Started out as a normal dayhike, 0730 start. 1 hr 40 min. to Colchuck Lake, and 2 hours to the base of Aasgard. 4 hours total time to the top of Aasgard at ~7,800 feet, and then 6 hours total time to the top of Dragontail via the SE class 2 route, although I had several class 3 moves due to failing to follow the route exactly. Then the thunderstorm hit, right around the last 10 minutes to the summit. Stood on the summit with thunderclouds covering Mount Stuart, Dragontail, and the Enchantment Basin. On the way down a massive hailstorm joined the fray, making the snowfield descent significantly more dangerous, and 100% required an ice ax so I wouldn't roll all the way down to the tiny lake at the bottom. An electrifying experience, the storm made this one memorable! 5 hours return, 11 hours C2C.
Successful ascent of Colchuck and Dragontail via the Colchuck Glacier/Col and Dragontail West Ridge. Started ascending the col around 6:00am, snow was great with a thin soft layer over the firmer snow. It had been warm all week, but the snow stayed in pretty good shape. Topped out on the col around 8:00am, sticking right - it’s a bit steeper, but easier to get onto the dirt of the ridge. Picked out way up to Colchuck peak a little after 9:00am. The trail is a bit of a choose your own adventure but it’s not super hard route finding. Traverse the back side of the ridge, biasing upwards until you’re under the summit block. There are a few spots where you can scramble right up to the mouth of a gulley that drops all the way to the glacier below, so be a bit cautious. Took a break for a bit and headed back down to Banshee Pass. Hit the snow in the col headed up to Pandora’s box at 10:15 or so, right as the sun was starting to hit it. This is definitely the latest to be on it, once the snow gets super soft it’d be a miserable trip up. Beating the sun got us great kick stepping snow and we booted right up. The col looks pretty intimidating from below, but it gets less steep after the first section and is pretty short, nothing compared to what the Colchuck Col just was in distance. Took the scramble section from the col onto the ridge as the snow downclimb had been in full sun for awhile and was looking sketchy at this point in the season. The scramble seemed class 3 to me, with one class 4 move due to a pretty shear drop down the left side. Really good rock though so it never felt sketchy. Once you top out on the ridge there’s a 2.5 foot gap between two huge boulders to squeeze through to the other side of the ridge. Pretty neat how nature worked that one out for us! Worked along and down the ridge to the snow on the backside of Dragontail and across to the normal trail up. The snow was super soft here and I fell to my waist with both feet into a surprise rock well at one point - definitely the sketchiest spot. Steer clear of the rocks! Hit the summit of Dragontail right after noon. Trail back to Aasgard and out is pretty self explanatory. Aasgard does take a really long time to go down and was the surprise crux of the day. Just kitty litter the whole way slipping and sliding with the tantalizing lake below that never seems to get any closer.
Overall the route is in decent shape as long as you get there early before the sun hits the snow. I can’t predict how long it’ll stay in on the back side of Dragontail, since that gets the most sun. You can continue on the ridge the whole way potentially, but I can’t speak to that route since I didn’t take it. Lots of fun rock scrambling all day, the rock is great quality and there were a number of solid moves on both Colchuck and Dragontail.
15 miles, 15 hours, with 6500’ of elevation gain. Could be done faster for sure but we took our time a bit.
Ascended via west ridge (pandoras box). Very steep snow at the top of the box to downclimb, we were pretty gripped without second tools or a rope but made it work. My partner estimated it at roughly 60 degrees.
A lovely scramble in the enchantments with stellar views.
~10hrs c2c stuart lk TH
This was my second time up Dragontail. Combined it with Witches Tower to spruce things up a bit. This was my first time in the Enchantments in the middle of summer and dang was it busy. Got to the parking lot at 6AM and it was already overflowing down the road. After talking around and seeing where everyone was going, it turns out that the thru hike thing is crazy popular now with people parking cars at bother trailheads. Anyways, route is super straightforward as always. Lots of goats. Solid trail and rock all the way except for the super short snowfield section (read further to hear about a crazy story on this section). Views were dynamite as expected and good weather. Descended down and followed the east ridge towards Dragontail East. Right before the East summit, we dropped down a seriously steep rock. All scrambling combined with several low to mid-fifth moves. Will definitely get your hands a bit sweaty if you were in running shoes like us. The snow off to the side was almost vertical so I am not sure what the proper way is to descend. We encountered a couple of rappel slings on our descent to the base of Witches. The scramble up Witches Tower is easy.
From the top we saw someone fall while descending the snowfield off Dragontail. Truly scary to watch. It didn't look like they had an ice axe (or knew how to use one) since it looked like they were flailing their arms and legs into the snow trying to slow down. The slid a couple of times before eventually stopping about half way before the rocky bottom. Someone else (maybe a climbing partner) eventually made it over to them and helped them get out. The fall and "rescue" lasted over an hour. BRING AN ICE AXE. We were probably one of two groups on summit with an ice axe. Everyone else was an ultralight trail runner with trekking poles and nothing else.
Awesome area! Day hiked from Stuart/Colchuck Lake trailhead in 9 hours car-to-car. Hike to the lake is easy. Hike up Aasgard Pass is steep but there is a relatively good trail on the left side of the chute. Lots of goats were out! From the pass I climbed rock and snow near the ridge on the right. I used ice axe and micro spikes on the upper snow field as it is fairly steep and there were no boot tracks - this section went slowly. After the snow field the climb to the summit is easy. Also climbed a class 4/5 spire on top that looked like it might be higher than the other summits, but when I got to the top I realized it was not higher.
Climbed via the Colchuck Glacier and wanted to make a circuit down Aasgard, but opted for going back down snow (much less snow on Aasgard and didn't want to work hard on the descent). LOOONG day for just a single summit, but leg still healing from surgery in Feb. 10% chance of rain meant 100% chance of 10% strength (definite rain / snow from lake and up top). Snow consistently punchy early, mashed potatoes later - only deviation from this was some icy sections within the melt / refreeze of boot pack. Top was socked in but got a little sunnier on the downclimb. No goats, no other people on the route - good day in the Enchantments
The whole trip was in whiteout fog! The snow traverse was hard ice so ice axe and crampons were mandatory through that section. Moat at top of snow field which added some scrambling... was surprised that the summit block was such a walk up. Herd of goats on the summit made it interesting.
Made it up to the col that ascends to the summit ridge. We were unable to make it to the ridge because there was about 150 feet of steep ice (45+ degree) standing in the way. Not everyone had crampons and a fall would be a 300 ft slide on ice into the rocks below.
We saw over 100 people on the way back down Asgard Pass.
We had crap weather all day but managed a successful summit push during a weather window
Did this one as a day hike. Road is super easy to drive to Colchuck/Stuart TH. Trail is completely snow-free to Colchuck Lake. On and off snow around lake and up Aasgard Pass. The snow was pretty soft today, probably need to start pretty early as the days get warmer. Saw some skier on Colchuck Glacier. Ice axe highly suggested and traction (while probably optional) can be useful on snowfield to east ridge.
Best view I've ever had
Climbed up via Colchuck Glacier and summited both Colchuck and Dragontail, then descended via Asgard Pass back to my campsite on Colchuck Lake. I met two other climbers while ascending.
Standard route via Aasgard. Early morning snow was firm enough that I was glad to have my axe. After Dragontail I dropped down past Aasgard about 2/3 of a mile to check out the upper basin. From here I decided I had enough gas for Little Annapurna. After getting to the top of Little A I headed back down into the basin, then back up to Aasgard, then down (after jumping in Colchuck Lake). I'm sure there was a quicker way to get back to Aasgard, but why rush in a place like the Enchantments?
All told I think the elevation gain was about 7000', making this one of my biggest day hikes so far.
Great climb as part of a 5 day thru-hike of the Enchantments. Took about 1.5 hours to reach the top from our camp at Tranquil Lake. Ice axes are mandatory this time of year, with microspikes/crampons being a useful addition (we made do without by kicking steps). The scramble from the ridge is way easier than we expected; definitely class 2, not class 3. Mediocre views due to cloud cover, but still worth the effort.
Planned for Dragontail and Witches Tower but almost decided to stop after Witches Tower because of thick clouds. A small break in the clouds gave us some hope so we headed for Dragontail via the Little Annapurna snow col. Limited visibility there but good enough, made the top and got partial view, the weather was beautiful the rest of the day. Long and hard day but so worth it.
From the top of Colchuck col.
Via the west route from Colchuck Col.
10.5 hours car to car with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. Some of our crew used crampons others just hiking boots. Definitely going to come back and camp at the lake next time for the sunrise/sunset.