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[TR] Mt. Stuart - Upper North Ridge 7/30/2010

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Trip: Mt. Stuart - Upper North Ridge


Date: 7/30/2010


Trip Report:

The north ridge had been high on my list for a few years, but the stars had yet to align. Finally that changed last July. I met up with Curtveld on a Thursday morning and we headed to the Esmeralda Basin trailhead. We had a few days free, so our plan was to basecamp at Stuart pass for two nights so we could climb without bivy gear.


Curt soaking in the view:




We arrived at Stuart pass and set up camp. The welcoming committee:




There were thunderstorms in the forecast, but the big storm was not due until Saturday. During the night I could see flashes of lightning off in the distance but never heard any thunder. This continued into the morning, but there was no immediate threat so we decided to give it a go.


We left Stuart pass at around 5am and meandered up to Goat pass for our first view of the upper north ridge:




Once we dropped down to the Stuart glacier I couldn't help but notice that the clouds were rolling in from the south, so we would not be able to see any thunderstorms moving in until they were overhead. This turned out to be a good thing, though, because it forced me to forget about the weather and just enjoy the climbing.


I wore crampons on my approach shoes, but Curt did just fine in approach shoes only. The approach gully was steeper than I anticipated, but we never felt the need to rope up until we hit the notch. The rock along the climber's left side of the gully is pretty good quality. We arrived at the notch and began simul-climbing at around 8:30am. Simul-climbing was not always easy, however, since the route goes over and around small towers and crags, and at times we found it easier to do shorter blocks even though we had more gear.


We swapped leads and were moving quite efficiently. I could not get over the rock quality and position. Truly incredible. Soon we made our way up to the beautiful slab below the gendarme (Curt on the sharp end):



I then took off along the wildly exposed ridge for another fun block of climbing:



Eventually we reached the gendarme and decided we would haul our packs even though they were pretty light. This worked out really well and allowed us to enjoy the climbing. We swapped leads again with Curt leading the off-width on pitch two. I thought the crack on pitch one was excellent, but the exposure of the second pitch was hard to beat:




After finishing up the gendarme there is still a ways to go, including another fun (5.8-ish) hand crack a few hundred feet below the summit. Once on the summit we took a long break and enjoyed the views. There was a fire in the area (either Wenatchee or Entiat, I can't remember), which made it a bit hazy:




Summit shot:



We did the standard Cascadian descent and it lived up to the hype. I took forever making my way down the initial snowfield. Curt, on the other hand, was like Spiderman and had the pleasure of watching me slip and slide for a while. After the snowfield it was a long ways down to the valley below, only to have to slog a long ways back up to Stuart pass. We made it back to camp around 10:30pm and had a feast.


All in all it was a great day with a great partner on a climb that exceeded my expectations. It was also a bonus that we had the mountain entirely to ourselves. We never saw another party the whole day. That must be rare for Mt. Stuart in late July.


Gear Notes:

Singles up to a blue camelot


Approach Notes:


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Thanks Porter! Sorry it took a contest to get me to post a TR. Shameless!

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Yikes. That was quite a storm! I remember watching those dark clouds roll in as we made it back to the parking lot and wondering if you guys were on route. Razorback looks nice.

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All in all it was a great day with a great partner on a climb that exceeded my expectations.


Abso-fricken-lutely! I'd say the route fully lived up to expectations, which is pretty high praise for that one.

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