The Direct North Ridge w/ Gendarme 5.9+ 20 Pitches, ~3000′ Grade IV, Mt Stuart, Leavenworth WA

Ice Cliff glacier as seen on our approach to the North Ridge of Mt Stuart

Finally!!  I’ve only been planning on climbing Mt. Stuarts North Ridge for more than 10 years!  How it came together was slightly goofy – I shot my friend John the following text on Monday morning, “Hey, I think I have a 1-day climbing pass.  Friday FNR of Stuart?”…..  And from there a flurry of texts ensued!  Well, later that Monday out of the blue I went to stand up from a seated position on the floor and my lower back allowed me to only made it half way before abruptly having to take a knee this caused me to reflect on my climbing plans.  Plan A was to climb with John, but now that my back felt like it could lock up at any wrong move, and with John climbing like a finely tuned machine, plan B popped up. My plan B was climbing the Full North Ridge of Mt Stuart (the Upper North Ridge is often climbed via accessing a notch about 2/3 up the ridge).  Sounds smart. Right!?  If your back may give out at any moment go big or stay home!  I contacted Spencer, he has been my main climbing partner for years. After climbing Serpentine Ridge on Dragontail Peak in a ~16 hour car-to-car push back in ’09 we’ve been talking about climbing the North Ridge of Stuart ever since – additionally I knew Spencer was a machine, but thanks to his semi-recent employment as an engineer his machine wasn’t as finely tuned as John’s, hence if my gearbox locked up mid climb….oh well.  So naturally I sent John a text saying find another partner my back is hurting and I contacted Spencer saying my back hurts wanna climb FNR of Stuart?  Of course Spencer was quick to say yes, probably thinking I’d bail based on my history of high bailure rate.  Before this tale goes to pictures I must say that, to Spencers surprise, I had an entire cloud storage folder of pictures, topos and text screen shots that I shared with him so we could have them offline on-route.  And with this I must mention one of, if not, my favorite website trip report composer – Steph Abegg

Looking back on our Mountaineers Creek approach which began with a 2:45 a.m. start at Stuart Lake trailhead.

Spencer paying attention to foot placement as we ascend the moraine nearing the base of Mt Stuarts North Ridge

The base of Mt. Stuarts North Ridge. Climbing the North Ridge from here has various descriptors such as Full, Direct, Complete and I’m sure there’s more basically people that climb it want to communicate that they are climbing ~3000′ vs climbing the Upper North Ridge which consisted of ~1200′

Since it was our first time on the Mountaineers Crk. approach and the NR for the matter we were psyched to be geared up and climbing within 5 hrs of leaving the car! Spencer on pitch 1 (p1) of North Ridge Direct Mt Stuart.

Spencer leading p2 of North Ridge Direct Mt Stuart

Spencer leading one of the many simul-blocks on the North Ridge of Mt Stuart

Spencer Cowboy-ing the North Ridge of Mt Stuart

Same zoomed out pic of Spencer the North Ridge Cowboy

Looking up at one of my simul-blocks of North Ridge Mt Stuart with a view of the Gendarme in the distance.  (Has anyone been out on that diving board! That would be amazing!!! oh well, next time)

Spencer on the North Ridge of Mt Stuart with the ridge dividing Stuart lake valley from Mountaineers valley far below Spencers right side or left side of pic.

Spencer taking in the absolutely amazing views while standing in one of the many bivy sights on the North Ridge of Mt Stuart. We were so glad to climb it sans bivy gear / weight!

Spencer on p1 of the Gendarme on Mt Stuart North Ridge. It seemed like it took forever to arrive at the gendarme!

View from the top of Gendarme p1 this is an awesome tabletop ledge with exposure all around!

Somewhere on the upper North Ridge of Mt Stuart with Stuart glacier below.

Happy Spencer on the summit of Mt Stuart North Ridge. It took us about 6 1/2 hrs from base to summit on the Complete North Ridge which we were very pleased with!

Me as I’m heading back to our packs to start the long and arduous descent of Mt Stuart. We were fortunate to catch up with 2 other teams near the entrance of the Cascadian Couloir especially since we had planned on descending off the north side and with our last second change of plans we would need a ride back to Leavenworth and then on to Stuart / Colchuck trailhead to my truck.

Looking back at the peak of Mt Stuart as we began descending the south side.

Looking down the seemingly endless Cascadian Couloir the little heart shaped snow patch in the top right corner of the pic is Longs Pass where we are headed then once there onto the Esmeralda Trailhead.

Still aiming for the heart-shaped snow patch near Longs Pass

The angels that gave 2 stinky climbers a ride all the way back to Leavenworth. Forever grateful!!!  With Mt. Stuart in the distance.  We climbed the Full North Ridge of Mt Stuart car-to-car in ~17hrs Wow!  Sometimes we even surprise ourselves!!! (even though the car we arrived at was not our own 🙂