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Mountain Madness Climber

Leavenworth rock and Cascade Classic — West Ridge of Mount Stuart!

Chris and I spent the last 5 days climb­ing togeth­er, with our main objec­tive being the West Ridge of Mount Stu­art. After doing sev­er­al glac­i­er and snow climbs with Moun­tain Mad­ness, Chris was inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the world of mul­ti-pitch and alpine rock climb­ing. So we began our jour­ney in Ici­cle Creek Canyon out­side of Leav­en­worth. Here we bat­tled some rainy weath­er, but cov­ered a lot of mate­r­i­al and man­aged to get in a cou­ple of mul­ti-pitch routes. After a cou­ple days in Leav­en­worth we were ready to take on a pri­ma­ry alpine rock objec­tive. After check­ing the weath­er, and debat­ing for a while we decid­ed the Enchant­ments were the place to go. Mt. Stu­art is the high point of the Enchant­ments, and offers excel­lent gran­ite in a beau­ti­ful remote location. 

We got our first view of the west ridge of Mt. Stu­art after a cou­ple hours of hik­ing from the end of the Tean­away riv­er road.

Mount Stu­art. Chris Chicoskie photo

Around 4:30pm we arrived in camp and start­ed to scope out our line from Stu­art Pass. 

Alan point­ing out the West Ridge of Mt. Stu­art. Chris Chicoskie photo

The next morn­ing 3 am seemed to come very ear­ly. We brewed up and left camp at 4 am. We found head­lamps unnec­es­sary by 4:30 and start­ed cruis­ing up the entry couloir to the west.

Chris Chicoskie photo

We were mak­ing great time up the route and found the snow was just soft enough that cram­pons were not need­ed, mak­ing our tran­si­tions from rock to snow that much eas­i­er. Before we knew it, we were approach­ing Long John Tow­er, and gain­ing the upper por­tion of the route where the bulk of the tech­ni­cal climb­ing resides.

Chris Chicoskie photo

After a cou­ple more hours of trav­el­ing through tech­ni­cal rock ter­rain along the ridge crest we approached the Sum­mit Pyramid. 

Chris Chicoskie video

While the climb­ing dif­fi­cul­ty on the upper ridge is gen­er­al­ly fair­ly mod­er­ate we found sec­tions of the route cov­ered in snow and thin ice. The route con­di­tions com­bined with the expo­sure of top­ping out a 2,000 ft ridge made our last cou­ple hours on route quite engaging. 

Per­se­ver­ance paid off and, 8 and a half hours after leav­ing camp, Chris and I com­plet­ed our objec­tive the West Ridge of Mount Stuart. 

On the sum­mit! Chris Chicoskie photo

Now we had to descend the East Ridge to the Cas­ca­di­an Couloir and take the Ingalls creek trail back up to camp. When we arrived back in camp we cooked up some vic­to­ry bur­ri­tos and enjoyed a splash of Whiskey. 

Gourmet bur­ri­tos! Chris Chicoskie photo

We also had a herd of din­ner guests that came to see what salty things they could try and get from us.

Chris Chicoskie photo

We had a great week of climb­ing and instruc­tion between Leav­en­worth and the Enchant­ments. Chris and I have been chat­ting about future adven­tures and I look for­ward to shar­ing an out­ing with him again soon. Thanks for a great week Chris!

~ MM Guide Alan Rousseau