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Ice/snow gully climbs in May and Leavenworth beta

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After getting some good beta in this thread, a partner and I are formulating some plans for mid-May climbing. We've never been to the Cascades before, but have plenty of experience in other ranges.


Currently, we're thinking about Three Couloirs on Dragontail Peak and the Stuart Glacier Couloir on Mount Stuart. From what I've read so far, these both might be good in May and seem like they'd be doable in two days--hike in and camp, then climb the next day. Does that sound about right?


If conditions are poor for these, what are other recommendations for long snow/ice climbs that time of year? (Doesn't have to be near Stuart, but that'd be nice.)


Also, what's the camping beta for Leavenworth? Is the Forest Service camping good? A commercial campground instead? Ideally, we'll have 5 or 6 days to spend there, going in to Stuart/Colchuck a couple different times for the aforementioned climbs.

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Triple Couloirs might still be in condition in early May, if it comes in at all. One to two days for TC, prolly two for SGC, which should still be in. Other gulleys include North Buttress Couloir and NE Couloir on Colchuck Peak, NE Couloir on Argonaut,and NE Couloir on Dragontail. The Ice Cliff Glacier on Mt Stuart may be of interest to you as well.


In the Icicle Creek valley in Leavenworth are the 8 Mile and Bridge Creek campgrounds, both are Forest Service. I think there are more campgrounds further up the Icicle as well. Additionally, there are some other non official camping options.


Other options include Coleman Headwall and North Ridge of Baker, many options on Rainier, North Face of Shuksan could be good.

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mid-may is actually a great time to visit the stuart range if you like classic mixed alpine climbing. triple couloir and stuart glacier couloir may be the best known routes, but depending on the year, these may or may not be in. I've seen triple couloirs obesely fat in June some years, but dry by april in others. if you trust your routefinding, there are usually seasonal mixed lines, just not always in the same places. consider giving yourself a day's cushion, especially if the eightmile road is still gated. I've done triple couloir bumper to bumper from the Icicle road, and found it a looooong day. consider carrying a light pair of binoculars - you may scope something that looks like more fun than what's in your guidebook...


camping in the Icicle Canyon in May should not be a problem - usfs campgrounds will be open by then, and you'll be earlier than the permit season for your high camps.


depending on how our spring shapes up, you could need floatation into June, or have a walkable trail as early as April. Check at Leavenworth Mountain Sports for current conditions when you get here.

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