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Sherpa glacier decent question

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What would be the typical latest reasonable time you could use the sherpa glacier as your decent for the NR of Stuart?

 

 

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I don't know about typical latest time but I can say it was in in the middle of May in 2014, and at the time looked like it would still have been in for at least a few weeks more.

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the time window to climb the north ridge snow-free in rock shoes and also descend the sherpa glacier is small. the bergschrund at the base of the couloir opens as the season progresses and can be difficult to pass. i have crossed it with zero shenanigans as late as the summer solstice, but that was after a particularly wet and cold spring (2011). the stuart range got a lot of snow this season but it's also been quite warm.

 

another consideration is the heavy gear you might bring along if you were to descend the sherpa. in soft snow conditions with an ice axe, you could down climb the sherpa glacier couloir without much problem in running shoes. in hard snow conditions, i would want an ice axe, crampons and sturdy mountain boots. but carrying all that extra gear up the north ridge is a pain in the butt, which is why i would just go down the cascadian.

Edited by cam yarder

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Don't forget about the option of descending via the Sherpa/Argonaut Col back to Mountaineer's Creek. Though longer, there is no gaping schrund and the snowfield is pretty mellow.

 

Chris Martin and Pete Hirst put out a pretty detailed report about this descent. Kyle Flick and I have done it a couple times too and found it a nice option if you want to approach from the North late Spring/early summer.

 

Basically, generally just stay on the ridge crest unyil you reach S/A col, after summiting Sherpa. although I think Chris and Pete found a shorter way down into mountaineer's Creek.

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I couldn't recommend planning a descent of the Sherpa Glacier without at least microspikes & ice axe. I've descended it twice, comfortably, but I was wearing big alpine boots.

The Northwest Buttress is worth considering - has resident anchors, has historically been a relatively popular northside exit, but it can be tricky to locate the top if you haven't been on it. But if you miss it (and I have) you just end up leaving a few slings and maybe a bit of gear. Finish down the Stuart Glacier and out Stuart Lake.

-Haireball

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Is there any detailed information on the northwest direct buttress descent (e.g. number of raps, length, etc.)?

 

I don't remember much detail (number, lengths, etc), but Haireball and I did the NWB and found relatively consistant tat to allow for a descent. I think if you topped out with enough daylight to negotiate the descent the NWB would be viable, if you topped out in the dark or very late descending the Cascadian might be more prudent.

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Great, thanks so much! We'll be coming down Stuart on the N side, whether it is Sherpa Glacier, NW Buttress Rap, etc, since we'll be camping at stuart lake. Curious to see what the conditions are like on the n side this time of year

 

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I descended the Sherpa Glacier after a N ridge climb yesterday and it's in great condition. An ice ax was really nice to have, but we didn't need or use our micro spikes on this section. The schrund is opening up for sure, but there's still plenty of room to get around it to the East. Once out of the upper couloir, you may want to stay far East on the glacier going around the main crevasse area, especially if late in the morning. We came straight down the whole way and looked back a couple hours later (about 10AM) to see a significant slide come off the upper slopes and right down our lower descent path (over the area where all the water is rushing over the rocks). I'll try to get a full trip report up tomorrow evening.

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