Stuart Range Linkup Failure

This past Friday, Jens Holsten and I attempted a diverse Stuart Range linkup that combined winter climbing, summer alpine rock, and a lowland cragging route, along with one of the best hikes in the United States.

The Forest Service opened the gate on the road to the Colchuck Lake trail about 12 hours before our scheduled departure, and so we were excited to avoid an additional 4 miles of road walking.

We left the car a few minutes past 2AM and quickly hiked the 4 miles to Colchuck Lake. I think we began climbing Dragontail Peak's Triple Couloirs route at about 4:45 or so.

We found the ice runnels to be very thin compared to other recent ascents. We had breakfast in the sun atop Dragontail about 6hrs15mins after leaving the car, and quickly boot-skied down onto the plateau. From here we followed some recent bear tracks over toward Prusik Peak.

I was planning on leading all pitches on Prusik's "Der Sportsman" route, and we actually waited around for 30 mins or so below the face to allow it to warm up. P1 faces East and hadn't received morning sun when I began leading. Pulling through the pitch's first 5.11 move, I felt and heard a sickening "pop" and immediately knew I'd screwed up my finger. I had tweaked the tendon or pulley earlier in the week at Nason Ridge, but thought I'd  given it the needed 2-3 days of rest. I guess cold finger locks with no warmup was a stupid idea!
( What I probably screwed up )
 I bailed from the lead and taped up my finger, making it unbendable. Jens and I settled on a climb of Prusik's West Ridge, which was a lot of fun, but not really something we'd hoped for.

Der Sportsman on Prusik Peak

We slogged through slushy snow and post-hole switchbacks  down trauma rib, past Nada and Snow Lakes, until we reached a gear stash at the turnoff to Snow Creek Wall. We split a PB&J for dinner and decided that our intended climb, Hyperspace, was too finger-intensive for my injury to handle. We consoled ourselves with the fantastic 5.9 "Outer Space" and made it back down to the road at about 9pm.

It was really a blast to be able to combine such a fun hike with a long north-facing snow and ice route, a classic sunny alpine rock ridge, and a beautiful cragging wall, but at the same time I'm definitely aware that I need to pay more attention to aches and pains resulting from so much overhanging and crimpy climbing.

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