American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington-Cascades, Mount Stuart, Northeast Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

Mount Stuart, Northeast Face. After an overnight stay at Ingalls Lake, two and one-half miles from the North Fork of the Teanaway River road, in August Don Anderson, Dick Hebble, Dave Mahre, and Gene Prater made a rapid trip across Stuart Pass, Goat Pass, descended to and traversed below the Stuart Glacier, and at 6:30 a.m. strapped on crampons beside the Ice Cliff Glacier. Crossing to the east of the glacier, with two ice pitons for safety below the ice cliff, we climbed on rock past the 100-foot ice cliff that goes from wall to wall in the glacier’s trough. Here we chose a route up the edge of the wall above. We made good progress until the short faces with apparently good cracks for handholds between the sloping ledges turned out to be smooth, vertical walls, needing pitons for direct-aid climbing. At this point Mahre and I took what we hoped to be a route to a snowledge in mid-face, and Anderson and Hebble stayed on the right edge. Both routes required tension climbing. The others had one tension pitch, using two bolts with several pitons. The fractures in the rock are so recent that weathering has yet to provide good friction and handholds, especially toward the center of the face. Since they had found access to the slabs above this first 1000-foot section, we made a long traverse to their route past the only tree on this face. Easier rock, not requiring anchored belays, made it possible for us all to attain a quick 500 feet, until we reached another vertical section, probably the crux of the climb. Mahre led the first half, a 40-foot class 5 lead requiring extremely delicate balance climbing. Prater led the easier overhanging chimney above, after which the second rope was belayed up as darkness fell. A generous sandy ledge was soon located in the dark. With an anchor, we four made a sitting bivouac, drowsing off to the echoes of toppling séracs crashing down the 1000 feet to the Ice Cliff Glacier. At sunup we decided to follow the north arête route, done in 1956 by Claunch and Rupley (A.A.J., 1957, 10:2, pp. 144-145), rather than the more difficult Mahre and Prater variation of 1958, which finishes on the northeast face after traversing out on the upper face from the north arête. Easy slabs lead 500 feet up the crest of the north arête below the North Buttress. In three hours from the bivouac all four were on top. Descent was via Ulrich’s Couloir on the south side.

Gene Prater, Yakima Cascadians

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