Climb Mount Stuart

Washington Esmerelda Basin Trail

Added by Tobin Akehurst

  • Ascend to the 9,415ft summit of Washingtons 2nd tallest non-volcanic peak.
  • A very challenging and enjoyable overnight trip.
  • Unrivaled views of the Central Cascades
  • 8,300 ft of cumulative elevation gain.
  • Roughly 13 miles RT
  • Mostly class 2 with some class 3 travel
  • Likely a few class 4 moves unless your route finding is PERFECT.

Global climbing legend Fred Beckey once said, "[Mount Stuart is] without a rival as the crown peak in the central Cascades of Washington, Mount Stuart has been pronounced the single greatest mass of exposed granite in the United States".

To ascend the mountain by is easiest route, the Cascading Couloir, one must be prepared to gain 8,300ft over what is often rugged, loose, exposed and remarkably beautiful terrain. Be advised, a minor slip or route finding error may have serious consequences.

Begin by parking at the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead. Hike up and over Longs Pass to the Horse Camp near Ingalls Creek. I reccomend staying here overnight.

EARLY the next morning head east out of camp until you see a trail leading to climbers left. It is marked with a cairn and begins ascending the meadow leading into the rockslide, which leads into Cascadian Couloir.

Hike the Couloir following a faint climbers path or climb over rock of varying degrees of difficulty until you reach the notch where you can view the Sherpa Glacier.

From there, gain the south side of the false summit (at climbers left) and pass over a series of enormous rock ribs until the true summit is in view. Traverse over to the summit by linking weaknesses in the mountain about 50-100 ft below the skyline. Once you arrive at the airy summit horn, allow the overwhelming sense of accomplishment, peace and serenity found there to flow through you, this step is essential.

Descend the way you came. Be very careful to retrace your route as descending the wrong coulior could potentially be disastrous. And give yourself plenty of time for the return trip since you have to cross over Longs Pass again.

DO NOT THROW ROCKS, Climbers are present below on ALL aspects of this mountain.

Pack List

  • Hiking stuff
  • An Ice Axe if any snow is present
  • Crampons if early in season.
  • More food and water than you think you will need.
  • Guide literature
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn



Easy Parking

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Great climb, challenging route-finding

One thing to add to this packing list: An alpine helmet should be considered mandatory on this climb at any time of the year. I completed this climb August 13 and there was very little snow present, but most climbers chose to use their crampons and ice axe on one 500-ft high snow field towards the false summit. Climbers should be comfortable with rock/boulder travel and have experience on similar class 3-4 climbs. Also, the Esmeralda Basin Trailhead does require a NW Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass, so plan accordingly, or be prepared to fill out a parking permit 3 miles before you reach the trailhead - bring cash!

about 1 month ago

Added by Tobin Akehurst

I am from the Pacific Northwest, where the mountains meet the sea. When I eschew the trappings of the modern world and venture into the mountains I feel as though I am revived by simplicity, renewed by the power of violent geography.

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Mount Catherine

Washington / Mount Catherine Trailhead

Start off on the extremely rough Forest Service 9070 road. Follow this for just over 4 miles until you see a sign for trail #1348 on the right.

Bryan Carroll
31 Saves

Hike to Gem Lake

Washington / Snow Lake Trailhead

The trail to Gem Lake lies along the same trail that passes by the incredibly popular Snow Lake.

Shelby Pothier
23 Saves

Hike to Elk Pass via "the Knife"

Washington / Snowgrass Flat Trailhead

This is a rather long out and back, however, it can also be done as a backpack, which would give you more time to explore the Goat Rocks Wilderness, which is highlighted in other Adventures.

Isaac Desautels
20 Saves