2011/9/10 – Mount Stuart / 史都華山

Kodak moment on Mount Stuart

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Mount Stuart, the pillar of The Enchantments and the Teanaway as I call it, has not been at the top of my list of peaks to climb this year. I have looked at the mountain from all directions of Teanaway and have always assumed that it’s a technical climb until I read a couple recent reports. My jaw dropped when I saw “class 3” and thought I had read it wrong. Upon further research I realized that all this time I was under false assumption and I couldn’t believe I had waited this long.

Piotr agreed to climb Stuart with me, which was a shocker, as Piotr is only into much taller peaks such as the WA volcanoes. We got to the trailhead just before 9 AM on a sunny, beautiful Saturday. It didn’t take us long to get to Long’s pass, followed by a half-hour descend into Ingalls Creek camp area. We quickly found the climbers’ path into the Cascadian Couloir and decided left our climbing gear behind since we got a late start and wouldn’t have time to bag Serpa Peak in the same day.

The couloir was just as the trip reports have described, full of boulders, talus, and scree. We periodically turned around to check out the beauty of Teanaway. Boulders turned into talus, talus turned into scree, and before we knew it we were standing below the snowfield beneath the false summit. Interestingly, this was the area where we passed a handful of climbers who got an earlier and were on their way down. Once we got past the false summit, it was just a matter of negotiating refrigerator-sized boulders to the true summit.

Wow, just wow, the views at the top were beyond my imagination. Aside from the beauty of Teanaway, here we were greeted with the interior views of The Enchantments, which I have yet to explore hopefully before the summer ends. We stayed just long enough to eat, rest, and take pictures before heading back down.

On our descend, we ran into a couple of climbers whom we had passed earlier on our way up. One of the them had accidentally fallen down the snowfield beneath the false summit and hit the boulders at the bottom. Luckily, the man had a helmet on and he had no external bleeding but was unable to walk, most likely due to fractured bones. We got contact info from the man’s climbing partner and offered them food and clothes enough to tie them over until help arrived. There was no cell reception that high up, so Piotr and I descended another 1,300 before he was able to obtain spotty coverage to reach 911.

We waited in the couloir until Piotr got a confirmation from the Chelan County sheriff that a helicopter had been dispatched to airlift the injured man. Afterward we continued to descend to Ingall’s Creek camp area and that’s when the helicopter arrived on the scene. Fortunately, the two men stayed at the same spot where we left them, so that they were able to be spotted with the coordinates given.

Amid all this chaos we picked up another climber on the descend who was climbing alone. We advised him that it wouldn’t be safe for him to hike back to the trailhead by himself after dark and that he should come with us. Long story short, we got back to the trailhead around 1 AM, with four hours of rescue mission in between. A long day indeed!

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