After an exhausting day on the North Ridge of Mount Stuart, we spent the next doing nothing but sunbathing at the lake. The following morning, we were ready for some more action and climbed the South Ridge of Ingalls Peak before hiking out. The route follows easy cracks up the smooth slabs of slick red rock that comprise the South Ridge. It is a short and pleasant climb that people usually do in a day from the trailhead. Since we were camped so close to it (we could see Ingalls peak from our camp in fact), we elected to climb it as a side trip.
Even after a day of rest, our knees were still tired from our adventure on Mount Stuart. When the alarm went off, we decided it was too early and doze off again. After all, the base of the route is only a short walk up a scree gully from the lake, so we were in no hurry... We finally emerged from our bags around 6AM and enjoyed the company of mountain goats during breakfast. On a cooking note, Eric had his usual plain instant oatmeal... for the last time. The end of an era! He's been eating this same sticky mush the morning of climbs for years. This time was one too many. He swore that this would be the end of the horse food era! From now on, it will be muesli!
We left camp around 7:30AM and hiked up toward Mount Ingalls. After walking around the lake, we went up the boulder and scree gully that leads to the base of the South Ridge. Going up the gully, our knees reminded us the descent down the infamous Cascadian Couloir two days earlier. We started up the 1st pitch around 9AM. An hour and four pitches (mostly short) later, we were on the summit. The climbing was very mellow. The second pitch was worthwhile though; it follows nice cracks on strange looking red rock. After taking the usual summit pictures, we rapped down and were back at our packs in no time. A huge guided party (6 people) was starting up the climb. We were glad we had not slept in any longer that morning.
On the way back to camp, Eric threw himself into the icy cold lake. I certainly did not want to follow his example. There were so many mosquitoes buzzing around that I ran like crazy around the lake to minimize contact with the horrible creatures! We were back at camp just in time for lunch. It was very warm. We did not feel like eating anything warm so we had carrots and made a cheesecake (instant powdered cheesecake is one of our favorite snacks at camp these days). To our great disappointment, the goats were not there to keep us company. We then started the painful task of packing and eventually headed out around 2PM. Just before we left, we bumped into a party going up to climb the North Ridge. They were going to do it in two days with a bivy at the notch. After doing the route, we clearly don't think that's the way to do it! Why carry bivy gear when the route can be climbed in a day (however long) from a comfortable camp?
The heat was unbearable on the hike out and with all the water breaks we had to take, it took us almost three hours to get back down. To our horror, there were several groups hiking up in the blazing sun with ungodly large packs. Some people like to suffer...
The South Ridge of Ingalls was a fine short route but I don't think it is as worthwhile as the guidebook implies (it says that some climbers are tempted to climb the route a second time before hiking out). It's true that it is a nice easy climb in a beautiful setting (Ingalls Lake is a lovely spot) but I don't think I would do the hike-in just to climb Ingalls. However, it makes a great side trip to a climb of Mount Stuart.
Ingalls Peak , South Ridge
|Ingalls Peak from the southeast; the South Ridge route climbs near the left skyline.|
|Our camp near Stuart Pass, with Mount Stuart in the background.|
|The east side of Ingalls, from camp.|
|Mountain goat posing for us with Mount Stuart in the background.|
|Mountain goat with her calf.|
|The South Face route follows cracks up smooth slabs of slick red rock.|
|Lucie on the first pitch.|
|The third and last pitch exits left just above Lucie onto 3rd class slabs to the top.|
|At the summit, with Mount Rainier in the background.|
|Looking south from the summit.|
|Curious rock texture with glassy green layer (we think the rock type is "Yellow Aster Complex", the oldest rock in the Cascades).|
|Back at camp; packing to leave.|