OverviewThe "West Route" (as per Beckey) starts at the col between Dragontail and Colchuck Peaks and is sometimes referred to as the Colchuck Glacier Route since most parties approach the col from the north via Colchuck Glacier. Combined with a descent of the East Route back to Aasgard Pass, this makes for a very pleasant traverse of the mountain and round trip from Colchuck Lake.
ApproachFrom the south, the col may be approached via the Ingalls Creek Trail either from its trailhead accessed from US Highway 2, or via Longs Pass - Ingalls Way Trail - accessed from the end of the Teanaway Road south from Cle Elum, WA. This is certainly the long way - about 11 miles via the Ingalls Creek Trail and up Porcupine Creek or between 7 and 9 miles via Longs Pass and up Porcupine Creek.
CleElum District trails: Cle Elum Trails
From the north, the col is approached via the Colchuck Lake Trail and / or the Stuart Lake Trail reached from Leavenworth, WA. It is about 4.1 miles from the trailhead to Colchuck Lake. The junction of the Stuart Lake and Colchuck Lake trails is about 2.5 miles from the trailhead. From the junction, it is 1.6 miles to Colchuck Lake. The glacier is just above the lake.
Leavenworth District trails: Leavenworth
Route DescriptionFrom the col between Dragontail and Colchuck Peaks, ascend an easy gully (snow in early season, scree later) between Dragontail and Pandora's Box to a notch in the south summit ridge.
Crossing through this notch is an easy scramble when the snow is gone. However, in early season the notch is very steep on the east side and can even be corniced. Care, and probably a rope are in order here on early season ascents.
Past the notch, the route meets the South Route and ascends directly north to the summit on easy snow or scree, or one can continue up the ridge also without significant difficulty.
See the Colchuck Glacier Route for more information and photos of the glacier part of the route.
This Site has a trip report, map, and excellent photos of an early season climb of this route.
This Site has photos and a description of a late season climb of this route.
DescentDescend the route, or to complete a nice traverse, and round trip from Colchuck Lake, descend on easy slopes to the south and east to Aasgard Pass and descend from there back to the lake.
Essential GearIf climbing from the north or in early season - ice axe, crampons, and rope. Some parties may want some snow protection for the notch.
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