Sherpa Peak by Mount Stuart / 靠史都華山的夏爾巴峯

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A satellite of Mount Stuart, Sherpa Peak ranks the fourth tallest on the Stuart Range. What defines this high point is the famous structure–balanced rock. The late snowfall this year allowed me to tackle my final peak on the range.

Sherpa Peak and the Balanced Rock from camp
Sherpa Peak and the Balanced Rock from camp

See more trip photos here.

Sherpa Peak at a Glance

Access: Lake Ingalls Trailhead
Round Trip: 14 miles
Elevation Range: 4280′-8605′
Gear: helmet, rope, rock
GPS Track: available

Sherpa Peak

Even with a scenic approach and climb, I dreaded the exit. Like Mount Stuart, it involved climbing back up to Longs Pass. But not before dropping down to Ingalls Creek from the mountaintop.

For months, I’ve looked for a partner but to no avail. So, in the end, I went solo via the east ridge. But my only concern was the “obvious” gully mentioned in reports.

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En Route to Ingalls Creek

The lousy weather slowly developed the minute I arrived at Longs Pass. Sherpa Peak, as well as Mount Stuart, was only visible for a few minutes. Then they both vanished into the clouds.

Later I quickly made my way down to Ingalls Creek. Soon, I was hiking east on Ingalls Creek Trail for a bit. Then at the first clearing, I left the trail and went up the south slopes.

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Sherpa Peak South Route

I spent the next few hours going up the long-running buttress. Then I eventually went up to the west of Sherpa’s south basin. Later I found a decent spot at 6800′ and settled in for the evening.

More clouds slowly moved into the area. But there were still no signs of Sherpa Peak. So I kept my fingers crossed for the next day’s excellent forecast to be real.

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Sherpa Peak Climb

The following day, I awoke to clear skies in Teanaway. But I wasn’t sure what it looked like north of Stuart Range. It was joyous to see that the clouds over Sherpa Peak had slowly faded before 8 AM.

I was very anxious to get going after seeing the Balanced Rock. Sherpa Peak’s crown jewel finally revealed itself. This unique feature sets Sherpa Peak apart from the rest of the Stuart Range peaks.

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Sherpa Peak East Ridge

It was a relief to see rappel slings and webbing while I went up the east ridge. So I knew I was on the right track. Cairns would guide me up in the general direction. I’d sometimes look down at the steep ridgeline.

I took photos as I moved up the ridge. But it would be the last time I saw anything to the east before clouds devoured the range. It’s so fascinating to think that one-tenth of the Washington State highest peaks are here.

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Balanced Rock

Later I went around the rock from the north. Meanwhile, I relished the breathtaking sight of Sherpa Peak with Mount Stuart behind it. Soon, I made the sketchy traverse over new snow and wet rocks.

Soon, I was near the summit. Then I turned around and looked at the Balanced Rock one more time. That feature was much more impressive in person. Even the platform was over twice my height.

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Sherpa Peak Summit

South of the range was bright and sunny. In contrast, it’s bleak on the north side. Other than the constant south wind, I could only hear my heavy breathing. I immensely enjoyed the solitude and the gorgeous views of Teanaway.

Mount Stuart was even more imposing seeing it here. It’s my last Bulger List peak before ending the season. So I stayed a long time to savor the views. Two rappels down the west ridge and some down climbing put me in the south gully.

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Back to Longs Pass

Going through the massive talus field above camp took a while. In the meantime, I thought I heard people’s voices up by Mount Stuart. Other than a power nap, I didn’t spend much time back at camp.

Later I caught up to a couple on the other side of Ingalls Creek. They had just come from skiing the south face of Mount Stuart. It turned out to be their voices I had heard earlier. I needed the motivation to go back up to Longs Pass. So I joined them on the hike out.

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Outro

As it turned out, we had at least one mutual friend. She was the one who just became the youngest person to complete the Bulger List. It’s a small world, after all!

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