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[TR] MT Stuart - Full North Ridge 7/28/2012

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Trip: MT Stuart - Full North Ridge


Date: 7/28/2012


Trip Report:


Short video of climb



Chason and I have had our eyes on this route for many years. We have been carefully planning packing and considering approach/descent options hoping to go as “light and fast” as possible while choosing approach and decent routes that we have previously scoped out so that we would feel comfortable finding our way in the dark.




Our hope was to finish the entire climb in one day. To give ourselves the best chance we decided to start hiking at midnight. Chason must have gotten the idea from our early start on the DC Rainier (Video) the previous weekend.


We drove from Seattle Friday afternoon. Arriving at the trail head by 9:30pm we made final adjustments to our climbing rack and pack. Pulling out sleeping bags and ground pads we slept for a few hours to awake at midnight and begin our adventure.



We enjoyed the perfect hiking weather in the dark finding our way up over Stuart Pass, Ingalls lake, red hill and Goat pass. Filled up our camelbacks at the far end of the lake. Enjoyed seeing little creatures skirt across the pre-dawn trail a pine martin, shrews, sleepy songbirds surprised to see people moving around at such an hour.




Steep scree fields leading down icy snow field crossings kept us alert and paying careful attention to footing in our trail running shoes. We used a large stick and rock to cut out steps across the steepest snowfields. Otherwise we were able to navigate under the Stuart Glacier on rock bands.




Knowing this was going to be a test of endurance we tried to eat a bar or goo pack/Gatorade shot every hour.




The base of the lower ridge was pretty straightforward to find. We enjoyed being on the solid rock with good pro. The 5.7 layback at the start was a great warm up. I took off the pack and clipped on to a piece of gear to lead through the 5.8 slot. Chason took the next pitch and chose a crack system to the right of the 5.9+ corner. It ended up being a fun 5.8 pitch avoiding the 4” crack on good rock, but did have some bad rope drag. From here we went up and right to the ridge, found our way around a secret passage on the west side of the ridge with a good dose of exposure. We are wondering if we should have gone left here as many other trip reports start simul-climbing after 3 pitches. There are great belay stances with views over the lower ridge and Ice Glacier. I was able to relax at belays and soak in the sublime alpine ambiance in perfect 65 degree weather with little wind.



From a belay stance I witness a giant block cleaving off striking the ice glacier and tumbling down the steep snow. It sounded like a giant angry roar.




We climb up two more long pitches of 5.7 cracks eager to find some easier ground where we can simul-climb and make better time. We come up on a band of white rock where the grade lessens and simul-climb for a few pitches down climbing into the notch squeezing by a melting snow patch.




From the notch we admire well-established bivy sites and pack our camel backs with soft snow. Down from the top of the notch we descend a couple hundered feet and start climbing up a ramp system. We are able to simul-climb a few hundred feet from here and then pitch out two rope stretching leads to the crest of the ridge.




The top of the ridge gives a great view of the classic 5.7 slab cracks with the Great Gendarme above. The exposure here is great on both sides of the ridge.


Chason revels in the quality of the rock and outrageous alpine ambience. These pitches are where the highest concentration of memorable rock on the route.




Chason links 2 pitches and belays me across the ridge crest traverse. Super positive rock with awesome exposure. I climb up over a ridgy block to discover sheer drop offs on both sides. I down-climb back to the belay and continue left on the edge of a large slab using a right facing corner system to protect it. We are one pitch away from the base of the Gendarme and I grab a few shots with the camera, which I haven’t taken out of my pack very often with the fear that I will drop it.




I take the lead on the 5.9-layback first pitch of the Gendarme. I can’t believe anyone would want to climb this far up to rap down to the chossy gully to the right bypassing the best 2 pitches on the route.




Despite the climbing being more difficult I take comfort in the obvious route-finding of the pitch. Focusing on the moves and accurate cam placement I can forget that we have hiked many hours and climbed countless pitches to get to this point wearing a 25lb pack. I feel like I am cragging and soon am grabbing the ledge on top of the detached pillar. Chason follows up and leads up the strenuous 5.9 off width which now has 2 fixed #4 cams. Hearing massive blocks roar as the tear off the ice cliff I cling on to the rock and am too gripped to fuss with getting any photos of footage. I just want to get up to the summit. Chason uses the #4 and 3.5 to set up an anchor in the alcove at the top of the pitch. From here there is a 5.5. crack directly above the alcove. The start is an awkward step across into a free hanging hand crack. Solid moves, but an unexpected airy stance after have climbed the Gendarme the climbing isn’t over yet.




We navigate another two pitches around the ridge and Chason cliffs out. We rappel down back to a gully and Chason takes the last “technical” 5.8 pitch. We are eager to get to the summit. After this last pitch there is more blocky mixed simu-climbing terrain. We carefully cross some 4th class terrain trying not to dislodge any large blocks. Navigating through the ridgy blocks we simul-climb and place a few pieces of gear in overhanging but solid blocky moves. After a few false summits we crest the exposed ridge and spot the summit just before dark. We shortly savor the summit feeling it is more exposed on three sides than we had anticipated. Witnessing the summit pyramid shadow to the east. We had at least made it up the peak in a day.




Deciding not to descend in the oncoming darkness we found a great bivy site a couple hundered feet from the summit. Tired and getting cold we descend to the east a few hundred feet and find a great bivy spot with partial protection from the wind.




Very glad to have packed a Feathered Friends double bag we coiled rope set our packs down for ground cover tired and cold we crawled into the “bro-rito.”




We enjoyed our dinner of a cheese stick and small sub sandwich never tasted so good.




To gain some additional wind protection Chason opened up his emergency blanket. This ended up being a sheet of shiny plastic. We wondered what use it would be in an actual emergency. You would be better off with a garbage bag. It did however provide a bit of wind protection and heat reflection inside the sleeping bag.




Sleeping fairly well we woke up at 6 to a beautiful sunrise with views reaching east and south past Rainier into Oregon. What an amazing bivy on top of central Washington.




We packed up our gear keeping the rope accessable and started heading down the blocky trail.




Navigating past Ulrichs Coulior we crested another ridge by the false summit above the Cascadian.


We found a sling around a large rock to rappel down the only snow field remaining on the decent. After another hour and a half we finish the scree section of the Cascadian and relish being bask on flat trail.


Pausing to refill our camelbacks in the stream we repack take a last bite of energy bars and head over longs pass.




Back to a popular trailhead on a sunny afternoon 37 hours from our departure.


Absolutely perfect weather, a committing route with a long approach and decent, with great company made for a trip we will long remember.




Gear Notes:

9.4 60m rope


Double rack cams fingers to hand size, single 3, 3.5 and 4

(yes we used the big ones on many pitches)


8 single-length draws with double wire carabineers


4 double-length draws with double wire carabineers


2 quad-length draw with double locking carabineers



Approach Notes:

Left the Ingalls trailhead at 12:20am


Got to Ingalls Lake in 2hrs


Goat Pass in 4hrs Sun came out (some hard snowfield crossings)


Base of route racked up and climbing in 7hrs


Base of route to notch 6hrs (kept right on ridgeline for 4 pitches, climbed 2 more 5.7ish before finding simu-climbing terrain.


Notch to top of Gendarme 6hrs Enjoyed these pitches, short, steep, great rock and straightforward route finding for a change. We lead these with packs on to save time from hauling.


Top of Gendarme to summit 1.5hrs


Bivied a couple hundered feet from the summit. Very glad to have packed a Feathered Friends double sleeping bag.


Descended the Cascadian couilar - 4hrs from summit to trail. 2hrs trail up over Johns pass back to parking lot.


Reached the Summit in 21:04.26 from the car. Bivied 10 and descended back to car in 6.

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I'm not sure I would call either of those cams booty. I clipped them, but wouldn't use them if I could free them. Goes to show how quickly beta can go bad. What is still left, the 4 or the 4.5?

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The lower #4 was mine and should be in good condition. My partner did take a short fall on it (7/22) and had trouble extracting it on the way up. Sucks to leave gear, but we had a clustery party of 3 going up that thing.

Edited by newdawnfades

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Chason opened up his emergency blanket. This ended up being a sheet of shiny plastic. We wondered what use it would be in an actual emergency.


Not much, as we found out when stuck near the summit several years ago. Lesson learned: better to have an emergency bivy sack. Or better yet, not enyoy the rock so much :)


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