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The Direct North Ridge w/ Gendarme

5.9+, Trad, Alpine, 2800 ft (848 m), 20 pitches, Grade IV,  Avg: 3.9 from 183 votes
FA: unknown
Washington > Central-E Casca… > Stuart-Enchantm… > Mt Stuart


The Direct North Ridge combines the North Ridge from the notch with an extra 800 feet of fun climbing. Although loose in spots and somewhat lichen covered, the route offers those looking for a longer, harder day than the North Ridge good solid 5.9+ climbing. It will obviously be faster to simulclimb, my partner and I did this and completed the entire route in 6.5 hours, but the belays for each pitch take good gear and have decent stances.

Roughly the first 3 pitches are the hardest. 1: Climb up easy terrain off a big ledge about 150 feet above the base of the toe to a small tree. 2: Continue up through an awkward 5.8 slot (harder with backpacks) to a face and then to a nice ledge. Small crimps inside the slot for the left hand are useful and make sure to step out on the face with your feet. 3: Follow a striking lie back crack on your left for quite a ways. This is 5.9+ and sustained. Once you pull over a small roof there will be another ledge to set up a belay.

From here veer up and right, following the path of least resistance. The rock at times is loose and almost always covered in crumbly black lichen. It is mostly easy 5th class with an occasional 5.6 move. There is, about 5 pitches up, a short slab traverse that takes you even further to the right. Once you do this, the Notch ridge will come into view and once reached it will connect you with the Upper North Ridge. It takes longer than you think, but keep on trucking.

For the Upper North Ridge look at Max Tepfer's description on this page. To add to it though, begin by staying on the left (east) side of the ridge. Then follow an easy ramp up to the ridge. Move up left over a bulge (5.6) and then on to an exposed section on the west side of the ridge. From here follow the ridge to the super cool 5.5 slab split by an amazing crack and then to the Gendarme--about 8 or 9 pitches from the Notch. The Gendarme can be done in two pitches; 1: a 5.8 lie back and 2: a 5.9+ off-width, or you can link the pitches easily with a 60m rope (use runners to prevent rope drag) which is what my partner and I did. The Gendarme is almost always in the shade and can be very cold or even icy.


The route can be approached from icicle creek and Stuart Lake trail head. This is best if you leave stuff at the base/Stuart Glacier or at the cut off from the main trail. Follow the main trail towards Stuart Lake and continue past the Colchuck turn off. Once you see the obvious pyramid hills keep an eye out for a faint trail on the left. Take this and bush whack around the left side of this peak/hill to the base. Another, longer approach can be done by going to Stuart Lake and then around it on a trail. Follow the marshes on the right side and then move up a steep hill via a fairly obvious trail. Once on top go up and over to a talus, down to a gully and back up towards Stuart Glacier. Well before the glacier move towards the base of the ridge over several humps until you reach the toe of the North Ridge. The descent is the trickiest part and if someone has any good info please post it. My partner and I descended Razor Back Ridge on accident, thinking it was the Northwest Ridge. All I know is that you need to go further than you think after descending the west ridge and doing 3-4 rappels.


HELMET, set of nuts, cams (metolious sizes) doubled from 1-6 and singles from 7-10, about 10 sling/draws, extra runners, cordelette. Optional ice axe and crampons for the descent (In Aug. we did not need them). The third pitch took 2-5 mostly, but up higher a 7 was used. The off-width of the Gendarme took a 9 and 10 which can be walked.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

A view of Ranier on the horizon during sunrise on the approach. Credit:
[Hide Photo] A view of Ranier on the horizon during sunrise on the approach. Credit:
Route Overlay Stuart North Ridge
[Hide Photo] Route Overlay Stuart North Ridge
Looking down the North Ridge of Stuart, halfway up the ridge or so.
[Hide Photo] Looking down the North Ridge of Stuart, halfway up the ridge or so.
Climber leading Pitch 1 of the Gendarme, with the North Ridge stretching below.
[Hide Photo] Climber leading Pitch 1 of the Gendarme, with the North Ridge stretching below.
onward and upward
[Hide Photo] onward and upward
This shows the approach and start.
[Hide Photo] This shows the approach and start.
Approach and Descent map for North Ridge of Stuart.
[Hide Photo] Approach and Descent map for North Ridge of Stuart.
A pitch above the upper crux.
[Hide Photo] A pitch above the upper crux.
Jeromy on an exposed traverse of the upper ridge.
[Hide Photo] Jeromy on an exposed traverse of the upper ridge.
Belay ledge midway up the Gendarme
[Hide Photo] Belay ledge midway up the Gendarme
Route Overlay for The Gendarme.<br>
[Hide Photo] Route Overlay for The Gendarme.
Dave staring up at the menacing gendarme. Credit:
[Hide Photo] Dave staring up at the menacing gendarme. Credit:

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

mark kerns
denver, co
[Hide Comment] i found that the off width pitch on the gendarme protected very well with stoppers in the back of the crack. big exposure, but protected nicely. not so sure about the "plus" rating. i thought that both gendarme pitches were about the same in difficulty. the first is more aesthetic, but the off width pitch climbs great.

also - after the gendarme pitches, trend left towards the summit. when in doubt head to your left. i have yet to find a 4th class path all the way to the summit, but the last time i did this was very close but still had to stop and anchor in for a short pitch of 5th class. i feel that if i would have trended even more to my left i might have finished the ridge with 4th class as described in the becky book.

regarding the approach....most people climb this from the south, coming over ingalls pass, past ingalls lace, over goat pass and then descending from the pass to the toe of the ridge. i did not use crampons or ice axe for this approach and found it to be easy access.

regarding the descent - if climbing from the south - descend cascadian couloir to the east of the summit, cross ingalls greek and find the trail that leads over stuart pass. this is the fastest way back to the trailhead. this climb can be done in a long day from the trail head.

fantastic climb.

mk Jan 21, 2009
Justin York
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] I agree with mark - the offwidth pitch wasn't harder than the layback pitch of the gendarme, and the offwidth section was short. Plus, a fixed #4 to boot!

So high on the route, it was tempting to bypass the gendarme, but so glad we didn't. It was one of the highlights.

We approached from the north which was looooong and so much bushwhacking it's not even funny. Though the campsite was superb, I can't recommend that approach. The glacier descent was in bad shape so late in the season so we circumnavigated the mtn (with a bivy...)over goat pass to get back to camp. Sounds like approaching from the South is more straightforward.

Doing the N. ridge direct was the way to go. The bottom pitches were great and the rest up to the notch was on mostly good rock. Took about 11 hrs from base to summit.

Great adventure! Go do it! Nov 9, 2009
Brian Prince
[Hide Comment] I'd give it 5.9+ for the second pitch of the bottom of the ridge. After the "5.8 squeeze slot" I climbed the corner described here. This is a very pretty, lichen-free sustained fingerish crack in a corner that can be seen from the base. It was way harder than anything on the gendarme or anywhere else on the route. After this I wasn't sure where the route went, but we belayed one more pitch before we wanted to simul.

Fixed #4 is still in the 2nd gendarme pitch as of 8/12 so no need to bring one. A #3 works just fine until you get to it. It's nothing to be scared about. It's also short, as mentioned.

Anyway, I also recommend approaching from the south via Esmeralda/Ingalls Lake/Longs pass Trailhead (I've heard it referred to as all three names. It's the approach often used for just the upper ridge and is described on that page). This requires no crampons or axe (at least later in the season) and was straightforward, if not looonnngg (and that cascadian descent is so miserable). C2C in a day is definitely doable this way though.

I think Mark (above) meant to say that, on the descent, after you descend the cascadian couloir and cross ingalls creek that you find the trail that heads over longs pass, not stuart pass. Good advice is to look at a trail map. Sweet route up (and over, for us) a big ol' mountain. Aug 23, 2012
[Hide Comment] According to Kearney in "Classic Climbs of the Northwest", the 5.9+ pitch on the lower ridge is avoidable by going right to gain a 40' 4" crack. This makes the lower ridge go at 5.8 according to him. He states that there have been several long falls and one serious injury on the left variation. Jul 17, 2015
Nick Drake
Newcastle, WA
[Hide Comment] My partner led out right by mistake on P2, we ended up missing the 9+ layback. Did not see the reported 4" crack, but ended up on a 7 to 8 finger crack layback instead. It probably would have been fun were it not for a ton of lichen that meant your feet were borderline useless. The other party in our group took the 9+, it looks great, was clean and protects well, I wouldn't bypass it. Aug 3, 2015
[Hide Comment] We followed the standard beta, pitching out the first three pitches and the gendarme pitches. We simul-climbed everything else. We used a 60m single rope folded in half for the pitches we pitched out. The leader tied in at the midpoint and hauled the packs on one strand while belaying the follower on the other strand. This worked great and didn't take much time at all.

I think a #4 C4 (or other large cam) is totally unnecessary for the Gendarme offwidth. You can place a #2 at the base of the offwidth and then a #3 higher up. Then there is a 15-20 feet gap until the fixed cam. The pitch is steep and exposed, so any fall would be pretty clean.

Judging from previous trip reports, that fixed cam has been there for at least 10 years. I didn't look at it too closely, but I think it might be a Friend. It didn't seem to be possible to clip the stem of the cam directly, and there is no way I would trust the sling on that cam after being up there for ten years. I ended up slinging the cam like a chockstone.

Regarding the descent, we inadvertently took the route that the Beckey guide identifies as "Variation No. 1" to the Cascadian couloir, which is the first drainage east of the Cascadian couloir. We were following a well-defined trail/cairns up high. We had GPS waypoints for the Cascadian couloir, so we eventually realized we were not on the main route. But by that point, we didn't feel like leaving the trail. The trail periodically disappeared and re-emerged. There was some third-class downclimbing, but on the whole the route wasn't too bad. I suspect a lot of climbers have descended this way, thinking they were descending the Cascadian couloir. Aug 7, 2015
Nick Drake
Newcastle, WA
[Hide Comment] The fixed cam is a gen 2 camalot, I wouldn't whip on it, but I can attest that it did still hold body weight as of this summer :) Nov 6, 2015
Nick Sweeney
Spokane, WA
[Hide Comment] Southern approach note: From Ingalls lake, follow the ridge extending to the West Ridge of Stuart. You should not lose much elevation from Ingalls Lake. Aug 30, 2016
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Did the Complete North Ridge on Aug 29 via the south approach/Cascadian Descent. A few notes:

1. The "Upper" north ridge is 18 pitches, and adding the "lower" north ridge to make the "Complete" (or the Direct) North Ridge means about 25 pitches of climbing and probably about 2700 feet, not 20 pitches/2000 ft as listed here - at least by my first-hand calculations and review of various guidebooks. Big day, even with 20ish pitches of those 4th-lower 5th.

2. If at all in doubt about your ability to do this in a day, bring bivy gear. Descending the Cascadian Couloir at night is not fun, especially if you've never done it before. There are reasonable sites every 4-5 pitches on the climb and summit.

3. By late Aug (of a moderate snow year), there was no snow of consequence on the entire climb/descent. Sharps were fine left at home.

4. Neither me nor my partner are confident on 5.9 offwidth, and we were happy to have a #4 and a #3 in addition to the stuck #4 up there.

5. The Cascadian Couloir isn't that bad (...or maybe I just like suffering) Beware of false cairns leading you into the first gully. Stay on the ridge until just past the false summit, we saw a nice big bivvy site and 3 big cairns then headed down there. The CC is cairned almost the entire way down now.

Have fun, climb fast! Aug 31, 2016
David Bruneau
St. John
[Hide Comment] First alpine climb. Tried to do this car-to-car in a day, in a party of 3 with a 3:30AM start. Summit at 5:50PM from the south approach, then f***ed up the descent by descending the wrong couloir (not too bad) then taking the wrong trail in the dark afterwards (added 15 km to the hike, turned the day into an epic). An absolutely exhausting day - probably best to plan to bivy if you're unsure that you can do the climb and hike quickly enough to do the descent in the light. Or bring a GPS and a proper map...

The climb itself was great, with fairly straightforward routefinding on the ridge. The highlight for me was the upper 3rd of the first simul section, with amazing exposure and perfect easy rock. The lower thin hand crack was the best hard pitch and seemed like the only true 5.9 on the route - a hard 5.9 at that. Gendarme "offwidth" is mostly fists for the average male hand and would be graded easier at many other american crags. I did not feel the need for a #4 (clean fall, #3 just below my feet when I was at the fixed cam). On September 9th the ledges on the Gendarme and much of the flatter terrain above was snow covered, unpleasant but not too bad. We also trundled a huge flake out of the crack on the 1st pitch after ensuring no-one else was below. Sep 15, 2016
Nick AW Brown
Nanaimo, BC
[Hide Comment] We attempted to climb the entire North Ridge in a single day from the Ingalls Creek parking lot. We ended up having a 27 hour epic after losing our way in the dark. Read our account of the adventure for photos, and pertinent info to help avoid making the mistake we did on the descent, or at least for an interesting read...… Oct 2, 2016
Kevin MP
Redmond, OR
[Hide Comment] Casual as a two-day mission with a bivy on the route, and quite spectacular all-around. Would be a huge one-day push but doable for a fast party after knowing the approach and general routefinding. As for water on a late-summer ascent, to avoid carrying unnecessary weight, bring just enough to make it the first 4 miles up to Ingalls Lake. At the lake you can grab water, just enough to get you over Stuart Pass, up over Goat Pass, then down and across the bottom of Stuart Glacier. There is a large stream running from the glacier all summer and you will cross it, last chance to fill up before you continue onto the route. From the summit you can access small snow patches, then there are nice fresh streams when you make it to the bottom of the Cascadian Couloir. Oct 9, 2016
[Hide Comment] Check out this Trip report for doing the DNR with Gendarme Approaching from Lake Ingalls trail head and descending Cascadian couloir. I laid out the pro's and cons for the many approach/descent and route choice options which I hope will be helpful. I also listed at the bottom of the blog post some other blogs that were especially helpful including Steph Abegg's, Eric and Lucy and John Plotz.… Jun 21, 2017
Hans Bauck
Squamish, BC
Calvin Landrus
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Climbed the DNR on 7/31 with my 22 year son (I'm 56) on 7/30. We had two cars so we approached via Mountaineers Creek for a bivi at base of the route in the afternoon of 7/29, climbed the route in 8.5 hours, descended Cascadian Couloir and then up and over Longs Pass. Everyone's beta was pretty accurate. The Gendarme pitches are really, really good!

BETA COMMENT: Not sure how long this has been in place but the road for the south approach, the Esmeralda/Ingalls Lake/Longs pass Trailhead, is blocked off about 1.5 miles before reaching the trailhead proper (as of 7/30/17). Not a big deal but must factor in at least a 1.5 mile longer hike.

Does anyone know why this closer is in effect? There was no obvious road damage to cause this. Please update this if you find the closure is no longer in effect. Aug 1, 2017
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] The Esmeralda Trailhead parking (South Approach) is no longer blocked as of this last weekend when I attempted to climb Stuart. The washout in the road has been repaired.

Also, If approaching from the south you will encounter moderately steep snow field crossings to gain the base of the Direct North Ridge. My partner and I were not prepared to have to cross snow and it lead to a lengthy, tiring 6 hour circumnavigation across talus/scree that was the primary reason we didn't successfully climb Stuart. Plan to bring an ice axe to safely traverse the two 50 foot sections of snow if approaching from the south.

I highly, highly recommend the two car approach (enter from North via mountaineers trail, summit, descend via Cascadian Couloir/Longs Pass/Esmeralda Trail. Aug 8, 2017
Jen Wiebracht
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Myself and three partners did the Direct North Ridge June 21-23rd, 2017. We approached from Stuart Lake via Mountaineer's Creek. We included the Gendarme pitches and took the Sherpa Glacier Descent.

Here is the link to our trip report. Aug 13, 2017
Charles Rackson
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] I wish I hadn't brought a #4! I tried to place it, and almost got it stuck. The crack is just too small for a #4, probably why there's a fixed one there. A 3.5-inch cam would be ideal (what my old guidebook recommends). A somewhat tipped-out #3 worked just fine and felt secure. Also, there are multiple good nut and small-cam placements next to the fixed #4. Even without the fixed 4, a single #3 plus small gear would sew this up decently well.

By the way, the crack didn't feel off-width at all to me. I have small-ish hands and always had very secure fist jams.

A doubled 60m rope is too short for the 5.9 pitch near the bottom of the ridge (the first hard pitch on the lower ridge). If a recently-deceased tree at the top of the pitch had been alive, 30m would have been fine. But I had to go slightly farther to reach a good anchor - we had to simul-climb a bit. Aug 17, 2017
Marlin Thorman
Spokane, WA
[Hide Comment] Climbed this via the Mountaineers Creek approach. I honestly thought the lower half of the route wasn't really that great. The first couple pitches were cool but then the 500m of simul-climbing is mostly easy 5th or 4th class gullies/corners with some walking here and there as well. However the upper North Ridge above the notch was fantastic. The climbing was still easy for a long ways up to the Gendarme but the position was way better out on the ridge crest, and the rock was much cleaner. Not nearly as many loose blocks either. The gendarme pitches are really good. I felt like the layback pitch was harder than the OW (which really isn't an offwidth). I have fairly small hands and got good fist jams the entire way. The rest of the route to the summit is more like the bottom.....loose, chossy, and less than inspiring. If I did it again I would probably just climb the upper ridge. We were 7hrs from base to summit including a 30 min thunder/lightning timeout and some water searching shenanigans. Jul 9, 2018
Jiri Pliska
Jablonec nad Nisou
[Hide Comment] Superb route. First 5.9 pitch (on lower face) feels hard for the grade and is harder than anything else on the route. Number 4" is useless, in offwidth part on gendarme and is easily protected with number 3" and then it is easy and shortly goes another protection. I climb it with my girlfriend with not a lot of simulclimbing in a day from camp under the Ignalls lake. Jul 16, 2018

[Hide Comment] a few (hopefully) helpful tips for folks contemplating this beast of a route.

1) it is easy to look at it as 3000' of climbing and think it will be like 1.5 times the size of a route on the chief or goat wall, etc. in reality, the ridge is about a mile long and you are either climbing or scrambline pretty much the whole time. it would be a better strategy to view this as a 5000' or 6000' route in terms of training, food/water, etc. it is key to simulclimb as much as possible. if you were to pitch it all out, it would probably be something like 50 pitches or something crazy like that. it just keeps going, and going, and going...

2) everything in the cascades takes longer than you think it will. in particular, the approach and descent for this thing are quite time consuming. this plays into part 3...

3) bring a bit more food than you think you will need, and don't pass up chances to top off your water. i made a serious fuck up in not topping my water off at the bottom of the route. the approach took longer than we thought, the day was much hotter than we anticipated, and the smoky air made me really thirsty. it wasn't far up the route and i was trying my best to ration my water, which was not optimal. luckily there was a bit of snow just down and right of the beginning of the "slab with a crack" pitch, not too far below the gendarme.

4) on the way down from the summit, maybe a few hundred feet, there is usually a good water drip. keep your eyes and ears open for this, as it is very helpful. also bring a few tablets so you can get water again down at ingall's creek.

5) the cascades rock book recommends a doubled 60m skinny rope. we used a doubled 70m skinny rope and it seemed like it was just long enough to work well for the hard pitches, a 60m seemed like it might be a bit short.

awesome route for sure, definitely an unforgettable experience. Aug 16, 2018
Mark P Thomas
Draperderr, by Bangerter, UT
[Hide Comment] P1 & P2 seemed more like 5.7 to me. P3 was nice 5.9! A few tricky moves here and there, with a tips crux and lots of great jamming. Great pro the entire way. The pitch shortly after seemed more like 5.8 to me, and a little thin!

Gendarme P1 seemed like hard 5.8 to easy 5.9 and eats up gear. Great stances every 5 ft. P2 crux was right off the belay and traverse into the crack. Crack was more like 5.8, OW was barely noticeable. Great fist crack! Even without the fixed #4 I wouldn't have cared having anything bigger than a #3. Continuing to the top of the Gendarme seemed to have one short 5.8 slabby leaning finger crack section just above a good place to make an anchor to haul packs from.

Final pitch out of the notch behind the tower felt like 5.7 to me - glorious solid hand jams!

Also, I hadn't looked as closely as I should have at the length of the route. Think twice about carrying your full camp up and over! Jul 9, 2019
Phillip Cheesesteak
Bozeman, MT
[Hide Comment] After having done an IAD ascent approaching from the north side, I can hardly recommend this approach option. Lots of 'schwacking. We left the car at 4am, were climbing around 8:30am, and reached the summit around 4:30pm. Our original idea was to descend the Sherpa Pass, but seeing from the top that we were at least 5 hours away from anything resembling a trail, we decided instead to call up our friend in Cle Elum and have them impromptu car shuttle us. This worked out well, though the Cascadian Couloir is somewhat of a shoe, knee, and will destroyer. My recommended approach (for both IAD and an overnighter) would be to leave even earlier from the south side, hike to Ingalls Lake, and choss around the west side down below the Stuart Glacier to the base. Overall a big day, and an even bigger mountain.

Also important to note that there is no water on route this late in the year unless you want to get belayed onto one of the chossy faces to fill up water. There is water at the base and at the top on the south side. Aug 12, 2019
RyderS Stroud
Liming, Yunnan Province, CN
[Hide Comment] Some beta using the car drop, method:

- Verdict: If you can swing it, do it. While it costs more time and gas, it makes the whole climb a lot smoother. No convoluted ridge down climbing (e.g. the West Ridge) or glacier travel (Sherpa Glacier, which only goes during early season). While the Cascadian Couloir is tedious, it is easy. We brought a pair of Microspikes, just in case but never ended up using them (no snow at all as of mid-August). The final walk up to Long's Pass is gradual and easy, especially if you take a nice break in the forest at the bottom of the couloir! I did the southern approach/descent 6 years ago. Definitely a bunch more walking and faffing going over 3 passes to make the loop.

- Time: Makes for a casual 2-day mission. My partner and I didn't get to the base of the North Ridge until ~2:45pm, having left the car around 9am (we stopped for lunch and a water fill-up mission). We were at the bivy notch halfway up the ridge at the start of the Upper North Ridge by 7:30pm. The views from the notch bivy are phenomenal. Personally, it was well worth the extra water we had to haul up...

- The downside: Late-season ascent means that, if you want to do the carry over with the car drop, you have to bring all your water with you. My partner and I each had 4.25 liters of water in our packs for the 2-day ascent, and we ran dry just before reaching the river at the bottom of the Cascadian Couloir. We rationed water enough to provide for 2 days of climbing, a dinner (dehydrated meals), and coffee. If you can handle the weight, bring the water. Otherwise, walk in to the base of the ridge, camp near water there and then blast up the ridge and down the Cascadian in a single day.

Other route notes:

- Approach: The turnoff for the Mountaineer's Creek trail is faint and hard to track if you're not ready for it. Basically, as you approach Stuart Lake, you will see the valley fork into two directions as you reach the swamp described in some beta you will find online. Continue past the swamp and into the forest. Right when the trail takes its first, obvious switchback in the forest, there will be a faint trail breaking off left. This seemed to be what is described as the "mountaineer's trail," since we found a good number of cairns along the way. The turnoff is here: 47.49720, -120.86264. The trail can be fairly hard to follow through the forest. Doing it at night or with limited light would be very hard. Or perhaps I am just "veek"...

- Lower Ridge pitches: Pitch 1 is good fun. If you have a large pack, leave it on a piece beneath the "thrutch" crux. Belay just above that section (just passed a small bulge/slot) and it is super easy to drop a loop to your second and haul your pack up. Pitch 2 is way easier than 5.8 (could be linked with P1 if you have a 60m rope). Pitch 3 is spot on for 5.9 and heaps of fun, though I am not quite sure about the existence of the "finger crack" that folks talk about sometimes. There is some climbing just after the first 3 pitches that were definitely harder than P2.

- Gear: Ditch the #4. Not much use for it. You can weasel some #3s around the crux section. We took doubles from .3-3 and were happy with that decision, especially for simulclimbing. We also included a single .2 X4 and a green 0 C3 along with some nuts. Plenty of gear for long simul blocks.

- Rope: We took a 30-meter, 9.0mm (Sterling Nano) rope. While we couldn't link any pitches on the lower ridge, we could pitch everything out individually just fine.

- The Gendarme: The wide pitch now has a fixed #1 on the traverse. The old #4 at the crux has had its worn out sling replaced with some cord that someone threaded through the trigger. Thanks to the generous human who took the time to replace it... Aug 16, 2019
Sandy Dash
Beaverton, OR
[Hide Comment] Spent most of spring and summer preparing for the different challenges this route has to offer and finally climbed this route on Aug 16-18th, 2019. Here's a detailed TR :…
A few things to mention
1) Despite the climbing is technically easier, the effort feels harder with an overnight pack.
2) Moving with balance is the key.
3) Well prepared safe simul-climbing technique helps alot to speed up the route.
4) Bivy strategy should be dialed in, for a cozy and scenic bivy with breathtaking views.
5) Approach shoes cant be emphasized enough.
6) Route finding skills are critical. Aug 21, 2019
Nick Sweeney
Spokane, WA
[Hide Comment] We hiked in from the North and descended Sherpa Glacier - this seems like a really good option that people avoid for some reason. The Sherpa is a bit steep at the top (you fall, you probably die) but I felt safe and secure with approach shoes, alumnimum crampons and an ultralight axe. There are rappel anchors present on top and on the sides of the glacier that would make this descent viable even when the glacier is very broken - Blake Herrington's guidebook has good beta on this. I would not bother with the convoluted car shuttle option now that I know how straightforward this descent option is. The camp at the head of Mountaineer's creek is incredibly comfortable and scenic! We did deal with significant snow and ice on the "slab with crack" and on the section above the gendarme in Late June. You can read my full trip report at

Also, DO NOT SKIP THE GENDARME! I have heard many stories of people skipping it this year, which results in some terrible, icy gully slab climbing. The gendarme pitches are fair for 5.9 and protect extremely well (i.e. you can aid them if you have to). Jun 25, 2020

[Hide Comment] i am guessing that most people who have done the gendarme bypass will say that the key beta is to not do the gendarme bypass. the handful of folks that i know who have done it all say it completely sucks and is not worth it. Aug 10, 2020
Jay Bruno
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Did this with my partner last weekend (mid - late August 2020) in a single day push. I figured I would add our beta since we had a tough time finding good information on the best way to do the light and fast approach.

We did the car shuttle and approached from the North via the Mountaineer Creek trail, then finished through Long’s Pass and down South to the Lake Ingalls Trailhead. Some of the key take aways my partner and I discussed on the long drive back to our second car.

The car shuttle option was great for a single day push... Even though Long’s Pass is 1400’ of gain, it is gradual switchbacking and felt really manageable after descending the Cascadian Couloir. We were able to almost eliminate our glacier travel kit. (we brought micro spikes and 1 trekking pole each just in case since it was our first time up on Stuart and we didn’t know exactly what to expect)

Finding the start and navigating through the woods and out onto the boulder fields of the approach via Mountaineer’s Creek was time consuming in the dark, but not hard. When you get to the boulder fields there are multiple sets of cairns and different ways to go. They all get you to the same basic place. We tried hard to stick to them at first, then eventually (as I imagine others did) just kinda found our way in the right direction with the path of least resistance.

Climbing with just a day’s worth of water, bars, and goo made the climbing super fast and super fun. All of the crux bits felt easier than their descriptions. I assumed this is because we were carrying little weigh and really only gear plus bullet style packs.

We were able to pitch out the first 3 pitches, the Gendarme, and the 5.8 pitch with enough time to summit and begin the decent before dark. We simul-climbed everything else in 3-4 blocks. If you are comfortable with doing this, I cannot stress enough how much fun it was to move fast and light up the entire route.

We did lose the route near the first set of bivy spots (1/3 the way up the route), but we eventually moved right far enough to find an easy way up. (Not 100% sure if this was the right move, but it worked for us)

We were able to completely skip all glacier travel via the normal Cascadian Couloir descent. Thanks Global Warming! :( Could have left those micro spikes and trekking poles at home. The descent down the couloir is loose and steep. It is tedious hiking, but it went quickly. Blake’s description of how to find the correct couloir was extremely helpful. We got benighted part way down the couloir, but were able to navigate our way to the correct descent all the same.

The Long’s Pass climbers trail was easy to spot and Blake’s guide’s description matches reality. Blake’s descriptions for the win on the approach and decent! There was even a sign on the south side of the Ingall’s Creek trail which alerts you to your proximity of the split. (It is just a bit before the intersection on the east side)

I think we would have been pretty close to our estimate of 20 hrs car to car, but we encountered a hiker whom had taken a 40’ fall down the glacier, lost his headlamp, lost his water, was injured, and extremely dehydrated to the point where he could barely stumble. Naturally we helped him, but it took us an additional 4 hours until we could sort out his situation and get him to a place where he would be safe. So we ended up clocking in at 24+ hrs car to car.

One last thought on water... we each carried 5+ liters of water. We were down to a single liter between us which we gave to the fallen hiker part way down the descent. We each grabbed 1 liter at Ingalls Creek below before ascending Long’s. We are both pretty heavy water drinkers and didn’t feel too badly dehydrated despite stretching our water at the end of the day. Our original estimate of 1L for the approach, 3L for the climb, and 1L for the descent seemed pretty spot on for us. I am glad we had the bonus fill up at Ingalls Creek since we ended up needing it. It was possible to get water higher up on the couloir, if needed.

All in all, I would definitely recommend doing this route in a single push. It is committing, but if you are confident in your abilities, up for the challenge, and ready to move all day, this was such a good climb for a single day.

Quick at a Glance Opinions:

Grades felt soft
5.9 Thin Pitch felt like crux to me
Partner thought the upper Gendarme pitch was the crux
Neither of us could find any offwidth anywhere on the Gendarme (it was fists for us at the widest spots)
Backpack on a long sling low between your legs helped for leading the thrutch
#4 is better off taking a vacation on this route, unless you want the extra training weight ;)
16-20 trad draws on this climb won’t go unused and will help extend you simul-climbing blocks (we brought 18 and stopped simul-climbing twice because we were out of draws)
Light + Fast = FUN FUN FUN!!!!

Even though I think the grades are soft and I did a single day ascent as my first go, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS ROUTE. It is committing, there is no easy way to retreat, it is easily impacted by weather and conditions, it is long, and the descent could easily be the crux if you aren’t paying attention. This is not the route to use to try to “break into the grade” because of how involved the whole thing is. Know your personal limits and be safe. Aug 25, 2020