The North Ridge of Mt Stuart, in Washington’s Cascades, is one of the all time classic alpine rock routes in the country. With over 3000′ of high quality granite arching up the most prominent peak in the area, the route is deservedly popular. I love alpine romps, and have been light on my feet lately, so I decided to attempt the speed record.
On August 19 of 2015, Colin Haley and Andy Wyatt ran the route car-to-car in 6 hours and 45 minutes. This time had impressed me for years, even more so because they carried a rope, light rack, and at least one helmet.
I decided to go ropeless, having climbed the route before and finding the two short sections of 5.9 to be very secure crack climbing. Of course this is a compromise in safety, but one with which I felt comfortable.
On July 1st, I did a walking recon of the route, hiking in from the Leavenworth side. I climbed the route and descended down the Sherpa Glacier on the east face. Despite having brought an ice ax and crampons, I still found the steep icy descent to be fairly slow*
Knowing that Colin and Andy had set their record approaching from the other side, via Ingalls lake trail, I decided to go for that route. This would allow me to descend the Cascadian Couloir on the mountain’s west side, which is mostly scree with only a short section of snow. I decided to forgo crampons and ax, feeling ok with my trekking pole self-arrest ability (not actually recommended).
The penalty for this easier descent, however, is an extra 2000′ of uphill on the way back to the trailhead, as one must run over Long Pass.
Anyway, I won’t give a narrative account, since everything went smoothly and is therefore a pretty boring story.
Here are my splits:
Lake Ingalls 9:53am (1h 6m)
Goat Pass 10:50am (2h 3m)
Base of route 11:16am (2h 29m)
Upper Gendarme 12:33pm (3h 46m)
Summit 12:50pm (4h 3m)
Trailhead 2:44pm (5h 57m)
And here’s what I brought:
SCARPA Spin RS Running shoes
silly trucker hat
Rab Pulse sun shirt with hood
Rab Windveil windbreaker
CAMP Full Protection shell pants
SCARPA Maestro Mid rock shoes
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra running vest/pack, 8.5L capacity
CAMP Sky Carbon trekking poles
Katadyn BeFree screw-on water filter, with 0.5L bladder
2 bars, a pack of clif shot blocks, a chocolate chip cookie and an apple
Gopro Session 5
Phone, bluetooth headphones
*I do think that someone could smash this speed record by approaching from the north side, since it’s more direct and doesn’t have the extra pass to run over on the way out. The trick though is gonna be getting the Sherpa glacier in the right conditions, nice soft snow with all the crevasses and ‘shrunds filled in. My friend Blake Herrington, Leavenworth super-local, thinks you might find these conditions during a sunny warm spell in June, and someone comfortable on snow could boot-ski down very quickly. I look forward to somebody proving him right!