60 Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir

Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir (detailed description) Trip Reports SummitPost
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Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir


Mount Stuart, standing tall at 9,415 feet, is a prominent peak in the Cascade Range of Washington State. Known for its challenging and diverse climbing routes, Mount Stuart offers a thrilling adventure to mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts. One such route, the Cascadian Couloir, is a popular choice for those seeking a unique and exhilarating ascent. In this article, we will delve into the details of the Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir, exploring its history, difficulty, and rewards.

The History of the Cascadian Couloir

The Cascadian Couloir, also known as the Northeast Ridge Route, was first climbed in 1943 by Robert Craig and Carl Skoog. This route quickly gained popularity due to its accessibility and stunning views. Over the years, it has become a classic climb in the Pacific Northwest, attracting climbers from all over the world. The route follows a prominent couloir on the northeast side of Mount Stuart, offering a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Route Description

The Cascadian Couloir route starts at Ingalls Creek Trailhead, where climbers embark on a 17-mile round trip journey. From the trailhead, hikers will follow the Ingalls Creek Trail for approximately 4.5 miles until reaching a junction with the Stuart Lake Trail. At this point, hikers will leave the main trail and head towards Stuart Lake.

After reaching Stuart Lake, climbers will continue along the trail, gradually gaining elevation. The trail eventually disappears, and climbers will need to navigate through talus fields and boulder-filled slopes. This section requires careful route-finding skills and can be physically demanding. It is advisable to have prior experience in off-trail navigation and rock scrambling.

As climbers approach the base of Mount Stuart, they will encounter the Cascadian Couloir, a prominent gully that leads to the summit. This couloir is steep and filled with loose scree, making it a challenging ascent. Climbers must exercise caution and use proper climbing techniques to safely navigate through this section.

Once reaching the summit, climbers will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Cascade mountains, including Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. The descent follows the same route, requiring careful footwork and attention to detail.

Difficulty and Skills Required

The Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir is considered a moderately difficult climb. It requires a good level of physical fitness, as climbers will need to hike long distances and navigate through challenging terrain. The route also involves technical rock scrambling and exposure to steep slopes.

Basic mountaineering skills, such as the proper use of crampons and ice axes, are essential for a safe ascent. Climbers should be proficient in rope management and self-arrest techniques, as well as have experience with glacier travel. It is highly recommended to have prior climbing experience and to be comfortable with Class 3 and 4 terrain.

Best Time to Climb

The optimal time to climb the Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir is during the summer months, typically from June to September. During this period, the route is typically free from snow, making it easier to navigate. However, climbers should always be prepared for changing weather conditions and carry the necessary gear for self-rescue.

Permit and Safety Considerations

As with any climb in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, a permit is required for overnight stays. It is essential to check with the local ranger station for current permit regulations and any additional safety considerations.

Mount Stuart is a remote and challenging mountain, and climbers should be prepared for potential hazards such as rockfall, loose scree, and changing weather. It is crucial to bring appropriate gear, including a helmet, harness, and sufficient food and water. It is also recommended to climb with a partner or in a group for added safety.


The Mount Stuart Cascadian Couloir offers a thrilling and rewarding adventure for climbers seeking a challenging ascent. With its stunning views, technical terrain, and rich mountaineering history, this route is a must-do for experienced mountaineers. However, it is important to approach this climb with caution and proper preparation, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on one of the most iconic peaks in the Cascade Range.