Ingalls Peak

July 19, 2019


Teanaway River / Enchantment Area, WA

Ingalls Peak locates right next to the much bigger and more popular Mt. Stuart but because of the short approach and the excellent climbing oppourtunities this peak somehow has escaped the doom of being overshadowed. The easiest route, south ridge on the main peak offers a classic intro-level alpine climbing route – 5.4 or 5.6 depends on the crack system you choose. This is a “type I fun” kind of climb that should be on every climber’s list. I’m however, not a typical “type 1 fun” kind of climber so trips like this are never on my priority list, but an ascent of Ingalls Peak does serve well when I’m lack of energy, time and/or motivation. The weather has been good recently but knowing I’d be going into Mt. Sampson area for a few days starting on Saturday I wanted to do something short and fun on Friday, and Ingalls Peak seemed like the right objective. For such a classic climb it’s pretty easy to find partner(s) and this time, Natasja decided to join me. Natasja has already climbed Ingalls Peak last year but wouldn’t mind to repeat.

To shorten my drive I decided to head down south on Thursday evening and sleep in my truck. I didn’t leave Vancouver until 10 pm and made to Bellevue at midnight. It was pouring hard and I double-checked the weather forecast to make sure the trip would still go, and to my surprise it still showed perfect weather for Mt. Stuart area, so I found a local mall and slept in my truck. The next morning Natasja picked me up at 6 am and we had a luxurious breakfast in Issaquah Cafe. The weather was very cloudy but the sky magically cleared as we drove to near Cle Elum. The Teanaway River Road was in a rough shape by Washington standard but imposed no problem to Natasja’s vehicle.

Ingalls Peak via South Ridge. GPX DL

Natasja volunteered to carry her juicy 9.5 mm 70 m rope while I carried the trad gears that were much lighter, and up the trail we went. This was one trip that I could finally skip mountaineering boots and snow gears all together. I wore trail runners and carried rock shoes and that’s it. There’s not much worth documenting about the switchbacks up to Ingalls Pass other than it seemed to drag on forever. The weather was clear, but cold and windy that once we crested the pass we had to don all the layers we brought. It felt more like October than July which actually seemed like the norm in this year… The next stage was several kilometers’ plod to Ingalls Lake and believe it or not, we still had a (maintained) trail to follow. The trail was in an excellent shape taking in consideration of the roughness of the terrain, but had fair amount of annoying up-and-downs.

Starting the hike.

Long, boring plod towards Ingalls Pass

Just another photo to show Natasja plodding ahead

Looking back at Esmeralda Peaks

Almost at Ingalls Pass

A closer look at Ingalls Peak from Ingalls Pass

Neat treeline meadows on the plod towards Ingalls Lake

Another look at our objective – Ingalls Peak

Me at Ingalls Lake. Photo by Natasja Y.

Once making to Ingalls Lake we turned left (west) heading for the high col south of the main peak. This section was probably the most annoying part because of the loose rocks and route-finding. Several hundred meters of elevation must be gained on mostly class 2 terrain. Near the end of the scrambling stretch we could see a party-of-two was ahead on the route. At the high col I naturally went around to the west side and scrambled some class 3 but chossy rock to gain the next col, and by doing so we managed to skip the first pitch of climbing. The short 2nd pitch looked nothing harder than “class 3” so we opted to solo and it sure was no harder than class 3. Now at the base of the real 5th class pitch we had caught up with Kiley and Clark. Clark went to lead the 5.6 variation and watching him cruising up the pitch I decided to do the 5.6 crack instead of chickening out on the 5.4 corner.

Natasja starting the scrambling stretch

Taking a break with Mt. Stuart as a backdrop

Scrambling up this obvious gully with Ingalls Lake behind

More about Natasja scrambling on blocky terrain

At this point Clark from the other group had already made to the top of Pitch 1

Natasja still scrambling up

At the base of our objective now. Looking ahead

For some reasons I went over the notch to the west side

We then found a loose but 3rd class only route to bypass the first pitch

It was windy and cold so time to add layers…

Clark following the second pitch

I soloed it and this is looking down at Clark and Natasja scrambling PItch 2

Now it’s my turn to lead. The first few moves after getting into the crack felt pretty hard because I pretty much had never climbed a crack prior to this trip but there were plenty of decent foot placements in or around the crack, so I never had to use any real crack climbing technique. After about 20 meters into the game I had caught the flow and had no problem cruising to the belay station. At this point Kiley from the other team had already reached the next anchor near the summit and judging by the length of that pitch, and the fact we had a 70 m rope I decided to combine the two pitches into one. I still had two cams with me and the terrain seemed pretty straightforward. In the end Natasja and I did only one (long) pitch instead of 4 pitches. The final scramble to the true summit was easy 3rd class and on the summit we were joined by two guides coming up from the east ridge, which looked fun as well.

Clark leading the 5.6 pitch

The belay station action.

Clark halfway up the 5.6 pitch of slab/crack

After a while Clark reached the top of crux pitch

Halfway up the 5.6 pitch, looking down

Natasja scrambling up to the summit

Summit Panorama from Ingalls Peak. Click to view large size.

A closer look at Mt. Stuart

Another party nearing the top of the east ridge route

The east ridge climber with Mt. Stuart behind

Natasja and I on the summit of Ingalls Peak

We spent at least half an hour on the summit because we weren’t in a rush. On the descent the four of us decided to team up to speed the rappels. I led the first rappel on the other team’s 60 m rope while carrying our 70 m rope, and while the others rappelling down to the intermediate station I managed to set up the second rappel (which required a 70 m rope to complete). The rope barely reached the ledge. After the four of us had all come down the technical pitch we opted to down-scrambled the 3rd class terrain and then did an additional rappel to get off Kiley and Clark’s first pitch. I thought about just down-scrambling the route Natasja and I took but rappelling was fun anyway. There was still a bit of 3rd class down-climbing after the last rappel.

Scrambling down the tricky summit block

Kiley walking off easy terrain towards the rappels

The east ridge party on the first rappel.

Clark coming down the second rappel

Natasja on the Rappel #2

Kiley on the same rappel

Kiley finishing the second rappel

Easy 3rd class down-scrambling between rappels

Clark going down the 3rd rappel

Kiley on the 3rd rappel

Natasja down-climbing more 3rd class while Clark pulling the rope behind

It’s Clark’s turn to down-scramble the 3rd class beneath the rappels

The scramble down to Ingalls Lake required some route-finding. We didn’t pay enough attention and got off-route into some pretty big boulder fields that were pretty awful. Once down to the lake the rest of the way back to the parking lot was a pure slog that seemed to drag on and on and on…

There’s still one snow gully to cross

Ingalls Lake and Mt. Stuart, what a classic scene

Natasja scrambling down blocks and slabs

Natasja, Ingalls Lake and Mt. Stuart

Panorama of Ingalls Lake. Click to view large size.

Hiking back across towards Ingalls Pass

Mt. Stuart

The boring hike down from Ingalls Pass

One last photo of the hike down from Ingalls Pass. It was hot and miserable.

Our round trip time was 7.5 hours which was pretty standard for this climb. I felt this was not as difficult as I was expecting but I would definitely agree with its classic standard. If not because of the long drive I would for sure recommend more Vancouver-based climbers to go there but the drive is indeed a long one. Natasja and I had a dinner in Issaquah’s Panera Bread and then I pushed the rest of the way back to Vancouver, arriving at 9 pm. I had to rush hard for buying/preparing food, repacking, taking a shower etc., and didn’t go to bed until 1:30 am. The alarm was set at 4 am and then it’s time to drive to Pemberton and explore Mt. Sampson area.