A few days after I got home from my 2 months traveling around the United States in my Subaru and photographing birds (a hobby of mine quite a bit different from climbing, click here to see photos from my amazing birding roadtrip!), my friend Douglas emailed asking if I was ready to take a break from the Ornithology. I happily put down the telephoto lens and packed my climbing gear, and headed off to meet Douglas and my cousin in Leavenworth, where we planned to do a few days of climbing. The weather was great, the snow-capped views were spectacular, the company was great, and the three peaks we climbed were fun early season adventures. This page gives some photos from the three peaks we climbed in the beautiful Enchantments.
June 24 - Colchuck Peak (8,705 ft) and Dragontail Peak (8,840 ft)
ROUTE: Stuart Lake Trailhead --> Colchuck Lake --> Colchuck Glacier --> Colchuck Pass --> Colchuck Peak --> Colchuck Pass --> Dragontail Peak --> Aasgard Pass --> Colchuck Lake --> Stuart Lake Trailhead TIME: 13 hours car to car, relaxed pace ELEVATION GAIN: 6110 ft (5270 ft from trailhead to summit of Colchuck + 840 ft from Colchuck Col to summit of Dragontail) WHO: Lisa, Doug, Steph
The route. We ascended Colchuck Glacier to Colchuck Col, climbed Colchuck Peak, then traversed around the south side of Dragontail Peak to the summit, and then descended back to the trail via Aasgard Pass. The route was mostly easy slogging up or across snowfields and stony slopes - a great early-summer adventure with great views!
6am start of the hike up from the Stuart Lake Trailhead towards Colchuck Lake.
A short break while ascending Colchuck Glacier to Colchuck Col.
An easy traverse along the south side of the ridge from Colchuck Col to the summit of Colchuck Peak just 25 minutes west of the col. (Dragontail Peak in background, our next destination of the day.)
Panoramic view to the west of the Mt. Stuart massive from the summit of Colchuck Peak.
Ascending a snowfinger from Colchuck Col to the notch just left of Pandoras Box on the south side traverse of Dragontail Peak.
Me (Steph) bouldering around Pandoras Box. I wanted to climb it, maybe if we'd had more than a single nut with us for the 5.10ish crack and roof….
The easy snow traverse on the south side of Dragontail Peak. There was a steep section of snow right after the notch near Pandoras Box, but after this it was all smooth sailing.
On the summit of Dragontail.
The Enchantment Basin with early-season snowcover.
Descending from Aasgard Pass back down to Colchuck Lake. There were a few snowfields that made the descent faster, but as usual, the descent from Aasgard Pass was loose and uncomfortable on the knees, but it was over with relatively quickly.
June 26 - Colchuck Balanced Rock (8,200 ft)
ROUTE: Stuart Lake trailhead --> Colchuck Lake --> Gully up to NW Ridge of Colchuck Balanced Rock --> NORTHWEST RIDGE OF COLCHUCK BALANCED ROCK --> Gully back down to Colchuck Lake --> Stuart Lake Trailhead TIME: 12 hours car to car, relaxed pace ELEVATION GAIN: 4760 ft from trailhead to summit WHO: Doug, Steph
Our route: Approach from the E side of Colchuck Lake, ascending the obvious gully to the notch above Jaberwocky Tower. Climb toward the NW Ridge (Class 3) and move along the sharp ridge (5.6) to the summit. The final balanced rock on top is a bouldiering problem. Descent: single rap down the east face, then scramble talus and broken rock slopes around to the saddle on the south side and back to Jaberwocky Tower, then back down to Colchuck Lake. The climb was a fun adventure with more great views!
Colchuck Balanced Rock (you can see the balanced rock - a super-exposed boulder problem - perched on top) as seen from Colchuck Lake. Due to the fact that the peak juts right up from the lake, from here the balanced rock looks so tiny and distant.
Ascending the gully to the NW Ridge. We came through the notch just south of Jaberwocky Tower seen behind Doug in the photo.
View of Dragontail and Colchuck (which we had climbed 2 days previous) from the approach up the gully.
The dead snag marking the beginning of the steeper climbing (5.6) just below reaching the NW Ridge. The NW Ridge was a few more pitches of low Class 5 to 5.6.
Climbing around the west side from the NW ridge just under the summit.
The boulder problem on the balanced rock on the top. We did the math and came to a startling conclusion: COLCHUCK BALANCED ROCK - BALANCED ROCK = COLCHUCK. Hmm….looks like we climbed the same peak twice!
Sketchy anchor just below the balanced rock on the summit. We made a single 25m rappel off this anchor down the east side of Colchuck Balanced Rock before scrabling the rest of the way down.
Rapping down the east side of Colchuck Balanced Rock.
Dragontail, Colchuck, and Stuart from near the summit of Colchuck Balanced Rock.
The descent involved a single rap down the east face, then scrambling talus and broken rock slopes around to the saddle on the south side and back to Jaberwocky Tower, then back down to Colchuck Lake.
More on my website
This trip report is copied from my website, which has several other climbing trip reports and photographs from the North Cascades and elsewhere: http://www.stephabegg.com.