North Ridge of Mt. Stuart

I made a late-spring climb of the North Ridge of Mt. Stuart the other day with Scott Bennett and Graham Zimmerman. It was their first time on the mountain, and we found it 90% snow free.

P3 5.9 rad
The first gendarme pitch was full of ice and water, and a couple slab portions involved mellow snow kicking, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the amazing climbing and position. They should be principally snow free within a few days. The views from atop the route were spectacular, with peaks from Adams to Baker all visible.

We brought one 60m half rope and Graham led the first 3 pitches (5.8/5.7/5.9). Graham tied into the middle while Scott and I took one end each and we did these as 30m pitches. From here, Scott soloed and Graham and I simuled. Scott re-tied-in for the gendarme and then soloed to the top.



P1 of the gendarme
Our descent was mellow down a very soft Sherpa Glacier, easily managed in tennis shoes with light axes for added security.

The complete North Ridge on Mt. Stuart is certainly one of the best and longest climbs in the region, and it seems to always spark a fair bit of debate about the best way to tackle it in terms of gear and logistics. Here are a few things I'd suggest:

  • Mid-July and earlier - approach and descend from Leavenworth, via the Sherpa Glacier. Take a light aluminum axe, but only tennis shoes. If it's warm enough to rock climb, the glacier will be soft.
  • Later season - approach from Cle Elum, descend Cascadian Couloir and you wont need crampons or an axe.
  • Rack - Take a single set to a #3, with a lot of extra slings, only a few wires, and perhaps an extra purple camalot. This will give you a great rack for long simul-blocks, and allow you to protect the 2nd gendarme pitch (the offwidth) until you can clip the fixed #4 camalot.
  • Rope - Bring a single 60m twin or half rope, and tie into the middle, as well as the both ends. This lets you simul 30m apart. 
  • Pitch out - 3 pitches at the start (5.7-5.9) are all 30m or less, and the 2 gendarme pitches are both just under 30m. Simulclimb everything else which is 4th class and low-5th.

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