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montypiton

first ascent [TR] Mt. Stuart - Mixed Blessing (previously undocumented) 5/24/2009

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Trip: Mt. Stuart - Mixed Blessing (previously undocumented)

 

Date: 5/24/2009

 

Trip Report:

About five years ago, I made a trip in to the North Side of Mt Stuart at Memorial Day with Travis Hammond. The weather turned crappy, and we didn't climb anything, but we did observe three undocumented ice lines on the north face of the West Ridge between the Stuart Glacier Couloir and the NW Buttress Route. I've watched those lines each spring since then, and on a quick recon on May 2 this year, found them coming into perfect shape. Had to work harder than I expected to find a partner, (Shipman was working, Tarver in Alaska, Flick had family commitments, etc. blah-blah)but finally succeeded in recruiting Bill (Dobby) Dobbins for an attempt on the Holiday weekend.

 

Dobby picked me up at my home in 11-worth at 0600 Saturday morning, for a suitably early start on the Stuart Lake trail, then in classic CFCC (if you don't know, you probably don't want to...) form, remembered two miles up the trail that he'd neglected to hang/display his parking permit before leaving the trailhead. So I got an hour nap while Dobby (remember this guy, like me,is in his mid-50s) jogged four miles down to the car and back in his Sportiva Nepals to prevent ticketage.

 

We still managed to stagger to Stuart Lake before noon, although Dobby was actin' pretty whipped by then. Continued on snowshoes beyond the lake to the end of the meadow/swamps at the base of the Stuart Glacier moraines, where we elected to camp and get a good rest rather then try to hump our camping gear up the steep moraine to the glacier in the afternoon sloppy snow.

 

An 0200 start Sunday morning yielded perfect neve for effortless cramponing up the moraine, and we gained the Stuart Glacier just as the morning brightened enough to turn off the headlamps. Of the three lines I'd observed two weeks earlier, two were mostly gone, but the center line still held a decent pillar of ice reaching to snowfields that access the crest of the West Ridge.

 

We ate, drank, roped and racked and started on the pillar. Being the old, frail, lazy guys we are, we'd elected to bring only a single 60-meter half/twin rope, so we doubled it over for the first steep pitches, and limited ourselves to 30 meters between belays. Six pitches of stellar WI3 with the odd mixed move here and there brought us to the snowfields where we unfolded the rope and climbed five more 60-meter pitches to the crest of the NW Buttress where we had to decide whether to continue up the old route, or call it done and descend the NW Buttress with enough time to get all the way out that night. Being old and frail and lazy, and already intimately familiar with the summit, of course we bailed.

 

Unfortunately, the Stuart Deity chose that time to become obstreperous. The lovely snow chute I had identified two weeks earlier, and planned to slide down on my behind, had melted out during those two weeks. We couldn't see far enough to be sure, but the top looked sorta rocky-ugly. We started downclimbing anyway. After several hours, we came to the "edge of the world" just as it was getting dark enough to pull the headlamps back out.

Not being able to see past the edge, of course we rappeled. Then we rappeled again... And again... Six rappels later, we finally tagged the Stuart Glacier in pitch darkness - and stumbled on down to our tent, arriving at 1230. Ten hours up, twelve down. I suggest following parties simply rappel the route...

 

As Dobby kept sayin: "Ahm tard!" to which I would respond "me too; does that make me re-tard?" Tard & Re-tard, twin alpine clowns... but we did git-er-done

 

Summary: Mount Stuart, north side of West Ridge: "Mixed Blessing": IV, WI-3, M-0

 

Gear: one 60-meter half/twin rope; three stoppers from 1/4" to 3/4"; three hexes from 1" to 3"; six cams from 3/4" to 3.5"; one long, one medium, & one short ice screw; one knifeblade, one lost arrow, and two Leeper Z-pegs, eight alpine-style quickdraws, and about 60' of accessory cordage which was almost entirely gone by the end of the descent... and we used pretty much every piece at least once...

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well you both looked very fit and not old when I saw you in the parking lot! I knew you were headed up for something good on stuart just from the looks of ya and your gear. So, the "we are old" thing is not working with me. ;) I saw your partner run past in both directions. We wondered what you two forgot. I was the gal in the parking lot waiting for her partners. :wave:

 

Great stuff thanks for the report.

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as a matter of fact, we both took photos - I haven't seen Dobby's yet, but I got a couple of keepers of him -- now if I can just convince one of my kids to help me insert them into a trip report...

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