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Tom_Sjolseth

[TR] Mt. Stuart - Stuart Glacier Couloir 5/1/2010

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Trip: Mt. Stuart - Stuart Glacier Couloir

 

Date: 5/1/2010

 

Trip Report:

I finally got around to climbing this gem on Saturday.

 

Steph Abegg and I met at the Mountaineer's Creek TH on Saturday morning at 4AM. We were able to drive to within 1/4 mile of the trailhead in high clearance vehicles. Another climber was supposed to join us there, but apparently he got stuck in the snow about 1 mile from the TH.

 

We left the TH at 4:35 under cloudy skies. We put on snowshoes immediately, and wore them all the way to the base of the route. The trail to the Colchuck Lake junction was fairly well-packed, but the snow beyond that was soft.

 

We arrived in the basin below the route and saw three climbers making their way up the Ice Cliff Glacier. We stashed our snowshoes by a big boulder in the middle of the basin and headed off.

 

The snow here was perfect with a walkable crust in places, sinking up to ankle deep in others. As we ascended, the winds (out of the NW) steadily increased.

 

We stopped at the 'schrund and looked for a good spot to cross. The snow here was sugary and light, and we found it tricky to find a place to cross safely. We belayed across the bergschrund without incident.

 

The rest of the couloir to the notch in the W Ridge was very straightforward (snow to 55 degrees). We were disappointed to not find any ice. The winds were ferocious at this point, and spindrift was a nuisance. Visibility was very limited (50 feet?).

 

But what the couloir lacked in ice, the W Ridge sure made up for it. The entire way from the notch to the summit was completely caked in ice and snow (much of it rime). This provided challenging conditions for the mid fifth class rock.

 

The first pitch from the notch went up a short, vertical rime mushroom. The perch atop it was airy, and there was no reliable pro, so we belayed each other up off a solid belay. From here, we traversed the extremely exposed rimed up ridgecrest (again, little to no pro). We tried to use natural pro where available, as this was all we could find in most places.

 

We came to the 5.6 lieback and, no surprise, it was caked in ice (the rock was totally plastered). We decided to bypass this by doing a delicate traverse across the upper N Face. Again, pro was sparse as cracks were filled with ice and snow. Pitons came in handy for belays, and I was able to place a few cams (4 total on the rock pitches). We were using a 30m rope and we belayed 6 pitches of very exciting, very exposed climbing.

 

The summit block was one big rime mushroom - no rock could be seen. To climb it involved a delicate traverse along a downward sloping, icy rock ledge (in crampons) pushed outward by bulging rime (no apparent pro). I chopped at the bulging rime for 5 minutes in an attempt to create a wider ledge. My last piece was 20 feet below me and about 10 feet to my side!

 

I belayed Steph up from the summit at 6:30. The climbing was very time-consuming, and we had to hurry to get down before dark. With winds still howling wildly (steady 25, gusting to 40+), sideways snow pelting us in the face, and visibility at about 50 feet, we down climbed towards the false summit, in search of the Sherpa Glacier (our descent route). Accurate routefinding was nearly impossible. A mini-epic ensued.

 

Steph took a few photos, hopefully she'll add them here (or a link to them on her website).

 

An excellent climb with an excellent partner.

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c'mon man, "a mini-epic ensued", ive froze my ass off overnight on that beast before, details?

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Dude you suck! leave me hanging like that...WTF!?! ;-P

 

glad all is ok. i hope you will enlighten us to the epic parts...;-P

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Haha, oh man, this is *exactly* how the SGC went for me when we climbed it years ago. The section from the W ridge notch to the summit definitely has some "character" when all rimed up and frozen like that. I remember the downward sloping sketchy ledge as well, it was scurry. We also experienced a mini-epic on the descent - I recall slumping down somewhere on the trail to close my eyes for just one...precious...minute.

 

Nice job! :brew:

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Trip: Mt. Stuart - Stuart Glacier Couloir + cozy cave bivy

 

Date: 5/1-2/2010

 

Trip Report:

This last weekend, despite a downturn in the weather forecast, Tom Sjolseth and I made a successful ascent of Mount Stuart via the Stuart Glacier Couloir. Climbing the couloir was the easiest part of this 33-hour adventure, which involved rime ice on Class 5 rock, high winds and white-out conditions, a great bivy spot in a cave with a fire, and a few thousand feet of extra climbing. Mt. Stuart at its best.

 

As usual, I've posted a full trip report with lots of photos on my website:

http://sites.google.com/site/stephabegg/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/stuartglaciercouloir

 

Here are a few photos:

 

Photo route overlay (aerial photo by John Scurlock)

stuartFeb0906route.jpg

 

Looking up the couloir.

IMG_0971.jpg

 

Tom ready to begin the spicy mixed climbing of difficult-to-protect and difficult-to-climb rimed rock on the summit pyramid.

IMG_0980.jpg

 

We ended up making an unplanned bivy, but fortunately found a cave and were able to build a fire to keep warm and dry! Good excuse to spend the night in the mountains.

IMG_1003.jpg

 

Tom traversing the upper east-side slopes of Stuart, with Mt. Rainier in the background (we had good weather the second day).

IMG_1033.jpg

 

Again, the link to my full TR:

http://sites.google.com/site/stephabegg/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/stuartglaciercouloir

Edited by Steph_Abegg

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Those must have been your snowshoes parked next to ours! Those gust at times were pretty unnerving. As I walked out Sunday morning (my partners stuck around to climb Colchuck) I turned around to see Stuart under relatively clear skies. I guess we chose the wrong day to climb! Well done.

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Nice Tom and Steph! Way to get after it! :brew:

 

Sounds like a fun time until you hit the rime covered west ridge section. Bummer about heading down the wrong side, but at least you found a nice bivy. Were you on the route Sat and Sun then? The winds were howling on Saturday above the valley, that must have made things exciting.

 

.

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...Were you on the route Sat and Sun then? The winds were howling on Saturday above the valley, that must have made things exciting.

 

Yep - the weather turned out a bit worse on Sat then we had anticipated, with high winds and poor visibility. Defintely made a challenging route even more challenging, and was what caused us to mistake the SE rib as the E ridge. But, it made for a memorable trip that ended well with a story to tell.

 

-Steph

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Wow, great endeavor. And a superb TR, love the overlays, maps and laconism!!! The way to go.

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OK, that beats our mini-epic on this route years ago since we didn't have to spend the night out. But isn't a nice fire the ultimate anti-epic tool? I love it!

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i hope you will enlighten us to the epic parts...;-P

 

First, thanks to Tom for being a great partner for a great route!

 

Second, I posted a trip report with some of the "epic" details and photos:

http://sites.google.com/site/stephabegg/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/stuartglaciercouloir

 

Here are a few photos:

 

Photo route overlay (aerial photo by John Scurlock)

stuartFeb0906route.jpg

 

Looking up the couloir.

IMG_0971.jpg

 

Tom ready to begin the spicy mixed climbing of difficult-to-protect and difficult-to-climb rimed rock on the summit pyramid.

IMG_0980.jpg

 

We ended up making an unplanned bivy, but fortunately found a cave and were able to build a fire to keep warm and dry! Good excuse to spend the night in the mountains.

IMG_1003.jpg

 

Tom traversing the upper east-side slopes of Stuart, with Mt. Rainier in the background (we had good weather the second day).

IMG_1033.jpg

 

Again, the link to my full TR:

http://sites.google.com/site/stephabegg/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/stuartglaciercouloir

Edited by Steph_Abegg

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solid climb and a stellar report!

thanks for the descriptions, the beta, and i really like the note about the strategy had you not found a cave.

 

too bad about the weather, you guys. it was warm and sunny there on thursday.

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Nice job! Out of the half dozen or so routes I have done on Stuart, SGC feels the most alpine, what with the snowed/iced up rock climbing on the West Ridge portion.

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Did you guys make water using the fire? Just curious.

 

Dan

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Did you guys make water using the fire? Just curious.

 

Nope, we both had brought 3L on the climb (even after tanking up in Mountaineer Creek on the approach), so we had enough water even in the cave. I was brainstorming ways we could start melting though if we needed it, though, and I'm sure Tom thought of it too.

 

We could have stayed in that cave for awhile with fire and water, but unless a marmot showed up we would quickly get pretty hungry....

 

-steph

Edited by Steph_Abegg

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I have a little metal water bottle that I could use to melt water into if I bring it on trips, or one could bring a metal Ti cup for making water, of course depends on being able to get to tree line and finding or making dry wood for fire. Other than this a common way to make water is to use hole in a rock, pack snow into it and put heated rocks into that, will make a pool of melted snow water, you can also cook bugs and stuff inside that. Another trick but may damage your shell clothing is pack snow into a shell jacket and put a rock in there then put a heated rock on top of that rock to melt snow into water using your jacket or helmet etc as a water holder.

 

I am into the survival stuff as a extra hobby.

 

Dan

 

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After a little thought, a few more things about using a hole in

the rock to melt water. Your looking for a hole that will make a little pool of water, the hole made of pure rock, most any size hole will work. Clean out your hole using snow or whatever before usage. Then pack with snow or ice, then put in clean heated rocks into that, as clean as you can with a rock out of a fire. Use rocks that are dry to heat up as wet rocks can blow up from internal water turning to steam. You can use two sticks to move rocks,a metal snow shovel would be great or anything else that may work, synthetic gloves or mitts most likely will melt if used. You most likely know all of this stuff, I posted for everyone.

 

Dan

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Dan,

 

Thanks for posting, its an interesting discussion. I had considered the hot rocks + snow + waterproof stuffsack idea, but was a bit concerned with how hot I could get the rocks before melting a hole through the stuffsack. I like idea of using a natural bowl in the rock, I'll have to go back to the cave to check if there were any primo spots for that... =)

 

-Steph

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Nice work you two... Tim (Crackman), Skander (Ropegoat) and myself climbed this on April 25th in similar conditions. I thought it would be a nice mellow warm up for AK but the amount of rime/snow we had to clear on each pitch resulted in it turning into a 23 hour C2C session... a little more than I was hoping for :) Still... a great time out

 

Last pitch

rime.JPG

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