Mount Stuart Skiing
Text: Tom Janisch
Photos: Kirk Bentley
On April 26, I had the pleasure of skiing the Sherpa Glacier with Donni and Adam Vognild, Kirk Bentley, and Mission Ridge pro-patroller Rob. We parked near the Bridge Creek campground up the Icicle River– Road 7601, leading to the Mountaineer Creek/ Lake Stuart trailhead, is still gated at Bridge Creek. We walked the firstl few miles of Road 7601 but by the Eightmile Lake Trailhead the road was fully snow covered.
With skins on skis, we efficiently toured along the Mountaineer Creek trail to the meadows north of Lake Stuart. We then followed the summer route up Mountaineer Creek to the pretty basin NW of the Sherpa Glacier. We were able to skin to about 8,000 feet. We booted to the col at the upper end of the Sherpa glacier, to about 8,500 feet, which is the standard descent route for the hard men and women who climb the Ice Cliff glacier and such routes. At the col we pensively enjoyed the views wondering how we would fare on the upper firm slopes back to the Sherpa glacier. The snows of last week were wind affected on the upper Sherpa. Below about 7,500 excellent powder skiing was had on the sheltered slopes below the north ridge of Sherpa Peak to about 5,500 feet. Consolidated snow made for an efficient ski out. All the while we marveled that this is in our back yard! See map of area below.
We parked near the Bridge Creek Campground some eight miles up the Icicle River Road, then walked and skied 4 miles up the Eightmile Road to the Mountaineer Creek Trailhead (the trailhead used to reach both Colchuck and Stuart lakes). Permits were not needed to park down low.
- Doing the trip later in the spring when the Eightmile Road has opened to vehicles would make this route considerably shorter and make the ascent to the summit of Stuart more feasible as a day trip. A Northwest Forest Pass is needed to park at the trailhead once the Eightmile Road opens.
Skiing to the summit of Mt. Stuart via the Sherpa Glacier is a reasonable skiing objective. In many snow conditions you’ll end up shouldering the skis and booting upward on the upper reaches of the Sherpa Glacier. Booting will often be easier on the upper mountain as well as you follow the SE ridge from the Sherpa col to the summit.
- Ice axes and crampons are recommended: The upper stretches of the Sherpa Glacier and the route beyond can be firm or icy. Sometimes these tools will be unnecessary but be prepared for firm conditions.
- The schrund that forms at the top of the Sherpa Glacier later in the season was still filled in and was a non-issue for us. We could see an indent forming and walked around it to climber’s right.
- Skiers devoting two days to this route and/or climbing Stuart via the Sherpa could camp in the pretty little basin below the Sherpa Glacier at about the 5,400-foot level. See map.
Leave It Better Than You found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse old fire rings, throw branches over unwanted spur trails…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.