Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mt. Stuart, Upper North Ridge

The forecast for Memorial Day was wishy-washy, with both the west slopes and the east slopes looking iffy. Dan Aylward and I decided to go try the Upper North Ridge on Stuart, and figured we could just climb the West Ridge if the weather was truly nasty. The Teanaway River Road is not totally snow-free yet, so we left the car about 6:30am, still 2.5 miles from the trailhead. I would estimate that the road will be drivable to the trailhead by next weekend.

The approach was characterized by lots of work kicking steps in the slush. Almost to the climbing, Dan traversing across the Stuart Glacier:

Dan on the partially snow-covered slab pitch:

Dan nearing the Great Gendarme:

Colin on the first pitch of the Great Gendarme, which was still a bit wet and icy. Photo by Dan Aylward:

Dan following the first pitch of the Great Gendarme:

Colin at one of the Cascade's best belay ledges. Photo by Dan Aylward:

Dan climbing above the Great Gendarme:

On the summit at about 6pm. The torrential rain, hail, and lightning didn't start until we returned to the car, at 9:30:

Dan dropped me off at the Park and Ride at midnight. In the dark, and in my tired state, I didn't notice the artwork someone left on my car until the next morning. This pastoral scene, depicting a climber's passion, is typical of the style pioneered by Bellingham ice climber, Crazy Polish Bob.