The alpine environment of the Teanaway is one of my top 3 favorite places in the world. Mount Stuart dominates the skyline. The area is the perfect mix of dry terrain, groves of larches, abundant wildlife, and a cornucopia of while flowers. For my birthday, I had the opportunity to climb Ingalls peak twice: once with Melissa and then again with Peter, Mary, and Jason. This put me in my favorite place with some of my favorite people doing one of my favorite things. I don’t have many birthday traditions, but this would be a heck of a good one to get started.
Melissa and I set out from my place at 5:10 Thursday morning. We made good time getting to the trailhead: the Teanaway road is in the best shape I’ve ever seen it; I don’t remember any potholes. We geared up and were on the trail by 7:10. The Ingalls pass trail is in great shape, and it took us 90 minutes to climb the 2000’ to the pass. Here you descend into the lake basin. I get giddy every time I see Stuart and get to walk through the larches, and this time was no exception.
We leapfrogged a bit with a party heading toward the North Ridge of Stuart on the approach. They gave us some beta to stay on slabs and boulders that go left of the 7200’ prominence south of Ingalls peak. This was a good tip, and we found little choss getting to the 7300’ saddle between South Ingalls and Ingalls peaks. Little, except I thought we should traverse some slab toward a gulley. A sketchy slab move led us to a kitty litter gulley that went up for 50 vertical feet. Don’t go that way.
I opted to bring us back behind the Dogs Tooth crag and start from there. We roped up at the beginning of a class 4 ramp. After safety checks I led out to the top of pitch 2 from here (less than 60m). We dropped packs along the way. I belayed Melissa up and then led out on the best pitch of this climb: the red slab. I led out on the 5.6 variation. For me the climbing seems like sustained 5.4 with some 5.6 moves, all on slick rock. The holds are good, and for the most part the crack eats cams and nuts. The pitch tops out with a thin left-leaning crack and some face moves to the top bolts. This was only my 4th trad lead, and I found myself a little stressed out on the pitch. I worked through the stress, remembered my breathing, and made it with little difficulty.
The final pitch is a few low-5th moves and some exposed but easy scrambling. From the top of the 3rd pitch, one crack goes left and another right. I though the left crack was correct. I was wrong. A couple moves in it got very thin with no protection. I downclimbed back to the Y and went right.
The top scramble is exposed but uneventful, and then were on the summit! Melissa brought some cake/cookie and a birthday balloon. She is so cool and thoughtful, and brightened an already amazing day!
We hung out on the summit for a little bit and ate lunch. When we got hot, we downclimbed the scramble, rappelled down and ended in the gully below the traditional 1st pitch. A single 70m rope is sufficient to rap the red slab bitch, barely. As other reports indicate, a 60m rope will not get you down.
We reversed the way we came, taking a few minutes to watch a family of mountain goats play on the shore of the lake. We had a little difficulty route finding back to the trail on the slabs, but otherwise it was cruiser all the way out. We filtered water at the stream by the Ingalls basin camp sites. Car-to-car in 12:24.
The next day, Friday August 23, 2019, I got to do it all again! Peter and Jason met me at my place at 4am and we drove out. The road remained in good shape. We were on the trail by 6:30am, to the pass in 90 minutes, and back to the base behind the Dogs Tooth crag. It was surreal to see my footprints from the day before. This time Jason and I swung leads, and he was kind enough to let me lead the 5.6 pitch. The red slab, 5.6 pitch went better for me this time and, even though there were a couple moments of stress, I was pretty comfortable throughout.
I brought up some extra cord to replace the rap tat at the top of p4. When I checked it yesterday, one of the cords looked good, the other two were starting to wear through (one was worn completely through the sheath and into the core). Jason ended up doing the replacement, and this ate up some significant time; feeding cord through bolted anchors is so much weirder than just being able to clip carabiners where you need them.
All four of us made it to the summit. We hung out, and Mary brought some amazing cookies from Hello Robin for my birthday. That was so nice and thoughtful of here, and I can recommend the cookies, too! We rappelled down, descended, and were out to the cars in 11:45 from the start.
As a novice trad leader, I’m learning so much every time I go out. This was my first (and second) alpine trad lead. Having followed up Ingalls peak earlier in the summer gave me good beta on the climbing route and made route-finding straightforward. My systems were more dialed on day 2 than on day 1, I was more confident in my placements, and more confident in the climbing overall.
I consider myself eminently fortunate to have an amazing girlfriend and amazing friends who are down to do these things with me, make me feel special, and push me in just the right ways. I’m privileged to be able to bail from work and afford the time and money to do this thing. It was a good two days.