Mt. Stuart Upper North Ridge Direct (Late August '13)
Attempt 1: From Leavenworth side...Too lazy and took too much gear so bailed before getting on route (Laziness)
Friday: Woke up at 8:30am, made decent time to Stuart Glacier, but we took forever to cross the glacier because I was in my approach shoes, and we were only each wearing a single "insole" crampon, and each only had one ski pole (no piolets)
The wrong way to cross Stuart glacier. But it sure was lightweight!
I then accidentally dropped my pack about 50' down into the gap between the Stuart Glacier and the rock at the gulley leading to the North Ridge's notch.
Looking up from down in the glacier after having descended the wet freezing rock to retrieve my pack.. Lesson: if you're going to throw your pack into a hole, do it somewhere dry.
After retrieving it, we roped up and started simuling. 2 1/2 hours and 2 simul blocks later, we arrived at the Gendarme. This time would have been shorter except my buddy spent 15 minutes trying to get out a fixed nut that I had forgotten to tell him was fixed... : ) my bad
Pre-Gendarme climbing notes:
1. Bring crampons if crossing the glacier (probably obvious to everyone but me)
2. Just rope up at the bottom of the chute going up to the Notch.
3. The climbing is extremely easy up to the gendarme and very easily naturally protected.
4. If you just run the rope around features on the hand traverse, it protects easily and without gear.
5. We continued simuling through the "Slab" pitch and found it to be exceedingly easy. Placed three pieces ofgear on it.
6. If you bring the rack (see below) that we did, you could conceivably simul from the Notch to the Gendarme in a single block.
Michael enjoying the amazing simuling
Looking up the slab at Mr. Great Gendarme
Gendarme: there is one #4 fixed still, and we also placed another #4.
The 5.8 lieback pitch of the Great Gendarme
We slept right after the Gendarme when it got dark. We took a little longer on the Gendarme because I again forgot to note a fixed nut, and because we were pretty tired.
Excellent bivy protected from the wind and featuring amazing sunrise views at the top of the Gendarme
Next morning it took about an hour to get from the top of the Gendarme to the summit.
Me feeling happy on the top
Descent: We went down Ulrich's Couloir but had run out of food the night prior, so despite summiting at about 10am (lazy starting time, again : ) we didn't get back to the car until 6pm. Some awesome ladies offered us some gatorade which totally recharged us while descending from Longs pass. Thank you awesome ladies!
Belaying on the Gendarme while the sun set.
Remarkable Mt. Stuart
Michael happy to be at Longs
(10X) Alpine draws
(2ea) BD Camalot C4s .5-3
(1ea) Red, Gray, Yellow, Green Aliens
(1ea) Metolius Master Cam Purple-Orange
(1ea) DMM Aluminum Offset Nuts
(1ea) DMM Brass Offset Nuts (only two largest sizes)
(1X) 60m 9.8mm rope (50m 9mm would suffice)
One ski pole per person
One insole crampon per person
I wore approach shoes, Michael wore hiking boots. I would recommend light shoes but with full crampons on both shoes, and a ski pole in each hand. Cross the Stuart Glacier later in the day. I took a bivy sack, a sleeping pad, and a 15 degree bag, which was a bit warm. Michael just took a pad and one of those 55 degree synthetic travel bags, and he got soaked the first night, and froze the second night. And he sleeps warmer than the devil, so that was probably a little too lightweight.
More rack notes: As mentioned above, we had an EXCESSIVELY LARGE rack. This made it so we could lead in very long blocks. I would bring only singles of small cams next time. The offset nuts were very useful with the exception of the large blue one.
Oh and we didn't bring anywhere near enough food. And dropping the pack with the car keys in it into the glacier was also not advisable. Descending Ulrich's is also not advisable. Basically we had no right to get to the top, but we made it and it was absolutely stunning climbing.
This was me last summer, & I cannot wait to go back.
Great TR. 4th time's the charm, eh?
I need to work on realizing when something's fixed and not one of Taylor's nuts...
Ingall's resident groundhog...we think
The ridge climbing is absolutely amazing, communicating more photo opportunities would be nice for the nostalgia when I'm 40 (in 20/20 hindsight) however we were moving quick on the ridge so I didn't capture many photos.
Looking down the ridge, notch visible below
I'll mention that I did get altitude sickness before the Gendarme and bunked on energy after that (limited food). I had reached my physical and mental limit, but managed to dig deeper and get ourselves a nice bivy spot with an amazing view.
Bivy Spot after the Gendarme and below a short 5.8 crack
As Taylor mentioned we got a late start to the summit that next morning, and had no right to make it given our circumstances and previous attempts. We were reminded of our humility upon seeing a mountain goat joining us on the summit.
Taylor and the Summit Goat
The descent, as Taylor noted, was brutal. I recommend hiking poles of some sort that collapse into your pack, as mine were constantly hooking on rocks while climbing the ridge, which is a pain in the ass while simul-climbing quickly. They were extremely helpful with my 5x-operated-on 65-year old knees when descending from the summit.
Don't go down Ulrich's. Endless scree, talus and crud.
The ridge climbing - fantastic. Approach via Long's and Goats...arduous. Descent as noted above, masochistic. Views were beautiful. Alpine Lake's area and surrounding scenery are unbelievable. There's so much rock everywhere! Next time we'll have to tackle it via Complete North Ridge Direct.
Man, I guided that one in 1987, I'd forgotten all about that climb...
Nice work Taylor. Brings back memories of a 23 hr car to car 11 years ago, I was 40 then. I wore low top approach shoes with Grivel crampons, loose fit but adequate on the Stuart glacier. We solo'd up to the notch, summited at dark, then began the 6 hr descent down the Cascadian Couloir. Woe to the man who mistakes Ulrich's for Cascadian! BTW the #4 you slung in the OW was there when I was! Stumbled back to truck, hallucinating all the while. ( I remember hearing my L knee creak for the first time heading up to Longs, it still does)
That's a marmot.