The next morning we started at 5am with our headlamps on and a star filled sky above us. The first part through some brush and boulders was easy, but things got tougher once we were on the couloir. The Cascadian Couloir consisted of loose dirt, rocks and boulders amongst a relentlessly steep slope. For a few thousand feet we climbed up the coulior and then past a boulder field to a point where we could see the false summit. The route to the false summit got even steeper with loose rocks. This ended up being the most difficult part of the climb, going both up and down. Normally there is a steep snow field to assend here, but we were able to avoid it as it was late in the season. At around 100 feet below the false summit we cut across to the ridge of the true summit. The route to the summit looked a bit hairy, but it wasn't that bad thanks to helpful cairns leading the way. The trick was go down a bit first, traverse across a ways and then pull a few class 3 moves on some solid rock to get to the top.
Another group got to the summit before us so it was a bit crowded on top. The views were ok, but forest fires in the area had limited the visibility. We could see the Enchantments, Ingalls Peak/Lake and Long's Pass amongst other mountains. We had successfully summited the peak, but the hike was far from over.
After carefully making it down the loose rock below the false summit things got easier on the way down. We did get off route briefly and had to navigate through a maze of huge boulders. Once out of the rocks we made it down couloir and back to camp. I took a brief rest in the tent and we were then back on the trail to Long's Pass and the zipper line of switchbacks to get to up it. Heading down from the pass to the car was the most pleasant part of the hike though it seemed to take forever to get to the trailhead. The sun had set behind the mountains when we reached the car, but there was still plenty of daylight.
We found the scramble up Mount Stuart to be a challenging and satisfying accomplishment. Perhaps we'll try to do it again, but one day. All we'll need to do is carry lighter packs and be in better shape.
Switchbacks to Ingalls Creek
Early Start Up the Cascadian Couloir
Nearing the False Summit
Break Before the False Summit
Balanced Rock on Sherpa Peak
First View of True Summit
Looking Back to the False Summit
Mount Stuart Summit
Summit Zsu Zsu Pet
Ingalls Peak and Lake
September 15-16, 2012