 lbs and his around that. We then walked about 5 minutes farther to an established site and crashed at about 11 pm. We had some company - some goats kept coming around and we threw rocks at them to put some fear into them. This tactic proved futile. Also of note - there was a huge fire on a hillside towards Lake Stuart - a little left (W). We could see glowing red spots, and then, periodically, HUGE flames flare up - probably a couple hundred feet high.

 

08_0815_012.jpg

 

Alarm was set for 5 am, and we were on our way before 6. About an hour into the hike, I released the brown hostage and at that time a party of 4 caught up to us. We knew a couple of guys and chatted with them, playing tag on and off on the approach. We made decent time up to the 2nd gully and the scrambling was fun and uneventful. Temps in the morning were at least in the high 60's and soon into the 70's, but we were in the shade all the way to Long John Tower, so the scrambling was very pleasant. There was smoke billowing from that fire, but it appeared to not be destined to blow our way. A helicopter was flying around the fire most of the day. Views were clear and beautiful.

08_0816_046.jpg

 

At LJT we dug out our route descriptions. Go left and it's low class 5, go right and it's class 4. The other party said it was "easy" class 3/4 in their description, so we opted to get a closer look. Looked good. We put harnesses on just in case... and a group of 2 jackrabbits came up and started up ahead of us. The party of 4 also jumped in. That sealed it. We started up. Now, everyone went a little right of what I expected and the first bit seemed to be more like class 5.easy, and looking down, well a fall would be bad. Holds were good though. We then moved left into a dirty gully, as shown on the route description. This was nasty. Shit falling everywhere. We waited for the 6 ahead of us to clear and started up. On my first move, I grabbed a great bucket hold, and tested the bottom rock - open air below it due to erosion, but it seemed good. I committed my weight and SHIT!, three rocks each about the size of half a football broke loose, bounced off my shins, and scared the shit out of me. Some blood, future bruising, but thankfully no more. The remaining scrambling up was not any more pleasant. Next time, I'll rope and go left up the low 5 option. :-(

 

Break time. Pull out route descriptions again.

08_0816_085.jpg

 

Parties ahead were gone. The group of 4 went high, we thought we might drop a little and try and traverse to the WR notch. Bad plan. We burned an hour or more and ended up having to climb back up. We were aware that folks tend to drop too low, but didn't do that - we never got into bad terrain, but just couldn't find a way around the rib/spine in front of us. Finally we found ledges up high leading to a few exposed moves to a notch. Was this the "airy traverse" we had read about? After the LJT fright, I asked FWB to pull out a rope and we quickly belayed the 15 feet of exposed moves, and then put the rope away.

 

OK, WTF is the WR notch? Everything looks different up here... and unclear. We could not get the route descriptions we had to jibe with what was in front of us. To make a long story short, we ended up approaching the notch from a dirty gully directly below it. We burned some time doing this - but it was not too bad.

 

08_0816_113.jpg

Now, at least we think we found the notch. It was smaller than we expected, there appeared to be a step down to the north side of the ridge with a boot path up. OK, whatever, let's check the climbing route description. Oh, and what time was it? I can't remember now... I think it was like 2 or 2:30.

 

Get out the rope and rack. Which way? Nothing makes sense. But, there's the last of the group of 4 up above us on a ledge to the climber's left, facing South...

 

Rather than try to make the route description agree with what we did - and, oh, yes, we tried to make that happen, I'll just describe our pitches.

 

Pitch 1: facing S at the/a notch on the W ridge, we climbed up to the left and then right to a small ledge. This was on the W side of the pyramid - we did NOT cross over onto the N side ever. At this ledge, I traversed left and this involved some airy, awkward moves. I then moved to a ledge and set up an anchor.

 

Pitch 2: I led up an offwidth crack on the left, nearly vertical, 5.something.

 

08_0816_140.jpg

I then traversed right and ascended a crack on the right up to a ledge. Shit my hand is bleeding, WTF? Tiny cut on my pinky - sharp rock.

 

Pitch 3: we know we needed to get to some benches on the SW face at some point. There were some below us to the left and down. I got a belay and placed some pro on a short, class 4(?) downclimb.

 

Pitch 4: now is where we burned time. Probably a couple of hours. Nobody was paying attention to the time now. But we were noticing bivy sites everywhere... I started up an easy blocky section for maybe 15 feet and traversed left on a ledge and up more blocks and looked over a notch to the left. No good. A sheer wall. How about up? No good. I downclimbed 15-20 feet to the ledge. Options? Overhanging crack into a chimney on the right. Did not look class 5.4. On the left of it was a crack. Maybe lieback with my left hand and do face moves with my right foot? I got up it until a crux move. My foot was slipping. I didn't like it. Backdown to the ledge. Shit. I'd led all the pitches so far, and was getting a little fried. I went to the right around a corner and took a look. Hmm. There's some options. I belayed my partner up to here - 20 feet or so. Would he be willing to try? Sure. First option, on the left - some easy moves up to an awkward crux move through a gap. He couldn't get comfortable with the move. He then went right. A chimney. FWB had trouble putting the first piece in. His shoes - approach shoes - were not gripping well enough for him and he was burning out. He smelled burning rubber from his shoes. OK, dude, my turn. We swapped the rack, and I went over. He had left one piece of pro in for the first move. I clipped in, and found my boots (Scarpa Triolets) were fine. The first move off the deck was the crux. I climbed up and past a small ledge, up another short section, topped a bulge with chock stones to a big ass ledge and brought up FWB.

 

Pitch 5. Now where to? Up and left was blocky and easy looking. Up and right looked doable to. What does the route description say? Who f***ing cares? I started up left. Surely we are close now? I got to a chock stone, topped it and looked down. You would need to traverse a ledge, and then hmm, that appears to be the summit about 50 feet up around the corner. Rope drag would suck. Time to bring up FWB.

 

"Pitch" 6. I ducked under a roof and went left under a ledge. Just one piece of pro, and now on good terrain. FWB wanted a belay for this move. We were getting tired. OK, here you go. I brought him over. The sun is getting low on the horizon. Worth pitching it? Nope. A few moves on chossy crap, then solid holds on 5.easy climbing up to the ridge, then left, and thank God, the summit! I brought up FWB with a hip belay.

 

08_0816_166.jpg

 

Nobody else around. Time. 7:45. 13 hours and 45 minutes from camp to summit. Shit! And to top it off, there was a huge friggin' swarm of mosquitos right on the summit. I moved down and away about 20 feet. Better. Eat, drink, pack up rack and rope. Let's get to the Cascadian before dark or we'll be screwed! We saw some folks coming up at the false summit. 8:15 - we're on our way. There were a couple snow patches that we scrambled around and we carefully worked our way towards the false summit. Now it's dark. But the moon is out already. We could hear voices - there's the party we had seen. We climbed a short chimney, and found a party of 3 bivying. They had come up the Cascadian. We chatted a while, and started off.

 

Not much left to tell now. We dropped too low right off the bat and could see we were going to end up in the Ulrich's. So we upclimbed about 100-200 feet and kept going East. OK, there's the Cascadian. It was worse than I imagined. We had beta that 'pons and ice axe were not necessary and the 2 snow fields were easily avoidable. So, instead we got lots of scree and horrible moving blocks of rocks. Trekking poles helped some. Then it was a steep dusty trail, then into a tight rocky canyon. Kitty litter on rocks. Scree. Total shit. Worse than anything I had ever been on. The going was slower. Every once in a while we lost the "trail". Water was out. Getting thirsty. Then, at about 11:30 we hit a stream. We pumped water and greedily chugged it. Then more trail. More dusty, slides, falls, through trees. Finally, the cross trail. Go right. We eventually found a camp less than 1/2 mile east of the Long's pass junction.

 

Night sky on descent:

08_0816_194.jpg

 

In bed at 1 am. A 20 hour day. Next morning we got up at 6, broke camp at 7, and got to the car at 9:30. The views were very bad and the air thick with smoke from the forest fire - enough to make my eyes burn at Long's Pass. We lucked out to summit on Sat! Temps were not too bad since the sun was blocked by clouds and smoke - maybe low 70's. At the TH, we got more water in the stream, soaked aching feet, and head ed out.

 

In 39 hours we were on our feet about 24 hours, and had travelled about 22 miles. Total sleep over 2 nights - maybe 10 hours.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Nuts #5-#12, green and yellow alien, #1 and #2 C4, #8 hex, lots of double slings. Trekking poles for the Cascadian.

 

No ice axe. No crampons.

 

Approach Notes:

Running water in Headlight Basin and some snow remaining on slopes above Lake Ingalls. No more water or snow until the summit.

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soo that fire:

 

Square Miles 0.98 Percent Contained 0 Threatened Structures 1 Expected Containment 2008-10-01

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Hey that day we were also on Stuart (via the CNR)! We summited a bit before you, and when I was on Long's Pass I saw some headlamps going down the Cascadian. Must have been you. Congrats. What a great mountain.

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Nice TR.

 

Kinda sucks to read about people getting so far off-route and making it down in a day when we were spot-on and still had to bivy!

 

On LJT, I found the left side to be easy 5 till the last 4 or 5 moves over the top where it went vertical with little crimpers. I may have taken a wrong turn though.

 

 

 

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It wouldn't be half as fun a story if it wasn't an epic.

Good work on making it go!

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Sounds to me like the classic "First Time on WR of Stuart Outing." At least you didn't go way too far east and get cliffed out on your way down and have to spend the night like my first time on WR. :rolleyes:

 

Say, how did those big-ass boots work for ya?

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Wow...KKK went rock climbing. Cool....nice job. Pictures?

 

 

Who is FWB?

 

Well, I went technical rock scrambling. ;-)

 

FWB is just a dude I know. No, it's not Beckey (his initials are the same). :laf:

 

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Sounds to me like the classic "First Time on WR of Stuart Outing." At least you didn't go way too far east and get cliffed out on your way down and have to spend the night like my first time on WR. :rolleyes:

 

Say, how did those big-ass boots work for ya?

 

The boots worked well. They were very nice to have coming down that piece of shit called the Cascadian Couloir.

 

 

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The piece of the shit that doesn't require rapelling or glacier or snow travel? All you have to do is walk down and drops you onto a well maintained trail? Quite a nice descent off a 9000+ ft peak if you ask me.

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The piece of the shit that doesn't require rapelling or glacier or snow travel? All you have to do is walk down and drops you onto a well maintained trail? Quite a nice descent off a 9000+ ft peak if you ask me.

 

Different strokes for different folks.

 

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I understand what you're saying, but you know, you gotta appreciate not having to worry about any techanical stuff as far as getting down, which can make other alpine climbs more committing or time consuming.

 

ANYWAY, got any pictures? Thats all I really care about.

 

OH, and: any snow up to ingalls peak? I want to run up there real quick this week. Thanks.

Edited by kevino

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I understand what you're saying, but you know, you gotta appreciate not having to worry about any techanical stuff as far as getting down, which can make other alpine climbs more committing or time consuming.

 

ANYWAY, got any pictures? Thats all I really care about.

 

OH, and: any snow up to ingalls peak? I want to run up there real quick this week. Thanks.

 

It was night. Who knows if I was on "the" trail. Sure, at the top, but below?

 

Pics - not yet. My computer is fried - will not boot except in "safe mode". Can't upload photos.

 

Yes, there is snow and water up on the approach to Ingalls in Headlight Basin.

 

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Did you do the descent down Cascaidian all the way to the trail and walk back up to the Longs Pass junction?

Or did you cut right at the Black tower at about 7K and drop down the gulley that drops you right on top of the Longs Pass junction.

Both are long but the latter is not as long. Just a little steeper.

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Did you do the descent down Cascaidian all the way to the trail and walk back up to the Longs Pass junction?

Or did you cut right at the Black tower at about 7K and drop down the gulley that drops you right on top of the Longs Pass junction.

Both are long but the latter is not as long. Just a little steeper.

 

I think we did the latter. The group of three we met near the false summit said to stay right of the lower snowfield because we'd be closer to the Long's Pass junction at the bottom. We were in a narrow gully at one point - very rocky, but that's where we found water. Then it eventually led into trees for several hundreds of feet vertical descent.

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OH, and: any snow up to ingalls peak? I want to run up there real quick this week. Thanks.

Hey ya little butt-wiper, whaddabout my trip to Clearwater? You gonna be around over there later this week, or what?

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Nevermind, just saw your PM.

 

Sorry for the thread hijack, 5K. You can have it back now... :blush:

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Nevermind, just saw your PM.

 

Sorry for the thread hijack, 5K. You can have it back now... :blush:

 

you should have come with us Sobo

 

it was a good time!

 

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I prolly shoulda, but I just couldn't justify the time away, given that I'll be gone all this week starting tomorrow, and will be gone over Labor Day weekend (plus some) next week.

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I prolly shoulda, but I just couldn't justify the time away, given that I'll be gone all this week starting tomorrow, and will be gone over Labor Day weekend (plus some) next week.

 

carpe diem, baby!!

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