Another attempt at a rest weekend that resulted in being, well, comparatively restful. We decided that our main objective was to climb North Ingalls Peak via The 5.7 East Ridge. If time and energy allowed we would also climb the S Ridge, South Peak and East Peak.

The day promised to me warm when we began to walk the road to the Esmeralda Basin Trailhead 9Ingalls N Fork Road is closed a mile short of the Th at Iron Mountain). Clear skies and fun sun. Not my favorite and I hoped higher elevations would be cooler. Luckily, it was early in the morning so the real heat of the day was not yet present. It took us three hours to get from the TH to the camping area a mile away from Ingalls Lake. Not bad considering that we’d brought 2 ropes for the rappel and had a full rack of trad gear. There were lots of people camped or on the slabs, but we found a nice flat slab relatively far away from the others and set up camp. There are lots of goats in the area and they are pretty relentless visitors. They weren’t aggressively persistent though like others I have encountered.

With the tent set up we hung the rest of our overnight gear out of the goats reach and headed off for the climb. We followed the trail to a junction With Ingalls way and Ingalls Way Alt. We found out by trial and error that the alternative did not go to Ingalls Lake. We turned back and took the right intersection which did lead to the Ingalls Lake. I hadn’t been there in 4 years and I;d forgotten how beautiful it was with Ingalls Peaks in the backdrop on one side and Stuart in the other. There were throngs of folks around on this bright summer day and we didn’t linger. We had a mountain to climb away from the crowds!

We went up the easy to navigate slabs toward the 3 peaks. We then followed carins in a short, rocky gully with a few tricky stops on a 5ft headwall and access up the upper talus. Here we left the carins which headed up the the S Ridge Route and instead aimed for the Notch between the North and East Peaks. We crossed a few small snowfields and then entered the gully staying to left basically in a wide moat until we reached a small flatish area where we geared up. From here we scrambled up left  the obvious rock gully to the start of the first pitch of both SW Face of the East Peak and East Ridge of South Peak.

We really didn’t have a plan yet as to what summit(s) we would go for as I began to lead the first pitch. It is mostly class 3-4 which one or two easy class five moves. I think I placed 2 pieces and clipped into a small tree with a sling already on it. The Pitch end at a large and obvious chockstone and there of fixed slings on the big horn as well. It is advisable to extend the clove hitch though for belay as the anchor is around the corner which creates rope drag.

Once Damien joined me we had a decision to make. He belayed me out to take a look at  the SW Face Route of east Peak which is rarely done. It didn;t seem very clean. Due to this and the fact that it was already mid-afternoon we opted to go right to climbing the East Ridge of North Peak. Damien took the lead and I kiwi coiled the rope to 30 Meters for long simul-climb ahead.

We simul-climbed 3 pitches in total. These pitches were clas 3-low 5th class and stay on the ridge. I followed Damien up class 4 rock to a short class 5 hand traverse with only smearing for feet. Fun! Then we climbed onto the knife edge and around the right side of a pillar before down climbing another exposed edge. This was my least favorite part of the climb. The climb continues on fun class 4 very exposed rock along the ridge. Damien could have continued to lead to the bottom of the crux 5.7 move. But he stopped on a big ledge and belayed me in so I could lead another pitch. I traverse across some more class 4 exposed rock to the next belay spot under the crux. I might as well free soloed it since I found no place to out in pro. I felt secure though the whole time. After I belayed in Damien from a gear anchor I headed up the crux 5.7 move. It is marked by and awkward offwidth crack, no feet and a reachy move to a good hand hold more suited for a taller than my 5.5″. I spend a good amount of time trying to work out the sequence and tried to french free the move as well, but needed a second #4 silver camp for the offwidth crack which I did not have. I ended up passing the lead off to Damien who managed to free the move beautifully!

The climb to the summit after the crux is once again class 4-3. We unroped at the base of the summit block and climbed the final easy few feet solo. We didn;t stay too long though as it was early evening and we didn’t want to rappel in the dark. We walked around to the south side and easily found the two rap bolts a little off the left on the easy ledge. Here came the tricky part. We’d read that a double rope rappel was required so we tossed two ropes down. One was twin rope that always turns into a bird’s nest when tossed. In the havoc of untangling the mess as I rappelled I ended up taking an alternate more direct route to the base of the climb. However, there was no doubt the ropes would have gotten hung up once pulled and I still have to scramble a few yards to truly get to the bottom. Damien saw a few intermediate raps on the slab as he rappelled and re-tossed the ropes from there. He did one additional rappel to reach the bottom (single rope).

After meeting back up we packed up our gear and headed back down the talus and snow enjoying spectacular views of Mt Stuart in a orange evening glow. We didn’t get back to camp until after dark. The goats hadn’t disturbed anything to our relief. Watching headlamps of climbers on the routes of Mt Stuart we did our camp chores and had dinner. As we were preparing to turn in for the night the moon popped out from the horizon and it was red. I’d never seen something like that before. I did some research and found no explanation.

We decided that night that we would give the South Ridge of N Peak and South Peak a try the next morning since we were in the area. Hey why not? However, the S Ridge is a very popular and often crowded route so we had to rise early and beat everyone else there. We were walking by 4:00am.

Unlike the day before were were the only people resent when we passed Ingalls Lake and began to climb the talus as the sun illuminated the world of rock that surrounded us. We climbed through the talus and a snow field to reach the notch between North and South Ingalls Peak and roped up at the base of the climb on the lake side of Dog Crags. I lead the first pitch which begins as an easy class 4/5 joint to the upper slaps. There the class 5 climbing begins. The route takes the crack in the middle of the slab which seems tame at first glace. It does protect well, but the climbing is dicey. The key thing to remember on Ingalls is red/beige rock= grippy and greenish rock=slippery. This crack was basically made the the green/blue slippery rock and sometimes it was like climbing on glass. At least it protected well. I belayed Damien up from a huge boulder with multiple slings. From here there is some more easy class 4 to an optional anchor on another boulder before the start of another slab with a few crack options. The cracks looked intimidating from where we stood freezing in the surpriasing frigid weather even with every layer on. I decided to go up to the next anchor and get a closer look. As expected, upon closer inspection the middle 5.6 crack was clean and good, however, I’m not confident leading 5.6 pure crack yet. The left crack 5.4 option was made of the same glossy, glassy, slippery green rock, only steeper than what I’d just done. And to top it off on the top of the crack was a nice bulge. Ugh… not something I was hoping to see when I was freezing and on 4 hours of sleep and Damien was too tired to lead safely. I belayed him up to me and after some discussion we decided to rappel. We’d gotten the summit the day before and in our condition we couldn’t justify moving forward. But it had been fun playing on the mountain that morning. We did a single rope rappel to the bottom.

The Lake was still deserted when we reached it so we hung out there for a bit. While high on Ingalls it had been arctic, the day was getting rather hot down below. In fact, the entire hike out reminded me of last summer’s sweltering weather. I hope it cools down again soon!

 

 

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