Trip: STUART - Ice Cliff Arete   Date: 8/10/2014   Trip Report: Ever since I climbed the complete north ridge on Stuie last September, I was admiring the impressive skyline dividing the Ice cliff and Sherpa glaciers – the elusive Ice Cliff arête. I made some inquiries which yielded little info. The glorious John Plotz however reassured me that the arête is a hidden gem and should be “fun”. I guess we would go with just that.     Ice Cliff Arete as seen from the lower North Ridge (September 2013):     Dan (DPS) and I rolled into the Stuart lake p-lot around midnight on Fri. The 8-mile road now has a striking resemblance to the access to Black Velvet canyon in Red rawks – wheel alignment ensued. We started at the TH at 3.15 a.m. – the going is always fast, refreshing and light in the dark but not so much when the sun is up.   The meadow and boulder field below Sherpa gl. are vicious. The mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds live there and they almost ate me alive.     At the base of the arête:     We went up the clean slabs to the left of the first tower between two waterfalls on cl. 4 – mid 5, passing the signs of the earlier human travel – a few pieces of fixed gear. At this point I was sad to part with my new hiking pole made of Oregonian pine and specifically designed to deliver the individuals with injured ankles to the base of alpine routes. My other one had tragically died on me a few days prior almost at the same location: Bloodshed     Dan is about to head up the approach slabs:     After crossing the right most snow finger, we located the famous “pink granite” ramp and roped up in the moat below it. The pink ramp however turned out to be a total blank so I went up the crack system to the left – 3 pitches to the crest of the arête.     En route to the crest on the delightful Sierras type granite:   The last pitch to the crest behind the ice block:   Once on the crest, the simul-climbing on cl. 3, 4 and mid 5 had begun for seems like an eternity.   Here is an overlay of the first half of the route:       Getting to the snow field at the col below the Black Tower was a happy moment in our lives – we had finally reached the shade and a plenty of glacial melt to refill on water.   “What does the route description say as to where do we go on the Black Tower?” “It says – to climb the Black Tower”.   So, we climb the Black Tower. The right side thereof did not look awesome, neither was the left, so we chose the black open book in the center and cut right thereafter and then left again.     Dan is heading up the open book:     A few more pitches (I stopped counting at this point) and more simul-climbing, and we are on the top of that freaking tower.   Dan admitted the headwall above looked awfully steep but that must have been due to an angle distortion in the fading light. I went ahead and fixed the next pitch along the knife edge ridge, then traversed left and up around the awkward laybacking block. In the fading light. By the time I got down, he had already cleared out two bivy sites on the top of the Black Tower overlooking Sherpa peak.   Next morning we made through the transition and started up the headwall through the overhanging corner. After a take #2 and a small fall, I was very happy to be done with that section.     Here is a long distance action shot of us taken from West Ridge on Sherpa (Photo Credit: Colleen Murphy) and an overlay for the upper part of the route:     Looking down on the Sherpa gl.:   North Ridge and Girth Pillar:   The upper headwall from the belay:       After Dan arrived at the belay, he graciously offered to lead the next pitch… And the next, and the next, after which we simul-climbed for more, through the final OW slot to the summit ridge.   Dan mid-way on the upper headwall:     On the summit ridge:     For the descent, we slogged down southeast below Sherpa, rapped once through the cliff band and merged with the standard Sherpa “trail”. I am still hurting to think about that bitch: way more slow and painful than the crapcadian next door.   All in all, we thought the ice cliff arête was a harder and more thought-provoking alternative to its neighbor - north ridge, with the exceptional quality granite and by no means less aesthetic. Probably, my favorite route on Stuie yet.   Thanks to Dan for another awesome trip!       Gear Notes: 8 mm x 60 m rope, 0.3 - 3", doubles 0.5 - 2", orange link-cam, DMM wallnuts and offsets, RPs. Used all.   Approach Notes: Mountaineers creek