Sherpa Peak East Ridge on Mount Stuart Range via Longs Pass / 夏爾巴峯

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Sherpa Peak is a satellite peak of Mount Stuart and the #4 highest on the Stuart Range. But it’s the famous balanced rock that truly defines this high point. Moreover, the east ridge provides the least challenging way to reach the summit.

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, rock & rope
GPS Track: available

Sherpa Peak

The late snowfall this year allowed me to tackle my final peak on the Stuart Range. But even with a scenic approach, I dreaded the exit. And like Mount Stuart, it involved going back up to Longs Pass from Ingalls Creek.

For months, I’ve reached out to several folks for a partner but no avail. So, in the end, I went solo via the east ridge, the least technical route. My only concern was the “obvious” gully in the reports.

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Ingalls Creek

The lousy weather had slowly developed the minute I reached Longs Pass. Sherpa Peak, as well as Mount Stuart, was only visible for a short time. Then they both vanished into the clouds within minutes.

Later I 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 southern slopes.

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Sherpa Peak South Route

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

By now, more clouds had moved into the area. So there were still no signs of Sherpa Peak. But I kept my fingers crossed for the next day’s excellent forecast to be accurate.

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Sherpa Peak Climb

The following day, I awoke to a clear sky in Teanaway. But north of Stuart Range looked a bit questionable. It was comforting to see the clouds over Sherpa Peak had slowly faded just before 8 AM.

I was very anxious to get going after seeing the Balanced Rock. Sherpa Peak’s crown jewel had revealed itself at last. The unique feature sets Sherpa Peak apart from the rest of the peaks here.

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Sherpa Peak East Ridge

Slings and webbing along the ridge provided a great sense of relief. So I knew I was on the right track. Cairns would guide me in the general direction. I’d sometimes turn around and look down at the steep ridgeline.

It’s fascinating to know that one-tenth of Washington State’s tallest peaks are in this area. As I took photos and moved up the ridge, it’d be the last time I saw anything to the east. Then clouds quickly devoured the range.

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Balanced Rock

Later I went around the rock from the north. At the same time, I relished the stunning sight of Mount Stuart behind Sherpa Peak. Then I made the sketchy traverse over new snow and wet rocks.

As I neared the top, I turned around and looked at the Balanced Rock one more time. It was so much more impressive in person. The platform alone was over twice my height.

See more trip photos here.

Sherpa Peak Summit

It was bright and sunny to the south. In contrast, the north side was quite bleak. Apart from the swooshing south wind,  I could only hear my heavy breathing. Though, I immensely enjoyed the solitude.

Mount Stuart was even more impressive seeing it here. I stayed a while to savor the views before leaving the top. Two rappels down the west ridge and some down climbing then put me in the south gully.

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Back to Longs Pass

Going through the massive rock field above the campsite took a while. Meanwhile, I thought I had heard voices coming from Mount Stuart. Other than a power nap, I didn’t stay long back at camp.

Later I caught up to a couple on the other side of Ingalls Creek. They had just come from skiing on Mount Stuart’s south side. So it was their voices that I had heard earlier. 

See more trip photos here.


Feeling unmotivated, I asked to join the skiers on the hike up to the pass. As it turned out, we had at least one mutual friend. She’s the one who had just become the youngest Bulger List finisher.

It’s a small world, after all!

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