American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington—Cascades, Mount Stuart, East Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Mount Stuart, East Face. Even more jagged, glaciated and spectacular than the famous north face of Mount Stuart is the cirque of the Ice Cliff Glacier and its headwalls on the east and northeast face of the peak. The entire glacier has been climbed to the summit ridge well east of Stuart’s top. Last summer a route was established from the upper basin of the glacier by the northeast face to the north ridge at a point just below the great gendarme. (A.A.J., 1960, 12:1, pp. 116-7.) We felt that a more direct and entirely new route still existed on this headwall and after studying photographs, we saw a thread of ledges that wound upwards in a rightward spiral to mid-face just left of the great central slab of overhangs and unstably perched snow-patches. From here it appeared that we could either continue rightward and meet the existing route past the gendarme or climb directly up the east headwall to the summit crest a few hundred feet from the top. The latter was the way the route was completed. On the weekend of August 14, Ron Niccoli and I made a camp on the upper stream of Ingalls Creek Basin and spent a day making a reconnaissance of the Ice Cliff Glacier and the east headwall. We climbed three leads up the granite, using pitons for safety in about ten places, and then left our ropes in place as time ran out. We reached camp late, and cold, snowy weather kept us off the mountain until the next weekend. In order to traverse the mountain, we traveled light and abandoned ice equipment at the foot of the rock. The spiraling ledge system took us to mid-face adjacent to the great slabs, but not without difficulty. At this point we climbed directly upward on steep but well jointed rocks. Many of the pitches were strenuous jam-cracks, laybacks and pull-up problems. On the steepest ones we pulled up our rucksacks. We estimated that the climb had about 1500 feet of roped climbing, with virtually every pitch requiring piton protection. Both of us led some sections with difficult moves and severe cracks, but no direct aid was needed. We reached the summit at 3:30 P.M., eleven hours from the valley.

Fred Beckey

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