Mount Stuart, Elevation 9,415ft
Cascadian Couloir, May 19, 2001
Ben, Troy, Jason, Josh
Mount Stuart from Longs Pass. Our ski descent began from the false summit. Most of it can be seen in green. The summit traverse is in red. This photo was taken inSpring 00 after Charlie and I skied the same route with a little more snow.
It's June 7, 2001 and I'm trying to kill time before my final presentation. I should be out looking for a job but instead I'm pondering my most recent ski trips. I just got the photos back so my memory is refreshed. Time to write a few stories.
I had skied Stuart two times prior to this trip. Once down Variation #1 by myself in Summer 99 and once down Cascadian with Charlie in Spring 00. Both times as a day trip from the trailhead. I regretted not skiing Ulrichs in Spring 00 but I promised myself that I'd return to do it in Spring 01. Troy and I drove there in early May with the Hummels but the road was snowed at least 4 miles from the trailhead so we ended up kayaking the Teanaway from Beverly Campground. That was quite an adventure.
We returned two weeks later knowing that the road was open. The weather looked decent so we decided to give it a shot that Saturday. The Hummels and I met Troy at 29 Pines Friday night. We woke up the next morning around 5am and drove the rest of the way to the trailhead. The weather was mostly cloudy but there was no precipitation so we were hopeful to summit. We left the trailhead around 6:30am. We ran into snow near the first cutoff but continued in tennis shoes all the way to Longs Pass. I screwed up and followed some tracks the led up a ridge much higher than we needed to be. We got hammered by wind on the ridge and ended up wasting about 30 minutes traversing back to the pass. Troy was ready to turn around at this point due to wind and what looked like poor visibility on the summit. Jason was ready to join him but I convinced them to keep going. It was a northwest wind so I figured it would die down in the couloir so that we'd at least make it to the false summit. We put on our skis and made our way down the wasteful drop from Longs Pass to Ingalls Creek.
Josh dropping in off Longs Pass.
The snow was firm but consistent and we were able to ski nearly all the way to the creek. It softened up in the trees as the wind died down. We kept our boots on, hiked a little ways down the valley, found the trail up Cascadian and began the long trudge upward. There was nearly 1000 vertical feet of dirt and rock before we finally reached the snow. I was easy going once we reached the snow. We took turns breaking trail except for Jason who lagged behind while trying to film.
Troy where the dirt meets the snow.
It wasn't long before we ran into fresh snow. All of the sudden there was 6-12" of mush that slowed us down a bit but allowed for a good staircase. Some sections of the couloir were blown off but we spent most of the time in the drifts. The wind was noticeable but it didn't bother us much. All we heard was the howl coming off the ridge to our west and the clouds screaming by above us.
We tried to follow the snow so that we would know a good route to ski down. It ended up leading us to the west side of the couloir onto some steeper more exposed faces.
Troy knee deep in the drift.
Josh on one of the steeper sections higher up. Longs Pass can be seen above the tips of his skis.
We found a good resting spot about half way up where the couloir opens up and flattens out before traversing to the steep face below the false summit. By now I knew we would make it to the false summit. Making it to the summit would be up to the wind.
Resting at the top of the couloir.
Visibility going down.
The visibility was poor once we reached the final slope below the false summit. The wind wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and we continued on. I traversed to the right side of the slope and made a staircase up the foot or two of fresh windpack. It wasn't long before I reached the false summit. I waited there for about 10 minutes as Troy made his way up. Another 10 for Josh and another 10 for Jason. By now I was ready to get moving. I caught a couple glimpses of the summit and the wind wasn't too bad on the south side of the ridge so I decided to go for it. Josh joined me but Jason was a little too late. He ended up waiting with Troy who didn't care to summit.
We traversed on the south side of the ridge, mostly on snow. There were a few sections of 4th class rock but nothing too intimidating, even with the wind. We made it to the summit around 1:30pm, 7 hours from the car. I tried digging for the register but it was buried beneath the ice and I wasn't about to spend an hour chipping at it with an ice axe. We took a photo and left.
Josh on the south side of the ridge.
Josh on the summit.
Josh on his way down.