Mount Stuart Trip Report (#13997)
- Signed By: Tom Breit
- Date submitted: January 03, 1999
A long day -- over 13 hours out and back. I left Seattle around 4:30, and was on the trail at about 7:15. It was a beautiful morning: cool and clear, wild flowers everywhere. I would have expected them to be further gone than at Snoqualmie, since it's lower and hotter there, but apparently not. There was frost on the ground. I stopped several times to take photos; I was deliberately going at a slower pace to conserve energy and try to limit tomorrow's soreness. As I came over the edge of the Long Pass ridge, Mt Stuart loomed before me in all its splendor -- the view of it is a little like that of Whitehorse: you can see the whole route from there. I was worried that there would be no established trail down from the rim, but there was. I followed it down, and across the stream (Icicle Creek) to where the trail connected with the Icicle Creek Trail. Eventually I just left the IC trail and headed towards the mountain cross-country. Fortunately, there was only trees for the first 100 feet or less, then it was open fields on the talus slope. As Beckey says, it's hard to figure out which couloir to take. The standard route it called Cascadia Couloir, and there's another one to the left called Ulrich couloir. I stared up Ulrich before I decided I needed to be more to the south, so I traversed the ridge and got into the next one over, where I saw bootprints, and figured I was home free. Unfortunately, I made a wrong turn, and ended up in a deadend couloir, where I could barely go ahead or back: and I knew if I went up any more that there was no way I'd be able to downclimb it. So, I stopped for a lunch break to relax my nerves, and descended to the right couloir, and headed up. It wasn't as nice as I'd expected; the couloirs are filled with sand and small rocks as well as large ones, so it was kind of messy going up (and a lot worse going down) It really wore down the soles of my boots. There were a surprising number of grasshoppers up there, speckled to blend in with the black-and-white granite. They were pretty high: I saw them well over 9000' There was almost no snow, except for a 100 feet or so near the summit. I had brought my ice axe and crampons, and once again considered caching them somewhere to save weight, but when I needed them, I really needed them. The snow was very steep, and pretty hard, so it would have been dicy to try and make it without them. Below the false summit, I ran into a group of people from the Mazamas in Portland, and again at the summit. In the group was a guy who was 70, with a German accent, and a woman who was the mother of one of the climbers. They were doing it in three days, a much more reasonable way to go. As I approached the summit the weather clouded over a little, light high clouds, and heavier clouds to the north. I couldn't see Shuksan at all, and Glacier Peak was socked in. I saw Mt. Daniel; it looks just like in Beckey's illustrations. The descent was a little tricky: you decend 100 yards or so, then turn to the right below a tower. Another group of three guys was there, they had climbed the west side. I followed one of them down until it was clear he was well below the tower, so I went right. The other two of them continued on down, way ahead of me, but I ran into them on the trail. I ran out of water, and so at the bottom I refilled my bottle from the waterfalls at the base of the Ulrich couloir. I was a little worried about the possibility of Giardia, but my mouth was dry clear back to my throat, and I figured it was pretty safe since it was melting snow, so what the heck. The walk out was beautiful. I was tired, and ready to be home, but it was nice. There's something about the dry scenery there that is very pleasant. When I left the ridge, after a couple of final photos, I looked for those guys from the West face, but couldn't see them. Near the car I passed an older couple. The man said he'd climbed Stuart a couple of times; he had a German accent, like the old Mazama climber.