Climbing block #3 - Mount Stuart, WA

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Gary Neben
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Climbing block #3 - Mount Stuart, WA

Post by Gary Neben » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:44 pm


Mount Stuart 9415
2017/08/01, Tuesday

Start/End Loc: Road closure for Esmerelda TH, Teanaway River Road
Distance/Elevation: 17.2 miles RT/8332 feet elevation gain

This is the third and final peak in a block of peaks that I came to the PNW to do in 1½ weeks. The first block of peaks centered on Mount Olympus that I did with fellow Coloradans Jim and Kurt, and the second block of peaks centered on Mount Adams that, like Stuart, I did by myself. There was a lot of smoke from burning fires so good photos were hard to come by. :roll:

There’s a lot of information readily available on Stuart. This is my summary of the Cascadian Couloir which can really be thought of at this time of year as a descent route for the more interesting routes on Stuart. Nonetheless, I found the route varied and interesting enough with decent views.

Although almost entirely dry now, there is an upper snowfield on the route that could require axe and crampons. This snowfield is visible on the drive in (see photo) but is too far away to know if it can be bypassed. And, unfortunately, the snowfield is not visible during the hike in, namely from Longs Pass or in the couloir itself. Thus I carried axe and crampons all the way to the summit and, as it turned out, they were not needed as I could skirt the snow to climber’s left on the way up. (Although I met many people backpacking and doing other routes the day before, no one could tell me for sure if I needed the extra gear.)
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To find the TH simply type Esmerelda TH into Google Maps and you’re all set. :thumbup: The final 1.25 miles of road was closed and, apparently, was set to re-open soon (see my last photo). For those of us going in now we had an extra 2.5 miles and 300 feet or so of character building to be content with.

If you can drive the entire road, you enter a fee area (pass purchased elsewhere). My inter-agency pass works here, just like at Mt Adams. Also, a car is fine on the dirt road up to and through most of the closure, but there is a final repaired wash that may prove problematic, about .5 miles before the TH.
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Once on the trail proper, about .25 miles in is the first right-hander to take, clearly unmarked (see photo). Otherwise the trail is easy to follow and clearly marked. It’s a surprising but solid 3 miles to Longs Pass from the TH. From the pass you get a good view to find the Cascadian Couloir, which I’ve marked on an attached photo.
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From Longs Pass, drop down on the good trail eventually hopping across Ingalls Creek or crossing it on logs, past the campsites, then turn SE at the trail junction for the short walk to the Cascadian turnoff (see topo). The couloir trail was easy to find: it’s just beyond the remains of a footbridge that crosses a small creek and it’s a good trail that heads NE. It was also marked by a small cairn when I was there.
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The trail climbs steeply through thick grass and bushes until it dumps you into the couloir proper. You just keep going up, following the many cairns. There’s a noticeable fork in the gully that I’ve marked in my topo - stay right. None of this is really hard to follow or figure out, but I’m just giving some details in case they’re needed.
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At the top of the couloir you get great views of the amazing summit of Sherpa Peak. Climber’s left is the final snowfield.

As I already said I bypassed the snowfield to climber’s left, carefully climbing steeply through dirt and loose blocks for about 200 feet. Once you turn the corner you can see the blocky path to the true summit. Follow the many cairns with lots of options until near the summit ridge. Here is a solid 4th class crux, about 10 feet of climbing with excellent holds that pops you onto the summit ridge and the final easy and short scramble to the summit.
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The only other thing to note is on the descent. There’s a very good chance of descending too far in two places: first at the corner below the false summit, and second at the bottom of the couloir to regain the steep trail through the grass and bushes. I know because this is what I did. However, in both cases, even though you are still following footprints down, all of a sudden there are no more cairns. So, keep an eye on those cairns - and a GPS will help enormously when in doubt.
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Brian Kalet
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Re: Climbing block #3 - Mount Stuart, WA

Post by Brian Kalet » Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:30 pm


Thanks for the report!

Beauvais Jeanmard
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Re: Climbing block #3 - Mount Stuart, WA

Post by Beauvais Jeanmard » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:05 am


Beautiful Peak

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JBE
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Re: Climbing block #3 - Mount Stuart, WA

Post by JBE » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:00 am


Amazing hike. Congrats.
out of curiosity, what was in the register? is it cannabis in the plastic bag? is it a mini-bar whiskey bottle?

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Gary Neben
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Re: Climbing block #3 - Mount Stuart, WA

Post by Gary Neben » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:08 pm


JBE wrote:
Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:00 am
out of curiosity, what was in the register? is it cannabis in the plastic bag? is it a mini-bar whiskey bottle?
Yes and yes! (At least I think so, didn't really partake of it. :D )

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