Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ingalls Peak - 7/17/09

Ingalls Peak (North peak in middle)

Last Friday I climbed the South Ridge of North Ingalls Peak in the Mount Stuart range with the Mazamas. Kim and I drove up Thursday afternoon to camp near the trailhead where we met Hugh and Greg. I had never met any of them before, so it was nice having this opportunity to get acquainted before climbing the next day.

We were on the trail shortly after 5 a.m. Friday. The approach trail to Ingalls Pass was very nice. Upon arrival at the pass we were greeted by a heard of mountain goats and swarms of mosquitoes.

I’d never been this close to the mountain goats before. I wouldn’t say they were aggressive, but they definitely weren’t shy. They seemed to show no intention of yielding the trail and would follow us when we tried to go around. If we got too close they would let us know by making snorting and grunting sounds and pawing at the ground. This modest display of aggression would not have been quite as intimidating without the sharp horns on their heads.

We tried to give them as much space as possible, but they lingered in hopes one of us would stop to take a leak.

These goats crave salt and will get it any way they can, sucking on pack straps or lapping up urine. They reminded me a bit of the shape-shifting salt vampire from that old Star Trek episode.

It’s recommended that people pee on the rocks instead of on the dirt or on plants when in goat territory. This prevents the goats from tearing up the ground and plants.

Hugh attempted to become pee brothers with the goats but I don’t think the ceremony was complete, as Hugh never managed to drink any goat pee.

Salty yellow beverages

From the pass we proceeded across rock and snow fields to the base of the South Face.
The South Face

The slab that forms the South Face is a nice solid piece of rock with easy climbing and good cracks for protection. We climbed the route as two teams of two. I got to lead all three pitches on the second rope with Greg and had a blast! The sky was crystal clear, so we had great views of the surrounding peaks. 3 pitches up and 3 rappels down.

From the pass we proceeded across rock and snow fields to the base of the South Face.
Ingalls Lake

Looking down from top of pitch 2


Rappelling off the top

By climbing early on a Friday we managed to avoid the crowds for which this popular route is known. The first other climbers we saw were just gearing up at the base of the climb as we made our last rappel. Having the route to ourselves made me glad we climbed on a weekday.

The hike out was hot and the drive home long, but it was definitely worthwhile. I’m already scoping out peaks for another visit to this beautiful mountain range next summer.

Mount Stuart

Gear notes:

Required 2 ropes to rap the 2nd pitch
Used ~9 draws

Every anchor had bolts, slings, rap-rings
Used a #3 Camalot, but could have done without it

Wished I’d left the large hexes at home and brought cams in the .5-.75 Camalot range instead

Tri-cams took some fiddling to set properly in the smooth slippery cracks

Driving back to Portland through Yakima (~4 hrs) was faster than driving up through Olympia (~6 hrs)

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