Northeast Buttress of Colchuck Peak
The route involves crossing a pocket glacier and descending the Colchuck Glacier, both of which can be very icy late in season, which we found out first hand. I now understand how a father and son climbing team perished on the Colchuck Glacier a couple of summers ago.
This route is one of the best alpine rock climbs I have done, especially at the grade. Certainly the equal of Stuart's famous North Ridge and the better of many others. This route will stand out in my mind for years to come.
Do it in a day
We got an early start from the Mountaineer's Creek trailhead and made quick time to the far end of Colchuck Lake. We hiked up the moraine to find pretty slabs, waterfalls and alpine heather below the pocket glacier. For those taking two days to do this route and are willing to carry over or back track a bit, this spot would be a sublime place to camp. We also found a cervical collar, a self inflating sleeping pad, and a belay parka. We surmised they had been blown here by a helocopter during a rescue on Serpentine Arete earlier in the summer.
Once through the pink dyke we found delightfully solid rock with good cracks that took us to the large fourth class ledge system leading left below the ridge crest. We simu-climbed the ledge system and set up a belay below a tricky looking section leading to an inside corner. This was the crux for us, climbing steep, smooth rock before able to blindly place a cam in a hortizontal crack.
The descent was familiar, but the icy nature of the lower Colchuck Glacier was sketchy. I had chosen to wear light boots and aluminum crampons while Aaron opted for steel crampons on his approach shoes. I'm not sure who had the better idea, but Aaron's descent on the skiiers right margin of the glacier looked like a better choice than the left side which I took.
The tiring plod down the scree and talus of the moraine brought us to the trail and back to the car. All in all a tiring 14 hour trip with a super partner.