Since then, Jeff has made Stuart his mountain, with 2/4 successes on the upper North Ridge, and a trip on the West Ridge. Glenn also did the West Ridge in 2006, with a strong team that finished cleanly in good time, arriving at Ingalls Creek right at dark.
So as we talked, it seemd logical to team up to finally finish the complete ridge. We have both had great trips with Karen Natzel, who was on Jeff's last Standard North Ridge trip, so she was the obvious 3rd team memmber, and her climbing partner Sarah Raff completed a strong team. Success seemed assured, if weather cooperated.
And it did - the 20% chance of a thunderstorm only indicated that temps were moderating from the previous blistering weekend, that would have wiped us out on the approach. Two 5-minute miniscule sprinkles was all we ever got - not enough to dampen the rock or our spirits.
Oh what a climb! We will all treasure this one in our memories for the rest of our lives.
The lower half holds the most challenging, sustained, and steep climbing, the upper the finest exposed ridge position, on solid clean granite throughout. The length demands the full range of alpine rock skills: efficient movement, fast anchor and belay changeovers, efficient simulclimbing, 4 well-planned pack hauls, and ruthless gear paring. Both sections have classic old-school 5.9 pitches: pitch 3 on the lower, a long smooth shallow-angle diedral and tricky finger crack, and the Great Gendarme on the upper, with a classic overhung lieback and a burly vertical arm-bar off-width.
Jeff and Glenn both passed the heady lead test (except once again Glenn takes two falls on the lower crux pitch - this time without the excuse of foolishly trying to lead it with a pack on!) Sarah, whose experience was a bit higher than Glenn on his first attempt, nevertheless made a big leap forward, and handled the climb with ease and enthusiasm. Karen captured all the style points - both in movement and clothing.