Dane, Derek, and I all wanted to get a climb in on the 4th of July holiday. Dane suggested Stuart, I had been wanting to climb it for some time so I was in. Derek, although already having climbed the peak more than once, was in as well.
Dane arrived at my place shortly before 7 Tuesday evening and we were off shortly there after. We stopped in Cle Elum for a beer and a burger and headed out to the Esmerelda TH where Derek was waiting for us. We hung out for too long and I hit the hay around midnight. Up at 3:30 and on the trail by 4:15.
We made the trail junction for Longs Pass in short order but the large avalanche gully was still filled with deep snow, obscuring the trail. Rather than aimlessly searching for it, we headed straight uphill toward the pass. The sunrise was awesome.
After seeing the alpenglow on Rainier, I thought I could make Longs Pass to get some shots of glow on Stu. I booked it up but no glow, I think I missed it only by a minute or two. I was, however, greeted at the pass by two kid goats.
Although I missed the alpenglow, sunrise was still awesome.
The three of us regrouped at the pass, and headed down towards Ingalls Creek.
We made good time down to the creek and it was time for the log crossing. The log has broken sometime since last summer but is still easy to cross.
A short distance after we crossed Ingalls Creek and we were at the base of the Cascadian Couloir. The first bit of the ascent is on a nice, easy-to-follow boot path. It is impossible to miss from the Ingalls Crk trail.
The first third of our ascent was simple and uneventful, although pretty steep. We were all feeling great and spirits were high.
Eventually the Cascadian opens up, we found ourselves in a broad, open slope below Mt. Stuart's false summit.
Sherpa and the Enchantments also come into view from here.
We kept ascending until we found ourselves at the base of the huge snowfield that takes you up to the false summit. Here we put on crampons and took out our axes.
I quickly found that I was less than comfortable with the steep, firm snow so I traversed over onto the nearby rocks. Derek came along with me, the scrambling was exposed and tough. We lost a lot of time in this section.
After realizing that the decision to scramble was a mistake, we traversed across the upper end of the snowfield so that we could wrap below the south side of the false summit.
After this, it was just a simple scrambily traverse with minor route finding challenges over to the summit of Stu.
There was one last bit of snow that we had to cross below the summit. It looked like it could be imposing from below but once up top it was nothing.
We made the summit at 12:25, 8 hours and 10 minutes after leaving the car. There were a few clouds that had drifted in but the views were still decent. All of the contents of the summit register were completely soaked and soggy. We could not find any dry paper to sign, anybody heading up there in the near future might want to bring some dry paper.
After about 45 minutes on the summit it was time for the long slog back to the car.
The plunge stepping down the snowfield was pretty good although still a little bit crunchy. It got better toward the bottom where Dane got in a nice glissade and I got in one of the longest boot glissades I have ever done.
We had been playing around with the idea of going and checking out Sherpa but after checking the watch we decided to pass.
We met a couple here that we had talked to at the TH the night before. They had lost the trail back at the junction just like we had, but wasted a bunch of time trying to find it, they timed out at the bottom of the snowfield. They were the only people we saw on the mountain all day.
The descent back down the Cascadian was long and tiresome.
After a quick break at the base of the Cascadian it was time for the last bit of elevation gain back up to Longs Pass.
I had a beer stashed in the snow at the pass. It tasted really good.
The hike back down to the car was slow going with one last goat encounter.
Back at the car at 7:45, we heading into Cle Elum for beers and burgers. After that, Dane and I heading west for Seattle and Derek headed back to Wenatchee. All in all, a totally awesome way to spend the 4th! Great climb with awesome company. I hope to get out again with you guys in the future!!
Great pics Fletcher!!!
It was a pleasure being able to summit Stuart with good company and nearly perfect weather. One of the toughest day climbs I can remember doing! Definetely have to meet up and conquer a few more summits this Summer.
-------------- When asked "Why do you climb"? Simply respond "Why don't you"?
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