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Dinonuggetz

[TR] Mount Stuart - The Ice Cliff Glacier a Long Open Bivy 4/25/2015

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Trip: Mount Stuart - The Ice Cliff Glacier a Long Open Bivy

 

Date: 4/25/2015

 

Trip Report:

Colton and I set off from the trail-head at 3am. 6 hours late we arrived at the base of the moraine. It had taken a lot longer then we had expected. Hmm, no big deal we still have plenty of time its only 9. We continued on and approached the ice cliff. We took the left hand side. The pitches consisted of amazing nevee with areas of fat blue ice. Protection was good and the climbing was truly alpine in flavor. The last pitch of the icefall was a true gem. I left the belay traversed to the left and started to climb upwards, the ice steepened and I ended up stemming and eventually chimneying up this last section of ice. It was amazing! After pulling off the ice chimney the top kept me focused with a hearty runout on good nevee.

 

We had arrived in the upper cirque, had some snacks, a drink of water and plodded out onto the glacier. At this time the wind picked up and we were getting some light snowdrift. We headed right towards the bergschrund. And this is about the time it really got awkward. The snow had went from ankle deep to a full on wallow fest. Colton was battling for several minutes to gain 10 feet of progress. The snow was now up to our shoulders, but we just kept on moving. We stumbled across 4 other crevasses before reaching the schrund. We crossed all these obstacles via snow bridges. During this time the wind had turned into a fierce gale that cut right through our layers. We could see the the top of the route and the gargantuan cornice we would have to surmount. We just kept going... the closer to the ridge we got the nastier the weather got. 200 feet from the cornice I deemed it not safe to climb anymore. I couldn't see from not only the snowdrift, but my eyes were also becoming frozen shut during the strong gusts. I downclimbed to little nook that was more sheltered then other spots.

 

I brought Colton up to me and told him there was no way we were gonna make it up over that cornice in this shit. He agreed. This is the point where we knew we had one hell of a night ahead of us. We already freezing but we had to start working on our snow cave. "Wish I would have brought my shovel this trip", I said, as we started chopping away with our ice adzes. 2 hours into construction we deemed it good enough to sleep in. The weather was relentless the whole time. Half frozen, we stuffed our rope into a plastic bag and 2 of our extra layers in another for a mattress and pillow combo. We took off our crampons and crawled into the 5 foot deep cave. We put our bags in front of the entrance and settled in for the long night ahead. At this point I was beyond thirsty but drinking in this small cave spilled more water on my clothes then I got in my mouth. Comfort and warmth were at an all time low. We had no room to adjust to get comfy and we both kept cramping throughout the night. We shivered for 10 hours as we waited for the shroud of night to be pierced by the sun.

 

"Hey it's light outside, hey come on, get up". At first I didn't believe it. But sure enough there was light shining in through the cracks of our packs. What a night! Nature woke us with the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. Maybe because I was so ready to be warm. We packed up as fast as we could and headed for the cornice. I lead up the left side on some mixed ground getting some solid cams in before I took on the cornice. Some chimney technique followed by some high feet lieback maneuvers and finally I could swing my tools up over the top. I set the belay and brought Colton up and called my girlfriend and told her to pick us up at Esmeralda Trailhead. There was no way we were making it down the Sherpa Glacier descent in our condition. I told her 5 hours we would be down the Cascadian and up and over Longs pass. HA! 10 hrs later we arrived at the parking lot and no cars were present... we walked the road for half a mile and then there she was! We were saved! She served us up some hot soup and coffee. Much needed. Finally we could go home. This is one Colton and I will remember forever of that I am sure.

 

 

Heading up to the base of the Ice Cliff

GOPR0061_1.jpg

 

Top of the 1st Pitch

2105.jpg

 

2nd Pitch

360.jpg

 

Top of the Ice Cliff

453.jpg

 

Our Bivy Spot

538.jpg

 

Gear Notes:

4 screws, 5 cams (.1 .2 .5 .75 1 BD), 2 pickets, 2 pitons

 

Approach Notes:

Follow the Stuart Lake Trail until the first switchback and head off left and cross the creek. Follow the climbers trail up into the valley below the ice cliff glacier.

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Whoah. Way to hang in there and get yourselves out!

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No need for snowshoes on the approach. The trail was completely dry most of the way except the last half mile I would say when you approached the meadow below the route.

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Nope we didn't see any gear on the route. I was aware of it all being up there too. Colton did lose a glove in the morning so if anyone finds that let me know!

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Wow sounds like classic type 2 fun! Do you guys got to CWU? I've heard a couple people talk about your trip at the climbing wall. Sounds sweet! Trying the Colchuck-Dragontail traverse this weekend, hopefully the snow settles with this warmer weather.

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Nice job enduring a cold unplanned bivy but it would have been a better job not having one in the first place.

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We headed right towards the bergschrund. And this is about the time it really got awkward. The snow had went from ankle deep to a full on wallow fest. Colton was battling for several minutes to gain 10 feet of progress. The snow was now up to our shoulders, but we just kept on moving.

 

Good thing that was well bonded, cause if it had slid you'd both be dead

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I was wondering if bailing was considered. Maybe I'm just overly cautious (kids will do that), but when conditions aren't right I don't hesitate to turn around.

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Good job persevering and adjusting your plans as things changed.

 

Would you do anything differently in the future?

 

 

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way to get it done, and remain fully intact!

 

Sounds like a bit of a suffer fest, especially with shoulder-deep snow. I'm also curious if bailing was considered, especially with the deep snow/avy risk/slow progress. If I foresee snow that's more than knee deep I usually bail for a variety of reasons, but then I'm a whimp.

Edited by maurop

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Thanks for the reminder to put a garbage bag back in my pack and for the TR!

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Bailing crossed our minds at one point but by the time we hit the deep snow we had a few hundred feet to top out. Descending most of the route with 1 rope didn't seem like a good option. Also the deep snow did not continue the whole rest of the route. It was from the start of the upper cirque until the bergshcrund if I recall correctly. So we had about 2 rope lengths of fairly flat wallowing on the base of the cirque. What I would do differently in the future? I am always packing a space blanket from now on. Also I think I will look for bigger weather windows. The one on Saturday was small but It looked decent enough to give it a shot. Doing the route as a 2 day trip would also be much more enjoyable :D. We did not summit, we just got the hell outa there.

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