Mike, my partner on this trip, wrote a really good account of our day.
North Ridge of Stuart
We woke up at 4:30 from our campsite a couple miles down the road from the Ingalls Pass trailhead. Our packs were finished off last night for a quick morning start. After a bagel/cream cheese, a couple bananas and a Starbucks Doubleshot, we got in the truck and headed for the trailhead. We were both glad to see a toilet at the trailhead so we wouldn't have to leave a surprise somewhere on the ridge.
Time frame as follows.
05:20 = Trailhead.
I started at a quick pace in the excitement of doing the NR of Stuart. My
mountain wise partner slowed me to a pace that would keep us going the whole
06:35 = Ingalls Pass.
The wind was blowing hard when we hit the pass and we both feared that the ridge would be worse. Fortunately, we could barely hear each other, so the fears were quickly pushed aside. The morning sunrise was incredible to watch during our approach. There were just a few clouds in the sky that captured the morning glows of the sunrise.
06:50 = Ingalls Lake.
We stayed at the lake for about 20 minutes while we sucked down as much water and then refilled our bladders with a couple iodine tablets. This would be our last water opportunity and wanted to make the most of it. We took in the views of Stuart behind us and North Ingalls in front of us while drinking water were pleasant. Seeing the sun start to move down the slopes on Ingalls prompted us to continue to enjoy the shade of Mt. Stuart.
8:50 = Goats Pass.
We made in complete shade and savored this fact. The approach wasn't as bad as some stories I have heard, but doing it the shade probably helped my opinion. We stopped to refuel on GU and Bars. We did the approach in running shoes and brought some alu-crampons for the glacier crossing. We also brought plastic grocery bags to put on over our shoes to keep them dry while crossing the glacier to approach the gully and they worked.
We dropped down the moraine to get on the flatter sections of the Stuart glacier. We dropped down to avoid the steep traverse in our running shoe/crampon combo. While sliding down this mass of hardened dirt and rock, I popped a goobber on my hand and Ade, well, we'll just say that sliding on this stuff is not advised. We were both OK from it once we got on the glacier. After some crampon resizing and final adjustments we made our ascent/traverse to get back up to "normal" boot path.
We decided to not rope up in the interest of saving time and the fact that all the crevasses were very evident. The sun had softened up the lower section of the glacier enough to help with traction while we avoided the blue ice sections. The second half of the glacier was much harder as we finished the snow section with deliberate front pointing and solid ice axe placements.
The gully to the mid-ridge was really 4th class. I asked Ade to hold on any stories that he had heard about this gully until we reached to top of it.
11:00 = Mid North Ridge platform.
If anyone is wondering what the bivi sites are like at the midpoint of the ridge, no need to worry. Excusing the lack of water, they are very plush and numerous. We sparingly drank some water and downed some more GU and another bar as we pulled out our rock gear. The minor rest prepared for the hours of climbing to the summit. With lightened packs and full tummies, Ade took the lead for the Ridge. I admired the drop off views and beautiful skyline while waiting for Ade to pull the rope taught. We brought one 8 mm 50 meter rope that we doubled up. Ade tied into the two ends and I clipped into a figure 8 knot.
We started our simlu-climbing of the ridge and before I knew we had knocked off most of the 5th class pitches. Only stopping to regroup gear. We reach the Gendarme after 2 1/2 hours after starting the ridge. The first pitch of the 5.9 was awesome crack climbing. The 2nd pitch of 5.9 off width was much more challenging for both Ade and myself. I took a short fall but then found my way up it. I caught my breath at the top and resorted gear to finish the rest of the ridge.
16:30 = Top of Mount Stuart.
We reached the top after finishing the rest of the mid 5th class climbing. The views were incredible. We could see Adams to Baker. Ade pointed out Liberty Ridge was definitely not in prime condition right not as we could see the whole route. I signed the summit registry and tucked the heavy lead box back under the rocks. It was roughly 5:00 and we were dreaming of making Small Fries in Fall City for a big bag of greasy fries and thick shakes. The Cascadian Couloir had other thoughts.
17:00 = Left the top.
Before setting off for the Cascadian, I drained my water bladder and so did Ade. I had one more liter of water in my pack and Ade had about 1/2 a liter to get us down to the Cascadian. We found ourselves having traversed too low and had to do some two scary raps off old slings wrapped around flakes. Obviously others had made the same mistake we had so off we went. The Cascadian taxed our tired legs and knees along with the bugs and dust to fill our lungs.
What seemed like hours later we reached the valley and a welcomed flat trail revived our legs.
We came across a small party and asked if they had a water filter that we could borrow. We had some more iodine tablets but the idea of instant clean water to clean the final bits of the Cascadian out sounded refreshing. While pumping water, we inquired what route did they have planned for the next day. Cascadian, they proudly announced, after having made the journey from Portland. Due to their generosity, neither Ade nor myself had the heart to question their route choice. I hope they enjoyed it more then we did on the way down. Either way the water was great.
Watered up, we continued on up the valley and blindly made the correct left turn towards Longs Pass. The climb for Longs pass then started after crossing the creek. I was pretty tired going up. Ran into another couple that were planning on NR of Stuart and gave some glacier beta to them. Continuing on, we finally saw some wild life. A deer that was frozen from our Petzl Tikka's. I didn't realize Tikkas were that bright.
Finally, the Longs pass is made. We stop and have some of the last food. I at this point was not feeling too good. I was ready to go down after sitting for 5 minutes.
20:20 = Car. Ade and I grab the chips and more Doubleshots for the ride home. In hindsight, we may not have needed any more caffeine. We were pretty stoked from what we had just accomplished.