Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Daphne H

[TR] Mt. Stuart - Complete North Ridge with Gendarme 8/6/2016

Recommended Posts

Trip: Mt. Stuart - Complete North Ridge with Gendarme

 

Date: 8/6/2016

 

Trip Report:

Following in the wake of my recent successes climbing in the North Cascades and the Bugaboos, I decided I was ready to challenge something a bit harder. My partner was keen on climbing the complete north ridge of Stuart, and the weather was looking amazing for the weekend, so on Friday evening, I found myself yet again on another 4+ hour drive down to Leavenworth from Vancouver.

 

There are already a number of detailed trip reports and topos on the complete north ridge of Stuart, so this will just be some photos and comments on the condition of the route.

 

We approached from the Stuart Lake trailhead, expecting to follow Steph Abegg's descent path down Sherpa Pass or the Sherpa Glacier(as outlined in her trip report). We heard about 6 avalanches over the course of our ascent on day 1, and there were numerous human eating crevasses strewn across the glacier, so we quickly ruled out the north side for our descent path and decided we'd descend via the Cascadian Couloir.

 

P8063916.JPG

Crevasses on Sherpa glacier

 

We had a bit of trouble picking up the actual trail when we turned off onto the climber's trail. I definitely would recommend spending some time trying to follow the trail instead of just bushwhacking straight up and over the hill, as we ended up lost and trying to find our way for much longer than we needed to.

 

P8084019.JPG

Turnoff onto the climber's trail. It's easy to miss due to deadfall.

 

There was quite a bit of boulder hopping when we finally picked up the trail. We were expecting to be right next to the creek, but we ended up way above it, so there wasn't a lot of water available. The talus fields were endless - every time we left one and went back into the forest, we would emerge at another.

 

P8063892.JPG

One of the endless talus fields

 

When we got to the base of the route, I found that one of my climbing shoes had fallen off my pack and I was left with only the right shoe. I tried to climb the first few pitches in my left hiking boot, but found it way too difficult. Luckily my partner was up to the challenge of climbing the entire route in his approach shoe, so this is what we ended up with:

 

P8063914.JPG

BEST PARTNER EVER!!!

 

His feet are much bigger than mine, so it was a bit interesting adjusting to clown feet, but definitely better than hiking boots :) If anyone approaches from the North, and sees a left foot Miura, please take a picture and let me know :) I'd love to see how that little guy is doing.

 

There are still a couple of patches of snow at the base of the route, and it isn't in direct sunlight for a lot of the day, so it's easy to melt water to bring up with you if you don't want to lug it all the way up to the base. Otherwise there is a bit of running water nearby. I could see it from the ascent but I didn't bother going over to check it out, so I don't know how easy it is to get to.

 

The first three pitches were definitely noticeably harder than the rest of the route, and we pitched them out (especially because of our shoe situation). The third pitch, the 5.9 "tight hand" crack, looked much easier than it was, because the crack flares a bit so gives the impression that it's wider than it actually is. The remainder of the ridge was pretty fun, with a couple of moves up to mid 5th class, but mostly 4th class.

 

Our objective was to get to the Gendarme by sunset, bivy, and then summit early the next day. We came across a gorgeous bivy spot where (I think) the upper north ridge meets the complete north ridge, and it was too good to pass up, so we decided to set up camp there for the night. There are still a couple of snow patches left over there that we were able to melt water for. There's also a rap anchor just off to the west, so you can rap down to the glacier and get some water, or just climb down and back up (I didn't do this, but it looked well worn, and like it was 4th class)

 

P8073941.JPG

Sunrise from the bivy. PC: Bertin Wong

 

P8073939.JPG

enjoying a cup of McDonalds coffee in the morning!

 

P1130954.JPG

PC: Bertin Wong

 

We had a gorgeous view of the night sky, the milky way, and a ton of constellations. Pikachu enjoyed the view too ;)

 

P1130944.JPG

PC: Bertin Wong

 

The next day, we were pleased to find that we weren't actually that far from the Gendarme. Due to our shoe situation, we weren't entirely sure if we were going to climb it or not, but when we got there we figured that we might as well. The first pitch was definitely one of my favourites on the entire route, so I'm glad we did. I wasn't a huge fan of the offwidth though. My partner commented that although the #4 cam stuck in the offwidth still looks solid, the cord hanging off it looks like it's in pretty rough shape, so may not last much longer, and may be pretty hard to clip in the near future.

 

P8073961.JPG

The really fun slab with crack.

 

We didn't actually see or hear any other people until we hit the summit, and the teams we did run into all ascended via the Cascadian Couloir. This was a pleasant surprise, as we were expecting the route to be a highway on this gorgeous weekend.

 

P8073971.JPG

Summit Selfie!

 

Descending down the Cascadian Couloir was relatively straightforward. There were numerous cairns leading us across the ridge, contouring around the south ridge. We were tempted a couple of times by Ulrich's couloir, but following trip reports that we'd printed out, continued following the cairns and were thankfully able to avoid getting cliffed out on Ulrich. We just kept on going until we figured we must be at Cascadian, and then went a bit further. As other trip reports stated, you can't see Cascadian Couloir from the summit of Stuart - you have to actually head east and go over the south ridge before it's visible, and it definitely looks a lot more mellow than Ulrich (and Ulrich looks pretty good from the summit of Stuart).

 

There was a bit of snow left in the couloir, but we were able to avoid all but about 15ft of it. There is also a rap ring right above the snow, so that patch can be avoided if desired by rapping over it. The bootprints are pretty distinct so we didn't need crampons or axes to pass over this.

 

P8073981.JPG

The 15 ft of snow that you have to cross. There's more skiers left, so if you want to avoid the talus, you can go down the snow instead, but it's definitely avoidable.

 

P8073983.JPG

Looking down at Cascadian Couloir. Go right.

 

Following previous trip reports, we stuck skiers right when we reached a plateau. There are tons of cairns, so we just kept on following the cairns. Eventually the cairns bring you into a distinct gully, with a path going off to the right. You can go down the gully, or you can take the path. We took the path, and it brought us through meadows, into a path that splits into three (left, straight down, right), and all three of those paths bring you back down to the hikers trail.

 

The route from the trail to the top of Stuart Pass is pretty straightforward. It got pretty windy on top of both passes - definitely bring a windbreaker. We also made sure to fill up on water before we started ascending the ridge to the pass - this was a good idea because we didn't come across another water source until we dropped Goat Pass and made it to the valley on the other side.

 

P1140030.JPG

Bundled up on top of Stuart Pass

 

After dropping down from Stuart Pass, we saw footprints leading across the snow, so followed that. After some boulder hopping, we ascended the scree to the top of the flat ridge on the other side. There's a ton of footprints and a pretty distinct path.

 

Because we didn't anticipate taking the Cascadian Couloir down, we ended up taking longer than expected and ran out of food and water. We met an awesome group of hikers at Stuart Lake, who kindly offered us their food and water, which was very much appreciated. Thanks so much Lindsay, Dave, and Briton!

 

P8084011.JPG

Food!

 

P8084018.JPG

Final view of Stuart Lake before descending back down to the car

 

The final couple of miles were easy, but absolutely painful and tedious. We descended to the cars from the lake in about 1.5 hours, and drove off to Leavenworth to enjoy a lazy day of bratwurst and coffee.

 

Gear Notes:

-double rack to #2, single #3

-nuts (didn't use)

-2x micro traxion and 1x tibloc for simul climbing

-crampons (we needed them for unavoidable snow in our descent in the dark, but I'm pretty sure you can avoid snow descending Goat pass)

-ice axe (same as crampons)

-60m rope (probably could have used a 30, with a small amount of simul climbing on pitch 2 of the Gendarme)

- 4 slings

- 6 alpine draws

- half zlites each

 

Approach Notes:

We approached from the Stuart Lake trailhead. Easy trail to an unmarked turnoff (see pictures). From there, we lost the trail due to deadfall and bushwhacked over a hill. We dropped down the other side along rocky ledges, and continued bushwhacking towards Stuart until we picked up a trail leading across talus fields. Definitely would try approaching from the south next time. Longer, but the trail is much easier.

Edited by Daphne H

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice job. I've always found that sticking by the creek when going up mountaineers creek after leaving stuart lake trail is the way to go instead of the endless talus sidehilling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You guys are tearing it up! TFT and CNR on back to back weekends. Plus, you guys did the deproach the hard way. Nice effort!

 

FYI, the glacier in your photo (and presumably the one you mention calving?) is the Ice Cliff Glacier. The Sherpa is one cirque to the east from there and isn't nearly as crazy looking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job making it happen w/ all the complications. I'd probably have bailed when I discovered the missing climbing shoe. The Sherpa glacier descent is always out of shape by this time of year. It's doable, but definitely more involved, slower and far more hazardous (this time of year) than walking down the Cascadian. The FKT for the CNR was set last year (6:45!) from the south, because it's way faster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nice job. I've always found that sticking by the creek when going up mountaineers creek after leaving stuart lake trail is the way to go instead of the endless talus sidehilling.

 

thanks! we figured there had to be an easier way, but the cairns suggested otherwise... where do you drop to the creek? Just cross it once you leave the hikers path, and follow it immediately?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You guys are tearing it up! TFT and CNR on back to back weekends. Plus, you guys did the deproach the hard way. Nice effort!

 

FYI, the glacier in your photo (and presumably the one you mention calving?) is the Ice Cliff Glacier. The Sherpa is one cirque to the east from there and isn't nearly as crazy looking.

 

Ahh ok that makes sense! Trip reports we were reading were saying that Sherpa glacier looked ok, so I was a bit surprised to see that mess!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great job making it happen w/ all the complications. I'd probably have bailed when I discovered the missing climbing shoe. The Sherpa glacier descent is always out of shape by this time of year. It's doable, but definitely more involved, slower and far more hazardous (this time of year) than walking down the Cascadian. The FKT for the CNR was set last year (6:45!) from the south, because it's way faster.

 

6:45 is insane... i don't think i could do the approach alone in that time, let alone the entire thing!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thanks! we figured there had to be an easier way, but the cairns suggested otherwise... where do you drop to the creek? Just cross it once you leave the hikers path, and follow it immediately?

 

Don't follow the cairns! Yes, after crossing the one branch of the creek coming from Stuart Lake shortly after leaving the main trail, you pretty much stay near the other fork of Mountaineers creek the whole way from the main trail. Stay on the west side of the creek, but within sight of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I knew there had to be an easier way!! well, now I know for next time, thanks for the beta :)

 

thanks! we figured there had to be an easier way, but the cairns suggested otherwise... where do you drop to the creek? Just cross it once you leave the hikers path, and follow it immediately?

 

Don't follow the cairns! Yes, after crossing the one branch of the creek coming from Stuart Lake shortly after leaving the main trail, you pretty much stay near the other fork of Mountaineers creek the whole way from the main trail. Stay on the west side of the creek, but within sight of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×