This trip was doomed from the start. After getting out of Portland fairly early on Friday afternoon a major accident blocked I-5 for over three hours and we were forced to make an extended pit-stop in Chehalis, WA. After refueling at the neighborhood Kit Carson's (yum :/) we were on our way once again but needed to make another stop in Seattle to pick up Lila's Velcro Miura's which she had left at Equinox the week before (that's a whole other story! Thanks Benjit, Patrick, and Andrew!). After getting a little bit lost (of course) we managed to find her shoes and be on our way to Leavenworth. With the pit-stop and Seattle detour total travel time was 8.5 hours! We rolled into the Stuart Lakes trailhead parking lot at exactly midnight. After racking up we didn't get to sleep until about 1 a.m.
The 3:45 alarm came all too early but we managed to rally and get on our way. All things considered the approach and beginning of the climb went pretty well. We were probably a bit sluggish from the lack of sleep but we managed to make pretty good time through the crux offwidth pitch. Just as I finished this pitch a few rain drops began to fall. I wasn't too worried at first but the clouds continued to build and the thunder and lightning began as Lila was leading the next pitch. From here things started to escalate as the storm became more intense and the rain turned to hail. We did what most people would do at this point: we bailed. We were bummed to have to leave some gear but made it safely back to the ground.
At this point we were super exhausted from the excitement and lack of sleep, and we hadn't brought any bivy gear or extra food, so we headed off back down to the car. There was no way we were going to repeat the 4 a.m. wake-up-call for another attempt the next day so we threw in the towel for the weekend.
Both of us were out of town the next weekend so we had to wait two full weeks to get our revenge. This weekend started off much better as we took the east-side route up through Yakima and managed the drive in five hours flat. We made sure to double check the forecast as well and it was calling for perfect weather all weekend. Yes! We set the alarm early once again as there were plenty of cars in the lot and we were certain some other parties must be planning on the same climb.
There was one slight moment of panic as I woke up and realized my alarm hadn't gone off. One party snuck out ahead of us (they thankfully woke me up on their way by) but otherwise we beat everyone else out of the parking lot. We hurriedly finished packing and gulped down some bagels and water and were on our way. I'm not sure what time we left the lot but I'm guessing around 5:30. We ended up passing the other party on the trail and they were in fact heading for the same climb. We motored on up to the lake and up to the base of the ridge both commenting on how much better we felt after actually sleeping.
When we arrived at the base no one else was in sight. I was amazed but we had the whole route to ourselves (the other party "got lost" and couldn't find the base. I'm not sure how that happens but they did the Serpentine Arete instead.)
We made good time simul-climbing up to the pitch below the offwidth and managed to re-claim some of the slings we has used to rap off of last time. When we arrived at the base of the offwidth the two nuts we had used to rap off of were still there! This got us excited because if the two at the bottom were still there then the two at the top would be there too (and so on..). It turns out we were able to get back just about everything we had left on the route last time. This was the first time I had ever booty-ed my own gear!
From here we continued on up the ridge. To make a long story short we did about three more pitches above the offwidth then simul-climbed all the way to the top of the chossy-death-gully that gets you on to The FIn. Overall the ridge itself has quite a a bit of loose rock and moss. I can't say I was too impressed with the climbing (except for a few sections like the offwidth) up to this point, and the pitch getting onto The Fin is horrendous. But the rock and exposure from this point on more than make up for the bottom part of the route. The four pitches on The Fin are super fun, mostly 5.7/5.8 with a couple harder moves, on clean (relatively) white rock. Great stuff!
We topped out about 8 p.m. and hung out on the summit for a while taking photos and devouring the massive chocolate bar that Lila had hauled up the whole route. It was going to get dark soon so we needed to be on our way. The descent is pretty straight forward but involves descending a fairly steep snow slope for several hundred feet and we had neglected to bring crampons or ice-axes (we were well equipped with running shoes). We did a couple of raps off snow bollards until the angle eased enough for us to feel a little more comfortable and we made our way down to the top of Aasgard Pass. The rest of the descent was uneventful but seemed to take forever as everything slows down when it's dark.