Snow, Ice, and Rock on One of the Tallest Peaks in the North Cascades
In early June, two colleagues of mine from
Northwest Outward Bound School, Trever Waage and Joel Reid, and I set off to climb the Stuart Glacier Couloir, a classic steep snow/ice and rock route on the north side of Mount Stuart, one of the tallest non-volcanic peaks in the Cascades.
We made our camp at the base of the Sherpa and Ice Cliff glaciers close to where our descent route would return us to at the end of the route. For the alpine start we were planning for summit day we turned in early.
We crossed the Stuart Glacier in the dark, having left camp around 2 AM. Here Joel Reid navigates a crevasse on the glacier by headlamp.
We crossed the burgshrund on the top of the glacier at first light and ascended the lower section of the couloir, about 40-50 firm snow, which runs up the northwest face of the peak. At the narrowest section of the couloir are two steps of steeper terrain. Here Joel Reid leads out to climb a pitch of mixed rock, ice, and snow with a belay from Trever Waage. Trevor lead the next step of ice.
Joel and Trevor approach the top of the couloir on Mount Stuart’s west ridge.
The route to the summit finishes on the West ridge; beautiful granite and stunning exposure.
Trevor reaching for a good hand hold, high on the west ridge. The Stuart Glacier Couloir drops away below him.
Joel Reid tops out on the summit of Mount Stuart.
After a careful descent to the east and then down the Sherpa Glacier we made it back to our camp, greated by a family of mountain goats.