Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA: Mount Stuart via Cascadian Couloir

Scramble a sneak route to the highest mountain in the Enchantment Range on this challenging, 11.3-mile out-and-back in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
Scramble a sneak route to the highest mountain in the Enchantment Range on this challenging, 11.3-mile out-and-back in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

To live in Seattle is to have an embarrassment of life-list mountains within a few hours of your door. But only Mt. Stuart couples both the alpine rewards of high-profile peaks like Adams and Rainier with the solitude that most hikers only experience on weeklong trips.

This summit rises more than 5,000 feet from the surrounding terrain, testing quads and lungs alike—but you won’t need to rope up or pack crampons. Stuart is the highest mountain in the Enchantment Range, overlooking the entire Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Some speculate that it’s the largest chunk of exposed granite in the United States. Bonus: You’ll be able to see your entire summit-day climb from the hike in.

From the Esmeralda trailhead, hike the Ingalls Way Trail past several small waterfalls up switchbacks to 6,200-foot Longs Pass at 2.5 miles, then descend a rocky climbers’ trail to Ingalls Creek. Cross the creek and find the Ingalls Creek Trail, which parallels the stream. Head southeast along the creek a short distance to a small meadow on the left to set up camp.

Locate the faint climbers’ trail heading northeast before settling in for the night (it can be tricky to find via headlamp during your alpine start). It leads to the Cascadian Couloir climbing route. Mountain goats may mingle with you on your way up the rocky terrain in the class 3, 3,500-vertical-foot, 30-degree couloir. At the top of the chute, continue up talus to a notch east of a false summit. Pick your way across the ridge and up a slab to the summit. Pack a helmet—rockfall (usually goat-triggered) is common.

GUIDEBOOK Climbing Washington’s Mountains, by Jeff Smoot ($30, falcon.com)

PERMITS Required (free at trailhead register). A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead (800) 270-7504, naturenw.org

CONTACT (509) 852-1100; fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/cle-elum-wilderness

-Mapped by Kevin Goodenough and Ryan Goodenough

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 18.2

Waypoints

STU001

Location: 47.437098, -120.937261

From the Esmeralda trailhead, hike the Ingalls Way Trail past several small waterfalls up switchbacks to 6,200-foot Longs Pass.

STU002

Location: 47.440439, -120.938407

Bear right at Y-junction.

STU003

Location: 47.444518, -120.930877

Turn right, heading south.

STU004

Location: 47.449055, -120.925472

Crest Longs Pass, then descend north on a rocky climbers’ trail to Ingalls Creek.

STU005

Location: 47.456321, -120.911332

Cross Ingalls Creek (you may have to hike up and down the creekbed to scout the best crossing point). Caution: Water levels may be high in late summer, making this a difficult crossing. Tip: Bring bug repellent; the mosquitoes along this creek can be brutal.

STU006

Location: 47.457257, -120.909777

Cross another creek. Next, keep an eye out for the established Ingalls Creek Trail, which is located just east of this point.

STU006

Location: 47.456268, -120.908432

When you intersect the Ingalls Creek Trail, bear right, heading southeast a short distance to a small meadow, which is also a good spot to set up camp.

STU007

Location: 47.45497, -120.905856

Campsite

STU008

Location: 47.455014, -120.905297

Locate the faint climbers’ trail heading northeast before settling in for the night (it can be tricky to find via headlamp during your alpine start). It leads to the Cascadian Couloir climbing route.

STU009

Location: 47.464593, -120.901612

Mountain goats may mingle with you on your way up the rocky terrain in the class 3, 3,500-vertical-foot, 30-degree couloir. At the top of the chute, continue up talus to a notch east of a false summit. Pick your way across the ridge and up a slab to the summit. Pack a helmet;
rockfall (usually goat-triggered) is common.
(Note: The GPS track to the summit will be uploaded in Summer 2011.)

STU010

Location: 47.465584, -120.900219

Ascend past treeline.

STU011

Location: 47.473062, -120.899231

False summit

STU012

Location: 47.475109, -120.902428

Mount Stuart (9,415 ft.): Stuart is the highest mountain in the Enchantment Range, overlooking the entire Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Some speculate that it’s the largest chunk of exposed granite in the United States. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

Views of Mt. Stuart from Longs Pass

Location: 47.450032, -120.924797

First view of Mt. Stuart from Longs Pass.

Esmeralda Basin Trailhead

Location: 47.437101, -120.937216

Longs Pass Trail Junction

Location: 47.444516, -120.930744

Descent to Ingalls Creek

Location: 47.454097, -120.917221

Camp

Location: 47.454994, -120.905722

Meadowy Climb

Location: 47.457301, -120.904884

You'll hike through grassy meadows at the start of the Mt. Stuart climb.

Boulder Field

Location: 47.460363, -120.904063

This is what you will see during the first part of the hike.

Break Spot

Location: 47.464591, -120.90152

A little breather....

Mountain Goat

Location: 47.467961, -120.899289

Our friend for a portion of the climb.

Viewpoint

Location: 47.471684, -120.897242

This is good place to put on your crampons.

Snow Climb

Location: 47.47251, -120.898072

Mt. Stuart

Location: 47.473069, -120.899138

Longs Pass Ascent

Location: 47.45308, -120.919689

Headed back up to Longs Pass from Ingalls Creek on the return trip.