Mt. Stuart; Seattle, WA
- Elevation: 9,415 feet
- Route: North Ridge (5.9, 15 pitches)
- Drive: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Mt. Stuart is one of the largest exposed chunks of granite in the Lower 48, rising more than 5,000 feet above the surrounding Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The North Ridge, one of the “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America,” is no secret to anyone, and for good reason—it has 15 pitches of often exposed climbing on solid rock along a knife-edge ridge, reaching the highest summit in the Enchantments. Late summer and fall are the best times to find dry rock on most of the route, but you’ll still need to cross a glacier and climb a snow gully at the start.
CLIMB IT: Plan at least two days for the approach, climb, and descent; several bivy sites will be found along the route. Generally, follow the ridge crest for about 10 pitches of fourth- and fifth-class climbing. Decision time comes at the Great Gendarme, where you can battle up a short 5.9 offwidth or bypass the pillar with a rappel and some easier slab climbing.
GET THERE: From Seattle, drive I-90 east to Cle Elum and merge onto WA-970. Turn left onto Teanaway Road for 9 miles to a Y intersection. Take the right fork (FS-9737) and follow it until it ends at the Longs Pass Trailhead. Walk the Longs Pass Trail to the Ingalls Lake Trail; take the Ingalls Lake Trail to Ingalls Pass and down to Ingalls Lake. Skirt the lake on its west side, and from the north end, drop 300 feet to a meadow and traverse toward Stuart Pass. Take the climbers’ trail to a shoulder below Stuart’s West Ridge, then contour northwest to Goat Pass, cross the Stuart Glacier, and up a snow gully to the crest of the North Ridge at 8,200 feet.
BETA: Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Volume 1, by Jim Nelson and Peter Potterfield; summitpost.org
PERMITS: Available at trailhead; Northwest Forest Pass required for parking (naturenw.org)