Trip Report    

Mount Stuart/West Ridge

One day Stuart trip, weather was perfect but lingering snow on Stuart slowed us down.

  • Sun, Jul 17, 2022
  • Mount Stuart/West Ridge
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • There was no snow on the approach to Ingalls Pass. Some snow from Ingalls down to the lake. The lake is still partially frozen over. We got water at Ingalls Lake. Pretty Snow free from Lake Ingalls to  the pass/ start of the scramble. We started from the TH at 5:45am, so all the snow was still hard/frozen on our ascent.  We didn't put on the micro-spikes / get out the ice axes till we hit the higher  snow crosses on the climb itself. Wish we had crampons. The climb that day couldn't be done safely without an ice axe.  The snow crossing on the west ridge ascent route was so hard we couldn't kick steps and we had to chop steps with our ice axe. With mountaineering boots/crampons that may not have been an issue. We probably should have roped up or just climbed up to the 5.4 /  rock  above (another party mentioned choosing that option & roping up). The rest of the scrambling was great quality granite. We roped up for the final two pitches per my request though it didn't seem much different from the rest of the scrambling on the ascent. Two large 300m snow  patches on the descent were a lot softer and easier to travel on. I didn't put on micro-spikes for those.   The lower snow patch  was great and you could prob run down it. I think this is the point where we didn't stay far enough right and may have not gone down the actual Cascadian couloir. We ended up following like 6 other people down a couloir with cairns, but it led to a bushwhack so I think we were off. Worked out just fine though and we crossed the path pretty quickly. The way back once on trail was great. It looks like there was a big blowdown this winter on the approach to Longs Pass which meant a lot of downed trees to cross. One tiny patch of snow to cross at the very top of Longs Pass.

I did my basic rock climb at Ingalls over the July 4th weekend and after seeing Stuart, I knew I wanted to come back for it. Drove to the TH the night before, woke up at 5:00am and hit the trail around 5:45am. I wasn't feeling particularly spry and tried to convey to my partner that we probably wouldn't be hitting his 7:30-7:45 car to car time goal (we really did not). Got to Ingalls in 1 hour. Headed down to the Lake where we stopped and enjoyed the view/he got water.image000008.JPG There was strong winds to this point and it looked from the rapid cloud movement through the pass, that we would be hitting strong winds, which was not indicated in the forecasts. By the time we got to the base of the scramble things had calmed down and we began the ascent  of that glorious granite staircase. We ran into a party of two at this point.  They said it was their first time on the route and were nervous about route finding and hoping to follow us,  but we soon lost sight of them due to differing paces. My partner had done the route 6-7 times in the past, but the route finding was still challenging and he said a few times that we were not going the way he had gone in the past. Snow crossings may have caused part of the navigational challenges. There was a significant snow crossing we wish we had crampons for/not just micro-spikes. I wish we had just climbed around, but all the crossings were fine. image000004.JPGimage000005.JPGimage000003.JPG

The scrambling was fab and we "roped up" for the last two pitches/simul climbed a tiny  bit of the last one since the rope I had didn't get us to the summit. Someone had left slings/carabiners on the rappel anchor after the first pitch, which we left. We met another larger party at the summit that had come up the Cascadian. After lunch at the top we headed back down. Took like 10 hours plus TH to TH, so a very long day. I think the snow travel, many long breaks, roping up, heavier packs, and route finding really slowed us down. I think if I came back later in the season we could do it closer to 8 hours sans snow, but who knows. Ten hours didn't feel slow, it felt like a solid effort, but not rushed. Used a mega jul to belay for the first time. Overall a great successful day in the mountains. image000000.JPG