OverviewThe North Ridge of Sherpa rises in a blocky jumble from the last significant group of trees at ~7000 feet to the 8600 foot summit. The ridge steeply divides the north-facing cirque it shares with Mount Stuart housing the Sherpa Glacier, from the talus and ice-patch-filled basin to the Northeast of the summit.
Some quality climbing is found on this ~1500 foot tall feature which affords pleasingly exposed views down to the two north-facing bowls. Those looking for a wilderness mountain climb in an outstanding position, away from the crowds and permits of the other peaks of the Stuart Range will be rewarded here.
This climb could be done in a very long day car to car from the Stuart Lake trailhead, or more reasonably given the somewhat arduous descent, in two days.
Getting ThereApproach information to the northeast side of Sherpa Peak is found on the NE couloir route page and on the main page. Good campsites and running water throughout spring and summer abound among the boulder fields NE of the summit. If the bugs get too bad, several caves exist in the jumbled talus offering some relief as well.
Route DescriptionFrom the NE basin ascend talus West-Northwest to a deep gully running to a notch on the ridge at about ~7000'. Expect snow getting onto the ridge into August.
A few hundred feet of low fifth-class terrain brings one to sandy ledges just east of the ridgecrest which can be followed towards the summit for several hundred feet if one so chooses. Loose blocks on the ledges dictate safer climbing on the ridge as soon as possible however, so make your way carefully past the looseness to the ridge crest where about a dozen ropelengths passing over scrambly and solid, albeit sometimes lichen-covered, rock leads to a very deep notch about 2/3 of the way up the ridge. Staying on or just east of the ridge generally affords the best climbing until the notch where one must downclimb or rappel to continue along the crest. From the notch climb over airy and sometimes loose scrambly terrain for a short distance until the ridge proper becomes considerably steeper. Here climb two ropelengths over mediocre, often lichen-covered, but well protected steep steps. Beyond these lie 2-3 ropelengths of solid, enjoyable, mid-fifth-class climbing to the summit.
Expect to simul-climb large blocks if planning on finishing the route and descent in a day. Recommend unroping for scrambling ledges below ridgecrest at begininning of ridge.
DescentTwo 25m rappels lead southwest from the summit into a large, loose gully. Follow this gully downhill then travel southeastward across many rocky ribs and loose gullies. Recommend staying low as one traverses to avoid being cliffed out, then climbing to Sherpa Pass once the terrain opens up and cliff bands become less frequent. Cairns exist but do not lead to any particularly preferable path. Descend directly over talus and likely snow from Sherpa Pass back to any camp and the South Fork Mountaineer Creek drainage.
Ice shown on USGS topographic maps is much reduced since its printing, a climbing party in September 2008 reports complete melt out of snow and ice below the North side of Sherpa Pass.
Essential GearRock rack to 2 inches, rope at least 50m long. Plan on bringing gear for efficient simul-climbing with likely two ropelengths of pitched-out climbing. Ice axe for descent from Sherpa Pass before September.
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