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

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

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Sherpa Peak was my last Bulger List peak on the Stuart Range to climb. Thankfully, the late snowfall this year made it possible to tackle this satellite peak of Mount Stuart. Even with the scenic approach, the exit was what most people dreaded. Like Mount Stuart, it involved climbing back up to Longs Pass after getting down to Ingalls Creek from the summit.

I have tried for months to find a partner for this trip but to no avail. So I finally decided to go solo via the east ridge. In a way, the reports are funny. The “obvious” gully is never apparent to me. But I usually would end up route finding on my own, with the help of maps and a GPS device.

The Lowdown on Sherpa Peak

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

Approach to Ingalls Creek

The poor weather started to develop the minute I arrived at Longs Pass. Sherpa Peak, as well as Mount Stuart, were visible for a brief second before quickly disappearing into clouds. After a fast descent to Ingalls Creek, I hiked east on Ingalls Creek Trail for a bit. Then I began to head up the south slopes by the first opening.

I spent the next few hours going up the long-running buttress to the west of Sherpa’s south basin. Shortly, I found a decent bivy spot at 6800′ and settled in for the evening. More clouds moved into the area, and there was still no signs of Sherpa Peak. But I kept my fingers crossed for the excellent weather forecast the next day.

See more trip photos here.

Sherpa Peak Climb

Next morning, I awoke to clear skies on the Teanaway side. But I wasn’t sure what it was like on the north side of Stuart Range. I was happy to see that the clouds over the summit gradually disappeared right before 8 AM. I was quite anxious to get going after seeing Sherpa Peak’s crown jewel, Balanced Rock, revealing itself. The stone was a unique feature that set Sherpa Peak apart from the rest of the Stuart Range high points.

It was a huge relief to see rappel slings and webbing while climbing up the east ridge. Then I knew I was still on the right track. I spotted cairns that guided me in the general direction as I checked out the Sherpa-Argonaut connecting ridge.

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En Route to the Balanced Rock

Glad I took a photo of the west while going up on the ridge. I’d soon find out that this would be the last time I saw The Enchantments. The clouds would completely blanket the Stuart Range. It was still fascinating to think that one-tenth of the Washington State highest 100 peaks are in The Enchantments.

It was breathtaking to see Sherpa Peak with Mount Stuart in the background as I bypassed the Balanced Rock. The sketchy traverse over new snow and wet terrain to Sherpa’s summit started from the bottom of the stone. As I got close to the summit block, I turned around and took another look at the Balanced Rock. That feature was much more prominent in person. Even the supporting foundation was over twice my height.

See more trip photos here.

Finishing via the North Side

To the south of the Stuart Range was bright and sunny, in contrast with the bleakness to the north. Other than the sounds of the constant south wind, the only thing I heard was my heavy breathing. I very much enjoyed the solitude on this peak and the gorgeous views into the Teanaway backcountry.

Mount Stuart was even more imposing seeing it from this summit. I spent a long time on top before heading down. I wanted to savor the views as this was my last Bulger List peak to tackle before ending the season. Two rappels down the west ridge plus some down climbing put me in the south gully.

See more trip photos here.

Outro

It took a while to get through the seemingly never-ending talus field in the south basin before camp. All the while, I thought I heard people talking above me toward Mount Stuart. Other than packing and taking a power nap, I didn’t spend much time at the campsite. Soon, I headed down the mountain.

After crossing Ingalls Creek, I met a couple who had just come from skiing the south face of Mount Stuart. So it was their voices that I heard earlier. I then asked to join them on the hike out to motivate myself in getting back up to Longs Pass. 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!

See more trip photos here.

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