Cascadian Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 47.46483°N / 120.90119°W
Additional Information GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk Up
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 3
Sign the Climber's Log


Summit of Stuart at Sunset
Sunset on Mount Stuart
This is considered by many to be the standard route up Mount Stuart, it is non technical allowing many scramblers and climbers to have easy access up this peak. Many climbers also use this route for the descent instead of going back down the other various technical routes on Mount Stuart. The climb offers great views of the Teanaway, Enchantments, and some of the other peaks in the Leavenworth area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The route has a few class 3 spots, but has low exposure as long as you stay on route. Throughout most of the year an ice axe is recommended as well as crampons, usually most of the snow is melted out through out July, but sometimes the snow has a way of lingering on snowy years.

Mt. Stuart
Cascadian Couloir on the Right : Taken by Matt Lemke

Fog heading over the Ridge
Fog over the Ridge
Upper Snowfield on Stuart
Upper Snowfield
Sherpa Peak
Sherpa Peak View
Matt Lemke heading Down
Heading Down
Mount Stuart - Snowfield
Hiking the Snowfield

Getting There

Leavenworth sunset
View from Leavenworth
Mount Stuart
Mount Stuart from the Road
For easy Google Maps directions click here.

From Seattle:
Drive East on I-90 for about 80 miles, turn right at exit 85. Turn left onto WA-10/WA-970 which crosses over the bridge over I-90. Then take a right onto Highway 970, (it may also be called highway 10) which goes east for 6.5 miles until you reach a road on your left called "Teanaway Road", be sure to take this road. As your traveling along you may see views of the Enchantments as well as Mount Stuart, I consider this to be a beautiful drive. After 7.3 miles be sure to stay on the North Fork Teanaway Road (the road changes automatically when passing by the West Fork Teanaway). In 5.8 miles you reach another fork in the road, take a right onto forest road 9737. Stay on this road until you get to the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead.

From Leavenworth:
Head East on Highway 2 for about 4.3 miles (depends on what part of town you start out at). Take the ramp on your right which takes you onto Highway 97 which goes south for about 35.2 miles. Continue straight which the road changes to Highway 970 which you follow for 3.4 miles. Take a right onto "Teanaway Road". After 7.3 miles be sure to stay on the North Fork Teanaway Road (the road changes automatically when passing by the West Fork Teanaway). In 5.8 miles you reach another fork in the road, take a right onto forest road 9737. Stay on this road until you get to the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead.

Route Description

Start out hiking along the Esmerelda trail which follows along an old jeep road for about .5 miles of mostly flat well maintained trail. Very soon you reach a fork in the trail, take a right here which it's labeled as Ingalls Way. The trail gently switch backs up the side of Fortune Peak. At the intersection with the Long's Pass Trail and Ingalls Pass Trail, be sure to take a right which goes up to Longs Pass. Longs Pass is estimated to be at an elevation of 6,300 feet high with a decent view of Mount Stuart and the rest of the Stuart Range.

Mount Stuart s South Face
Stuart's South Face
Mount Rainier from Longs Pass
Rainier from Longs Pass
Marsh Lands
Marsh Lands after the Pass
Purple Lupine
Purple Lupines

Now you head over the other side of the pass heading Northeast, be careful scrambling down the loose rock to get down to the trail. At first the trail goes down in zipper-like fashion towards the basin. The trail then goes into swampy like terrain with mud and a few small creeks running through it in places. This then descends down into a basin at en elevation of 4,800 feet. When you get to the creek crossing it might be a good idea to find a log crossing. In recent times the big log broke, is wobbly, and is getting rotted. It may still be usable.

Log Crossing of Ingalls Creek
Log Crossing of Ingalls Creek (before it broke)

In a 100 yards north or so you arrive on the Ingalls Creek trail which heads slightly downwards in the eastern direction. In about 1/3 of a mile you will start to see a major clearing to your left. You may start heading up any time you want, but from personal experience the best spot to head up was from the main camp. The main camp is on the south side of the trail (right) which has a flag. The turn off for the CC is on the left (north). There is a boot path that leads all the way to the bottom of the Cascadian Couloir. Keep in mind it may be brushy depending on the time of year.

Looking back up Mount Stuart
Cascadian Couloir Beginning
Ingalls Peak with Clouds
Ingalls Peak with Clouds
Ingalls Creek during Evening
Ingalls Creek during Evening
Longs Pass in the Morning
Longs Pass in the Morning
Cascadian Couloir
Route Diagram by MarshallS

There are cairns along the way to help guide you in case you have troubles staying on trail (which shouldn't be a problem). After about 700 feet of elevation gain you finally arrive at the bottom of the Cascadian Couloir. The slope gets steeper and rocks become abundant. Perhaps the biggest danger of this route is the human factor, watch out for rocks falling and try not to knock rocks down as you head up. There is at least one section that has a lot of dirt which depending on where you are can get deep. Some people don't like this route because of this, but nothing a mountaineer couldn't handle. Later on you top out of the Cascadian Couloir and start gently hiking up between the false summit and the saddle.

Looking up the Cascadian Couloir
Looking up the CC
Looking South from Stuart
View to the South
View from inside the CC
Looking down the Cascadian Couloir
Looking down the CC

Cascadian Colouir
Views to the South from inside the Cascadian Coulour
Redwic Ascending Cascadian
Redwic Ascending the Upper Cascadian
An Exposed Move
Off Route near the Summit
Exiting the Cascadian Couloir
Exiting the Cascadian Couloir

Ascent the snow field and head to the upper snowfield on the right. Eventually you come to the ridge where an ice axe comes in handy if it's snow covered. There are a few spots of some exposure which if you take your time it's easy to get by. After some more scrambling you should aim for a hundred or so feet below the false summit on the left side. This is a great place to ditch your pack for the last part of the scramble.

Looking towards Sherpa Peak
Looking towards Sherpa
Cascadian Glissadian
Snowfield near False Summit
Matt Lemke Scrambling Down
Scrambling near False Summit
False Summit of Mount Stuart
False Summit of Mount Stuart
West Horn above the Clouds
West Horn above the Clouds

The last part traverses around the corner where you see the true summit which is considered a easy class 3 scramble. For the first part try not to gain too much elevation in order to avoid big rocks and mini cliffs. As you get closer to the summit, it becomes easier to navigate as well as the scrambling. The last 20 or so feet is a slab with cracks in it. With a little bit of caution, you arrive on the second highest non volcano of Washington State.

Scramble Section near the Summit
Scramble near the Summit
Stuart Summit
Stuart Summit
Mount Stuart
The Summit Scramble

Lake Stuart
Looking Down on Stuart Lake

The weather changes pretty quickly here, so enjoy your stay but keep an open eye on the horizon. When I was here, the summit clouded over very fast. Be sure to get down before it gets dark to prevent getting off route and getting lost.

Descending From Longs Pass
Heading Down Longs Pass late in the Day

Red Tape & Camping

Right Place, Wrong Time....
Sunset near the Summit
Camping near Ingalls Creek
There is no permit required for any southern route up Mount Stuart. You do not have to have a Enchantments permit (or any other) to camp on the Cascadian Couloir or any other camping spot in the area as long as it's south of the summit of Mount Stuart.

You have quite a few options for camping:
  • The Trailhead

  • Ingalls Pass

  • The Meadows Below Mount Stuart

  • Above the Couloir

  • And an Emergency Bivy Spot near the Summit

Filtering Water:
Near the Bottom of Mount Stuart in the meadows there is a creek which one could filter water from. Also there is a creek near the trailhead if your out for the way home. Fill up where possible because I don't recall there being a lot of water filtering zones.

Be sure you have enough time for this route if your doing this in a single day push. If you are a slower hiker, it is advised that you leave from the trailhead in early morning to avoid the heat of the day and to maximize on day light. For many this requires a full day of traveling.

Route Conditions

Interesting Cloud Formation
Clouds Coming In
Swirling Clouds on the Ridge
Swirling Clouds Above
View the weather prediction for the Cascadian Couloir at the Noaa Forecast.

For the Avalanche Forecast be sure to check in with the North West Avalanche Center (seasonal).

For road conditions check with the Wenatchee National Forest, the road conditions that you would want is the "Teanaway" (#9737). The Cle Elm Ranger District can be contacted at (509) 852-1100 and are located at 803 W. 2nd Street, Cle Elum, WA 98922

Web Cams of the Road Conditions for Snoquamie Pass

Sunset Above the Cascadian Couloir
Sunset Above the Cascadian Couloir

Essential Gear

Ascending The Cascadian Couloir
Using Polls and a Helmet
Longs pass route to Stuart
Wearing a Hat
Josh on Stuart
Gaiters, Camera, and Glasses
Gear that is Mandatory all Year:
  • Helmet (although there is not a whole lot of rock fall, people often knock rocks down the gully on accident)

  • Sun/Glacier Glasses

  • Sunscreen

  • 2-3 Nalgene Bottles (1 Liter Each)

Gear Needed for Early Season Conditions
  • Ice Axe

  • Crampons

  • Extra Clothing (jacket, synthetic long sleeve, ect.)

Gear for Overnight Travel
  • Tent/Bivy

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Sleeping Pad

  • Stove & Fuel

  • Filter/Water Tablets

I would also recommend bringing the camera on this beautiful mountain.

Topographic Maps

Cascadian Couloir Topographic Map
Topographic Map of the Route

Flowers and Wildlife

Yellow Flowers
Yellow Flowers
Lupines with Mount Stuart
Lupines with Mount Stuart
Purple Flowers near Longs Pass
Purple Flowers
Beetle in the Gully
Beetle in the Gully

Paintbrush on Stuart
Paintbrush on Stuart
Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat on the way down the Cascadian Couloir

External Links & Trip Reports



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