Stuart Range Traverse
Matthew and I skied the Stuart Range traverse over 5 days starting at Snow Creek TH, summiting Little Annapurna, Dragontail, Colchuck, Stuart, Point 7793, Eightmile, and Cashmere before hiking out Eightmile Road. We followed the route described in this trip report except that instead of skiing the Sherpa Glacier we skied Ulrich’s and instead of downclimbing exposed snow on the N face of Point 7793 we skied down the E ridge. The price of admission in the Stuart Range is high right now but the corn is so damn good!
The first day was a long slog up Snow Creek into the Enchantments. We were able to start skinning where the trail crosses Snow Creek at 4,200’ after about 4.5 miles of hiking. We skinned across Nada Lake which wasn’t quite frozen at the edges, but we couldn’t find a way onto the ice on Snow Lake so we skinned around it. Beautiful camp at Leprechaun Lake under Prusik!
The next morning we skinned through the Enchantments past Perfection Lake and Crystal Lake to the summit of Little Annapurna. We skied an icy traverse over to Isolation Lake then climbed to the summit of Dragontail and met a lot of mountain goats. We skied a traverse to Pandora’s Box then followed a booter to the col and had another fairly icy descent down the Pandora Couloir to the top of the Colchuck Glacier. We booted up to the summit of Colchuck and then skied ridiculously good steep corn down the S face of Colchuck. We didn’t expect much of this descent but it ended up being one of my favorite runs of the season! We climbed up the E couloir of Argonaut and tried to find a way onto the N snowfield but turned around at some steep rock. This couloir is real steep - about the limit of my comfort with one ice axe. More amazing corn down the SW couloir of Argonaut. When the snow turned to mush we traversed out of the couloir trying to avoid dry hiking at the bottom of Ingalls Creek. Terrible idea! We soon ran out of snow and had to bushwhack through slide alder and avalanche debris down to the bottom of the valley. I ran into a momma bear and her two cubs on the way down. We skinned a couple miles to the base of the Cascadian Couloir on Stuart and then set up camp, pretty damn exhausted.
The next morning we left most of our gear at camp and headed up the Cascadian with day packs. We chilled on the summit for a while then skied Ulrich’s at 11:20am - maybe a tad early. The descent was awesome corn with some ice in the shade. We traversed W out of the main couloir around 6,800’, thinking we were getting around the waterfall. We skied back into the main couloir at 6,000’ then found the real waterfall at 5,800’. We traversed E out of the couloir this time and skied back to our camp at Ingalls Creek. 4,500’ descent without removing the skis!
The next morning we skinned up to Stuart Pass then skied a short traverse to under the W face of Stuart. We ski cramponed and booted up to the col at 7,600’ then skied another unexpectedly awesome run W of the Stuart Glacier into the drainage below Jack Lake at 6,000’, traversing left to get around some cliffs at the bottom. We skinned up to where Jack Ridge meets the W ridge of Point 7492 then skied more corn into Eightmile Creek. The next climb to the summit of Point 7793 was long and hot with a good bit of booting. We made it to the summit and looked at the steep snow downclimb on the N side and quickly decided that it was too sketchy for us. Not trying to downclimb steep snow over death exposure on a hot afternoon! We scrambled down the E ridge for about 100’ then skied around to the N side at 7,360’ and traversed to Eightmile. This route requires a few hundred feet more elevation gain but it’s much safer. We climbed to the summit of Eightmile and then skied more corn down the NE Face. After a short climb we skied a final run down to Little Caroline Lake, set up camp, and made some margaritas for Cinco de Mayo with tequila Matthew had brought. Thanks Matthew!
On the final morning we left our overnight gear at camp and traversed over to the S Couloir of Cashmere. A bit thin at the top but still skiable! We traversed back to camp, skinning the last bit, then skinned over to Lake Caroline and skied down to about 5,600’ with only a bit of dry skiing. Then a 6.5 mile hike back to the car with no food and some jägerschnitzel, spätzle, and red cabbage from Bavarian Bistro & Bar as a reward!
Total stats: 28,360’ ascent, 51.65 miles, 5 days
- Snow Lake TH to Leprechaun Lake: 6,070’ up, 538’ down, 10.56 miles
- Leprechaun Lake to Ingalls Creek: 5,528’ up, 7,641’ down, 11.19 miles
- Stuart via Cascadian and Ulrich’s: 4,862’ up, 4,862’ down, 4.71 miles
- Ingalls Creek to Little Caroline Lake: 8,796’ up, 7,326’ down, 12.52 miles
- Little Caroline Lake to Cashmere to Bridge Creek: 3,104’ up, 7,136’ down, 12.67 miles