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KaskadskyjKozak

[TR] Mount Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier 6/26/2011

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Trip: Mount Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier

 

Date: 6/26/2011

 

Trip Report:

Mountainguy01 and I had planned to climb the ICG a couple of weeks ago but opted to make alternate plans due to very warm temps. This weekend seemed like the last opportunity this year to bag this gem, so we went for it. The forecast was excellent to boot.

 

View of the objective from the approach:

P1000180.JPG

 

We made the correct turn off the Stuart Lake trail, crossed a nice log, and got to the benches beyond. Unfortunately we then proceeded to follow cairns on the boulder fields for 1.5 miles, traversing at around 5000 foot elevation. We corrected this mistake on the return route the next day.

 

Boulder hopping where we should have dropped down to the stream:

P1000184.JPG

 

Finally we met up with the stream we should have followed to begin with and ascended 400 feet to the flat areas that led to the base of the Sherpa Glacier. We noticed another party of 4 was up there and were proceeding to the moraine below the ICG. We decided to head up there as well and dug a nice platform on the snow.

 

View up the Ice Cliff Glacier:

P1000194.JPG

 

During dinner another party of two arrived and introduced themselves. Looks like a busy weekend up on Stuart! We opted to sleep in until 2:30 am and heard the other parties head out. We caught up to the parties at the base of the ICG where the party of 4 was pitching it out. My partner and I opted to simul-climb the entire route. We only had 3 pickets so we reset several times overall. But this was also do to us folding the 60m rope in half for the upper part of the route.

 

Leading out after resetting:

P1000203.JPG

 

A quick break about mid-way up:

P1000206.JPG

 

The snow conditions were excellent for most of the route, and there was no noticeable ice or rock fall the whole day! This was despite a freezing level rising from 8K to 10K over the weekend.

 

We caught up to the other teams again below the 'schrund. It was spicy and will not be "in" for much longer. There is a step across move to a foothold that is on a lip that will break/melt soon. As my partner made the move, and later, I did, we were pummeled by a waterfall of ice particles from the parties above. Purchase with our tool/axe was difficult as the snow above the 'schrund was loose. So we planted a picket and used that. The picket actually was a "gift" from above as the party dropped it down on us from 200 feet above. It fortuitously landed three feet to my left, impaling itself on end at the lip of the 'shrund. The move over was as follows: step across, grab the picket, step again, eat ice waterfall, stem with right foot, awkward move up, and voila, over the 'schrund!

 

Other climbing teams at and above the 'schrund:

P1000207.JPG

 

Temps were quite warm and I was sweating like a pig with a t-shirt and gore-tex coat. Most of the route was in the shade, but of course the top of the couloir was sunny and I had to lead it. Purchase of tools was good but it was more work to get up it with a layer of soft snow on top, and I was slowed by the extra effort.

 

View down the climbing route:

P10002101.JPG

 

At this point I finished my water and was feeling dehydrated. I crawled like a tortoise up to the false summit, rested, and then made my slow way over to the true summit.

 

Summit pron:

P1000218.JPG

 

We were on the summit less than 5 minutes before heading down. Snow was sloppy coming off the false summit, but got a bit better lower down. We found the top of the Sherpa Glacier and started plunge-stepping down. We were starting to get cocky - "this is not so bad... where is the crappy down-climbing". We soon found out where it is. For what seemed like an eternity we faced in and downclimbed that crap all the way to the bergschrund, which is currently an easy step-across.

 

We plunge-stepped the rest of the way, then discovered why camping on the moraine now seemed like a bad idea. :-) Even a 200 foot ascent felt like insult to injury at this point.

 

View up the Sherpa after descending it:

P1000223.JPG

 

We had a good rest at camp, and made good progress down to the stream and followed the faint trail and snow-patches with boot marks as far as we could, then head up towards the benches. Soon we lost cairns and I dug out my GPS while partner scouted out above. When I looked for him, I couldn't find him. After 15-20 minutes of yelling and blowing a whistle in vain, I started out, heading to the benches that I could now see, found cairns, the stream crossing at the Stuart Lake trail and headed back. I kept hoping to see my partner somewhere, but never did. My pace got slower as first the right and then left hamstring cramped up, and then my calves began to get sore. I got to the TH at about 7:45 - no partner. OK, stress level is up another notch. I hit the bathroom, and when I came out, he was there. All's well that ends well. Time for Heidelburger.

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

1-2 ice screws, 3-4 pickets, helmet, ice axe (venom) and 2nd tool, 60m skinny rope

 

Approach Notes:

Cross stream, ascend benches, then drop to stream and follow it.

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How about those crevasse crossing shenanigans? Apologies for all the flying/falling ice! :( I was in the green jacket, two teams ahead of you guys. And then we had those others above us! There were 4 two-man rope teams on that climb all at once, including you guys. That rut straight up from the crossing was such a bowling alley, it was impossible not to be hit.

 

Going low and using that creek as a handrail (thus completely skipping the boulders) was critical beta for us. Luckily, a very nice guy stopped to talk with us as we were hiking in and shared the info. I'm definitely using that low approach next time. For those who need the specifics: On the way in, once you reach the boulder field everyone talks about, ignore all cairns and head left, going toward the creek. There's a faint trail which follows (but never crosses) this creek full of delicious drinking water.

 

I'm pretty sure you two were the last people who were going to make it over that particular crevasse crossing. That step is going to drop out any moment. Did you happen to look over to the left 100 meters of that and see the boot tracks walking up toward the crevasse and starting again on the other side? That snow bridge that collapsed was massive.

 

What a gorgeous day for a climb.

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How about those crevasse crossing shenanigans? Apologies for all the flying/falling ice! :( I was in the green jacket, two teams ahead of you guys. And then we had those others above us!

 

No need to apologize! It is par for the course on steep snow/snice climbs. :-)

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:rocken: Nice !! Now I have another one in my list and need to wait until next year :(

 

I need to go back and bag the Stuart Glacier Couloir next year - you can join me for that one. :-)

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Great report. How far from trail head until you hit continuous snow? Did you take hiking shoes or go all the way in climbing boots? Was the summit ridge climbing boot compatible or would rock shoes have helped? Did you use the screws?

Thanks. Thinking of climbing it this weekend.

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Great report. How far from trail head until you hit continuous snow? Did you take hiking shoes or go all the way in climbing boots? Was the summit ridge climbing boot compatible or would rock shoes have helped? Did you use the screws?

Thanks. Thinking of climbing it this weekend.

 

There was snow along the stream you use as a handline on the final 2.5 miles or so of approach. we used climbing boots the whole way. The summit ridge is 99% snow-covered.

 

We used 1-2 screws only. also we had a small rack but never used it as the snow at the top of the couloir is still quite deep and wide.

 

Beware that the Bergschrund crossing we used may be out by now. However, there looked to be a crossing lower down all the way on climber's left that could be a go still.

 

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I think I know who may have dropped that picket :laf:

 

Nice TR and shots. I'll have to do this one next year when it's in again; looks like a blast

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TRbetaflash- I'm the one who sent you toward the creek. I will never use the boulder field approach after the first time I went in there. I'm glad you found it ok and it sounds like you had a great climb.

Edited by salamander

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salamander, we appreciated your beta! Not everyone will stop and chat on the way out of there and you went out of your way to do so. Thank you!

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