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Finding Rhythm on a Ridgeline | Complete North Ridge of Mount Stuart w/ Gendarme

The dawn is brewing in the moist, cool, dew-thick air. None of the other dirtbag climbers have yet emerged from their truck bed capsule caves. We go through our morning routine in as much silence as we can muster, save for the closing of a car door and the hum of a stove boiling water. Anticipation bubbles over in step with the liter of water coming to life on the stove. We roll out of the forested pullout at five o’clock sharp; maté blazing hot in our little wooden gourd, dust billowing on the road behind us.

Once on the trail, we walk with purpose. There is no water on the route, so we stop frequently to drink what we have before reaching our last fill-up spot in the creek. Three miles in, we break from the main trail and follow a faint climbers trail into a neighboring drainage. Many fallen trees and overgrown undergrowth interrupt our path, but nonetheless we press onwards. Soon enough, we emerge into a boulder field, which flows from the base of our route to where we stand. Our line of travel is clear, and it is the first time Kane, my partner, has seen the North Ridge from this angle. Within an hour, we are at the base of the climb, getting ready to embark on this odyssey of a rock climb – also known as the Complete North Ridge of Mount Stuart.

This will be my second time on this route, and this time, I am back for redemption. Last time, I was suckered into climbing with a partner who was not adequately prepared for moving quickly in this type of terrain. Instead of cruising it like I had anticipated, I ended up guiding and pitching out the entire ridge – resulting in twenty-eight total pitches of climbing and an enormous lesson in patience, planning, and decision making. But this time, all the variables ha