Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

West Ridge

5.6, Trad, Alpine, Grade III,  Avg: 3 from 63 votes
FA: Lex Maxwell, Fred Llewellyn, and John Vertrees
Washington > Central-E Casca… > Stuart-Enchantm… > Mt Stuart


From Ingalls Lake hike the ridge towards Stuart Pass (stay mainly on ridge). When possible cut right across the talus slope and head towards the 2nd prominent gully.

This is the start of the climb, but mainly 3rd and 4th class scrambling will take you all the way to Long John Tower, which is gained by going to the top of the gully and then moving right and down a little into another gully.

The easiest way up to the notch behind Long John Tower is on the right side (see pic.). Once to the notch head almost straight up and then start veering right on ledges. This is mainly 3rd and 4th class and sometimes exposed. Go almost up to the West Horn and traverse around it on a large ledge.

From here, keep moving right until you reach the West Ridge Notch, which is the second prominent notch. Climb up to its right and onto another large ledge that will take you around to the North Side (and the most fun climbing of the route). Climb up and left on the North side on easy fifth class rock and then pull back onto the ridge. From here, climb up to the summit. There are many options (some of which are up to 5.6).

The route can be done with very little technical climbing, but route finding can be confusing at times (although not as bad as many say). The best part of the route comes once you reach the North side and all the way to the top.

Descent: The Cascadian Couloir is the easiest, but lacks any aesthetic qualities. Once you get to the bottom take the Ingalls Creek trail (trail 1215?) back to Ingalls Lake.


Hike in from Cle Elum via the Ingalls Way Trail. Drive to Cle Elum, follow signs to Wenatchee, after about 7 miles turn left onto Teanaway River Rd. and follow to its end (about 23 miles).

On hike: At about .5 miles go right at trail split, at about 2.5 miles go left and in about 1.5 miles you will reach the crest of the hike and campsites. Stay left to get to Ingalls Lake, which is about 1.5 miles more.


Standard alpine rack: Helmet, set of nuts, small to medium cams (roughly #2-#8 metolius), long runners and carabiners.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

My first mountain. This was the buggiest trip I have ever taken, and the most exhausting. My brother and his friend Max took me up Stuart sometime in August. We hiked in to the first ridge, and camped. The next morning we got up at 4, and then hiked, climbed, descended, and hiked out. made it to the car at 10 PM. A very full day for a 12 year old.
[Hide Photo] My first mountain. This was the buggiest trip I have ever taken, and the most exhausting. My brother and his friend Max took me up Stuart sometime in August. We hiked in to the first ridge, and cam…
The route up to the notch behind Long John Tower.
[Hide Photo] The route up to the notch behind Long John Tower.
Moving up around Long John Tower on beautiful stone.
[Hide Photo] Moving up around Long John Tower on beautiful stone.
Headed towards Long John Tower
[Hide Photo] Headed towards Long John Tower
The Summit Pitch. We Roped up for this one and the Pitch below it.
[Hide Photo] The Summit Pitch. We Roped up for this one and the Pitch below it.
Making the "Air Step"
[Hide Photo] Making the "Air Step"
The easiest way to the notch behind Long John Tower (4th class).
[Hide Photo] The easiest way to the notch behind Long John Tower (4th class).

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

J. Thornton
[Hide Comment] A more direct approach to the notch below the Upper West Ridge is the West Ridge Couloir route. This route goes up couloirs and gulleys to the notch. In early June long sections of 35-degree snow where encountered, and ice ax and crampons were used. Follow the approach to the South Headwall route, but depart from that at the fork at the 7000-foot elevation. Go up the left couloir and continue to the notch. The South Headwall route description has a photo of the south slopes showing the approach for this. This is shorter and quicker than the Full West Ridge route, but might not be as good. Jan 19, 2014
Nick M
Driggs, ID
[Hide Comment] Very cool! I came expecting great scenery and tons of choss, but was pleasantly surprised at the rock quality. The lower route climbs 4th class gullies on exquisitely solid stone, and the more exposed upper section in 5th class terrain felt very good as well. I found route finding up high would be difficult if you're dead-set on the verbatim Becky 5.4 version; otherwise, it's great choose-your-own-adventure 5.6+. The route had little actual ridge climbing; though 'SW Gullies' may be a better name, I felt it compared favorably to some High Sierra classics of similar grades. The scenery and position of the approach are very high class as well.

The Cascadian Couloir descent wore me down more than expected due to its size. If you don't need to return to Ingalls lake, the Long's Pass route is quick back to the car. Route finding around the Ingalls Creek / Long's Pass trail junction could pose problems at night, as neither seem well traveled and often appeared as washes.

The short N aspect 4th class pitch near the top often gets rime iced from clouds and wind, even on mild summer days. A little more ice than what I had would have changed my experience as a soloist dramatically.

Enjoy! Jul 29, 2015

[Hide Comment] from the tick list it looks like a few people have done this route when there likely was a decent amount of snow. i am curious about how it was and what you used for the descent. also, if anybody has relatively current conditions, that would be great. thanks! May 15, 2017
Nate Ball
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] We did this route very differently than most. We ended up doing 9 pitches of roped-up 5th-class climbing. This was unintentional, quite taxing, and caused us to get off the mountain really late, but I thought we took a much better line than the gullies most people take. 19 hours camp to camp... with shenanigans.

We started as everyone does up the prominent gully with great solid rock. This branches, but take the obvious path as high as possible to some steep rock around a tower to the shoulder, and then drop into the next gully to the east. There is an inviting tower above this with a corner up to a ledge on its left side, which starts at the top of this gully. This had a lot of snow, which we walked around to get to the top of the gully. We roped up here. We climbed straight up this corner - the first pitch was 5.easy and the second had a brief move of 5.7? around a slung block and then more 5.easy to the big dirty ledge with the tower immediately above us. We then climbed up the loose corner in the back of this ledge to a shoulder/ridge, realized the tower above was not the summit and that we still had a long way to go, then turned back west and pitched out another 5.easy bit before scrambling to the very western point of the upper ridge. Our friends saw us from the summit pitches, having started much earlier, and they noticed we were higher than we were supposed to be. This was not a problem as we were able to follow the ridge on its south side all the way to the summit block. We made the "air-step" around the right side of the tower (this is Long John?) and then proceeded downwards toward the actual summit. Once we reached the summit block, we moved up the gully at the base nearly to its highest point and began up 5.easy ramps to a ledge. Another pitch straight up on fun, well-protected cracks with stemming and an airy 5.7? step around a corner on jugs then across a ledge and up a wide crack with a chockstone to another big ledge. Another pitch up a slot until it popped out on the west ridge proper, then down-climbed back to a dirt ledge on the south side briefly before moving back up to a tight corner with a slight overhang. The moves off the belay here were probably 5.8ish but brief and well-protected, leading into easy scrambling to a chimney and a little perch. From here it was a final pitch of easy ridge scrambling to the summit.

The Cascadian Couloir was easy to find, but farther from the summit than expected. There was a lot of snow at the top, and the down-climb into it looked quite precarious, so we were happy to find a slung horn that we were able to make a 60m double-rope rappel from - a single 60m would have worked too, but we enjoyed rappelling down the last bit of snow. Then the thousands of feet of heinous kitty litter skiing began. Roughly 2/3 of the way down, we encountered steep cliffs which apparently you're supposed to down-climb, but we ended up cutting left/east through a boulder field and then picking our way down game trails until we crossed back over the valley/creek when we saw a trail and a huge cairn. From here it was a straightforward descent through thick brush to the Ingalls Creek trail. It was starting to get dark by this point.

As we made our way up the valley we lost the trail a couple times. Once before the Long's Pass junction at a patch of sand and wildflowers where the trail just suddenly disappeared, only to reappear on the other side of this field (lost time looking for it). We continued on past the Long's Pass junction and then lost it again in a talus field. It was proper dark now. There was a small creek on the other side and a slight uphill. In the darkness we had no luck finding any semblance of a trail and ended up following Headlight Creek, which we didn't realize turns southwest, away from where we wanted to go. Stumbled around in the darkness for awhile until we oriented ourselves northward and got back onto the trail.

Last notes... there are a silly number of built-up bivy sights along the ridge. Please use these instead of building your own. Deconstruct it when you're done if you're feeling extra-cool. Covering your poop and toilet paper with a rock next to the trail is not how it's done in the wilderness. All tat that we found and/or used was in good condition. Radical area, and it seems word is out... Alpine Lake was a circus on the Sunday we headed out. Jul 31, 2017