Ascent of Mount Stuart on 2015-09-02

Climber: Michael Phoenix

Date:Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Mount Stuart
    Elevation:6200 ft / 1889 m

Ascent Trip Report

Having our original plan of attempting Mt. Adams curtailed by the Cougar Creek fire, we decided to attempt Mt. Stuart via the Cascadian Couloir. We drove from Seattle to Cle Elum for our wilderness pass, then drove straight to the Esmeralda Basin trailhead. After filtering some water and gathering up our gear, we started off from the trailhead and hiked up the Ingalls Way Trail. As we climbed, we saw great views of Esmeralda Peak to our south. After climbing up numerous switchbacks in a light rain, we finally reached Longs Pass, with a stunning first look at Mount Stuart. The summit was covered in clouds, but we were able to locate the Cascadian Couloir. Since nightfall was fast approaching, we descended down Longs Pass via some unmaintained trails down to a meadow, where we set up camp before dark.

The next morning, it was clear that some light snow had fallen on the summit of Stuart. Neither of us slept well (temps in the upper 30s, with intermittent bursts of moderate rain that woke us up consistently throughout the night). The intermittent rain continued throughout the morning, so we got off to a late start. Unfortunately, we camped further from Ingalls Creek than we had anticipated. We hiked down a surprisingly steep trail down to Ingalls Creek and crossed over some rocks. The log crossing was intact, but the drought had decreased the level of the creek. We continued on the trail and approached a meadow that gradually led us to the beginning of the couloir. The couloir, as advertised, was Class 3 loose rock. It was rather tedious and definitely not the snow climb we were looking forward to on Adams. We climbed up to a large granite outcropping, took in some views, and noting the time, decided to descend. We likely only reached a little above 6,000 ft. We hiked back the way we came and made it back to camp before sunset. Despite our late start, the weather cleared for the remainder of the trip and it was quite a nice hike. Rugged, but nice.

The following morning, we broke down camp and ascended back up Longs Pass. We were glad that we camped where we did, despite the distance from Ingalls Creek, as our packs were heavy and the trail was rather steep. We reached the crest of Longs Pass, took in some final views, and descended as more people started to reach the trailhead for some Labor Day weekend hiking. We saw no one below Longs Pass during our stay at Stuart.

Although it was not the mountain we intended to climb, and is probably not a mountain we would attempt again, we had a great time. Outside of the major volcanoes, Stuart is certainly one of Washington's premier peaks. All told, we hiked approximately 9 miles round-trip, with a cumulative elevation gain of approximately 4,600 feet

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4600 ft / 1401 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4600 ft / 1401 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3200 ft / 975 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2000 ft / 609 m; Extra: 1200 ft / 365m
    Loss on way in:1200 ft / 365 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:Cascadian Couloir
    Start Trailhead:4200 ft / 1280 m
    Time:7 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3400 ft / 1036 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2000 ft / 609 m; Extra: 1400 ft / 426m
    Gain on way out:1400 ft / 426 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:Cascadian Couloir
    End Trailhead:4200 ft / 1280 m
    Time:5 Hours 

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