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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  May 2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder
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Author Topic: May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder  (Read 2787 times)

Posts: 124

May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder
« on: 05/13/13, 10:56 PM »

As we were packing heavy backpacks Friday morning, getting ready to leave for our trip, our neighbor, practicing swings with a golf club asked us where we were going. We told him Mt Stuart and our neighbor asked if there was a lift. Well, not yet. (But you know what! Next time we go there, there better be one!)

Due to a temporary selective memory loss, revisiting Mount Stuart on skis seemed like a great idea last weekend. We remembered that Stuart was a big mountain, but somehow our memories of the painful descent, dehydration and exhaustion in the summer of 2011, when we climbed the W Ridge, got repressed. Good news! We got our memories refreshed!

The road was drivable almost to the TH and the trail proper required a short carry before we could put our skis on. At Longs Pass we got a view of our planned route, i.e. Cascadian Couloir and were just a little astonished how much snow had melted on the mountain.

Chris dropping from Longs Pass:

We skied down to the horse camp where we made camp. Early start in the morning – we were up and climbing towards the couloir by 3:45 am. The first 1000 feet were on dirt before we transitioned to snow (roughly 5600’). The clouds that morning made for an amazing performance and Mount Rainier put on an incredible light show.

Luckily we had the views to distract us because travel up the couloir was not the easiest, with dirt patches, progressively softening snow, and laborious step kicking. On top of the couloir, we were able to transition to skis (~7600’). It was a lot of up! Before the final slope to the false summit, we ditched our skis (~8500’) and booted up a steep slope, not wanting to traverse out onto the steep slope cutting a skin track into it. It was all a lot of work in the soft snow, but luckily we didn’t see anything move. We scrambled up the summit block only to discover that we were on the false-false summit and the true-false summit was a little walk over and offering even better views. Soon we were joined by a party of two who brought their skis to the false summit.

Chris on the true-false summit:

Things were getting really soft so we descended carefully back to our skis, easily plunge stepping.  Despite the mushy conditions, the snow skied quite well, to our great surprise. We appreciated the two guys on top who were considerate and gave us enough time to clear out of their way before they started skiing down the steep slope below the false summit because as soon as they ski cut the slope, they triggered pretty large wet sluffs that travelled for several hundred feet down and over rocks, like a waterfall. We watched all this from a safe spot as their every turn triggered another point release! Good sluff management on their part.

We chose the SE shoulder (variation no 1 in Beckey) for our descent as we felt it would offer more stable snow conditions than Cascadian Couloir, and also wanting to explore another route on the mountain since “Burgerdorfer” mentions it as a ski route.  It skied very well and we enjoyed a long descent back to the meadows.

We observed this route is skinnable from about 6600’ on up, 1000’ lower than Cascadian proper.  Below  6600’, it gets steeper, yet we still skied to about 5400’ before transitioning back to walking.  There were a couple of waterfalls that required a little bit of route finding to bypass, but nothing too crazy.  Then there was a short 10 minute walk back to camp along the Ingalls Creek trail, which is very nice forest.   “Next time” we will go up the SE shoulder and down the Cascadian... and maybe go slightly earlier in the season, when snow is continuous to the valley floor, but likely requiring a longer road approach.

We packed camp and started the grueling climb back up to Longs Pass.  On the way up we saw the tracks from the other 2 guys we met at the top coming down the Cascadian.  Few uphill climbs stand out as so strenuous but this hill was just plain hard and exhausting, with tree wells providing limited, steep uphill options, sections of discontinuous snow, or narrow snow fingers over drainages with thin bridges. Somehow we got back to the car and even made it to Cle Elum for pizzas before closing time – what a day. Before we got finally home, we had been up for 22 hours straight!

And then the memory loss again! A couple of days later, Stuart still feels like a great mountain to ski! Luckily, we had a surprising reminder this afternoon – coming back to the park and ride after work to see the skis still on the roof in an unlocked rack. Ha! It WAS a big trip after all…

More pictures and topo here:

FOUND: camera about 0.5 mile from the TH, in a stream of water. PM us the make\model and we’ll happily return it.
« Last Edit: 05/14/13, 08:24 AM by radka » Logged

Posts: 479

Re: May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder
« Reply #1 on: 05/16/13, 09:33 AM »

Super trip, guys.  Great pics w/ interesting lighting.  What's next?

Posts: 296

Re: May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder
« Reply #2 on: 05/16/13, 10:56 AM »

Nice pictures!  It must have been your headlamp we saw heading up Cascadian before 5am as we hit Long's Pass. We went to give Ulrich's a try but got discouraged by how completely beat up it was, heavily runneled and lots of debris.  We turned around ~8400ft since it seemed most of what we'd climbed above 7K was more slide slipping than skiing and it didn't look to be improving above us.

Stuart from Long's Pass @5am. Red dots are the line we improvised since the continuous ski (green line) was now melted out, with an easy portage and ~100ft down ski to get back into Ulrich's proper.

Open water avoidance on the climb up

Steep runnels, not what we came for

A few good turns while avoiding the open water running down

It actually skied a little better than expected due to the soft snow, but the best turns were after the short climb/portage back down to the valley floor. We exited over Ingall's Pass and were able to keep the skis on the feet for an easy climb and less angst while crossing the raging Ingall's creek.  

Nice to be able to drive road all the way, but for sure about a week too late for the line.   

not always bad

Posts: 322

Re: May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder
« Reply #3 on: 05/16/13, 02:43 PM »

Nice pictures!  It must have been your headlamp we saw heading up Cascadian before 5am as we hit Long's Pass.
Cool, we were wondering who those headlamps were, since the 2 we ran into at the false summit said it wasn't them.

Glad you had a fun trip as well.

Posts: 50

Re: May 10-11, Mt Stuart, Cascadian/SE Shoulder
« Reply #4 on: 05/19/13, 11:32 AM »

Great Report Radka! awesome work. Pictures are REALLY good... you will soon forget the pain, but you will have the memories..and the pix!
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