KIM AND I BOTH GOT INTO A BIT OF TROUBLE ON THIS CLASSIC ROUTE...
On the landscape of the West Ridge, Kim's figure is tiny...
In September of 1991, Kim and I figured we were good enough climbers to do the classic West Ridge of Mt Stuart. We were, but just barely. We hiked in and camped just past Ingalls Lake where we had a good source of water. We were up and climbing in the dim morning light before the sun came up. The main idea is to stay as close as possible to being on the West Ridge but easier looking routes in the great canyons and below the rocky towers made it hard to stay with the plan.
After getting past Long John Tower the route pops out onto the north side for a short stretch. I saw where it ducked back to the south side but Kim, a ways behind me, missed the turn. I got out to a good rest spot ready to scramble up the next wall but no Kim. After a few minutes here he came looking a bit shaken up.
"You go ahead. I'll wait for you here."
You don't downclimb the West Ridge so this was not feasible... so how to get Kim's confidence back up to complete the climb. The next short cliffy section didn't warrant a rope but I insisted that he rope up and I would belay him up this section. This was all it took and Kim's confidence was soon back. We unroped and he forged ahead.
After another hour of mixed climbing we came to the crux, at least for me, just below the summit. It was a crack system about 30
feet high that Kim immediately tackled and soon had mastered as he disappeared from sight. I started up and got to just below the last move and I was in trouble. I had gotten myself spread-eagled with both hands spread far apart on the wall above me. It only takes a couple of minutes for your arms to tire out in this position and I called for Kim to, "Bring the rope!"
But he was out of earshot so I was feeling desperate and decided my only solution was to hope my left hand hold was good enough to support me as I shifted my weight to the left and reached out with my right hand for a hold near my left hand. It worked! I didn't peel off and soon had improved my position enough to reach for the top of the last block above me and was soon on top none the worse for wear.
"Why didn't you give me... oh never mind", as I decided to drop the matter and enjoy the summit views.
We enjoyed our late lunch and decided to descend via Ulrich's Couloir to speed things up. This required several rappels and may not have saved us much time as we reached the trail at the bottom just as the sun was getting ready to set.
It was a great climb with both of us getting into a bit of trouble but managing to work it out.