Quite the littany of flexibility on this one. Plans changed numerous times. Originally was going to meet up Saturday evening with friends Mark/Natasha and Chris/Shauna. They were each going to do Serpentine Arrete in two teams and I was going to do Colchuck and Dragontail via Colchuck Glacier. I got a late start out of Portland and didn't get to the trailhead until almost 11 pm so I opted to crash in the truck and start at first light.
Got going about 4:30 am at the same time as another party of 3 who slept at the trailhead too. Made Colchuck Lake by about 6:30 or so. Had been on the walkie talkie to try to contact my friends all the way in but no response and never saw them on the route. Ran into them at their tents by the lake. They had started up much earlier and the weather window they needed never opened. By the time I got there though the weather was clearing so they decided to hike up to the lakes basin. I opted to enjoy the trail with them instead of the glacier. Lots of laughs all the way up.
At the Pass we headed to the lakes for a bit and ran into a very curious goat. I departed for the glacier while they then headed east for a hike. Scrambled up and over a few minor ridges. Be careful on these if you do so, I slipped on a polished slab and rode a 45 degree rock down about 30 feet hoping I wouldn't turn an ankle.
Luckily I didn't and I then started up the glacier. Pretty slushy by this time of day (about 11 am). Went mostly straight up until the top, then did a switchback to gain the saddle. Ditched the axe and crampons and scrambled up to the summit. Knew I would be late getting back home to Portland so opted to descend the same route instead of downclimb to Colchuck. Hiked out with Chris and Shauna.
Back at the trailhead as I rubbed my feet and moaned, I ran into the group that departed a few minutes before me that morning. They had done the 10 mile hike into Prusik, did the South Arrete route as a team of 3, and hiked out in the same amount of time (about 15 hours) as it took me o Dragontail. I quickly shut up as I knew I had just gone from long, tough dayclimber to wuss in like 15 seconds.
Still don't think I'd recommend this as a dayhike although it certainly can be done as one. Just made for another late night drive home for me. Hit my bed about 2:30 am but still glad I did it as it was great to hang with friends and get a peak in.
Slow group, made even slower by initial route-finding difficulty. While descending, group above kicked down a grapefruit that landed on my pack, about an inch or so behind my helmeted noggin, smashing my compass into bits... It's on the list for this summer...
Partners: John Middleton & Allan Thousteinson.
Joe Hahler & Ruth Martin were on a separate rope team.
Stay left on final pitches to hit the big exit ledge...critical...it looks like you should go to the right, but that traps you under the big roofs of the summit towers & moves must be reversed. I still fondly remember a wonderful pitch of chickenheads warmed by the sun.
Minimal pro: #1 & #2 Camalots, 2-3 Friends, 2 Tech Friends, several stoppers. Plus helmet! This was my first multi-pitch alpine rock climb & I'll never, ever forget it...as well as the 1st time I had ever been exposed to serious rockfall (no one was hit). From talking later to another party, who had experienced the same thing in what we agreed upon was the "Death Gully", we all may have been slightly off-route. Beckey terms this route "distinctly sporting."
Roped up at 7:45 am...summitted 7:30 pm...& that was with all 5 of us. Descent via Aasgard Pass.
Climbed with Phil Dyment who was living in Ellensburg then. We went light; car to car in 16 hours. The 80 foot long 5.9 offwidth in the middle may have a couple of 5.9 moves but it's reputation far exceeds it's bite. Don't be afraid, it's easy. The wet rock down low was harder. The finishing pitches on the fin were wild. Very beautiful area.
Pete and I did this walk-up in howling wind and blue skies. I thought we'd get blown off, but by the time we got near the top the winds died down some. Awesome scenery from the top. Dark clouds to the west moving east chased us back to the truck the next day.
Got lost in the dark on the approach - lots of bushwacking; missed the last bridge that led to some dicey creek crossings via icy logs. Good climb with several pitchs of veneer ice plastered over granite, plus several pitches of neve; sustained climbing of 50-70 degrees for entire route; outstanding exposure that really made the climb worthwhile. Great glissade down Asgard pass to Colchuck Lake - beats walking. Horrendous hike out in soft snow - numerous plunges to chest height while crossing the boulder field below Colchuck Lake. Simul soloed entire route with partner - car to car in 12 hours.
Great Weather, Great Company, Great mountains,
Though a tiring one day trip.
1976 with Monica Spicker.
1985 with Jim Spearman and a Spokane Mountaineers group.
Approach via Colchuck Glacier and descent via Aasgurard Pass - both trips.
After camping at Colchuck Lake Saturday night, hiked up Aasgard Pass and ran into pretty steep, solid snow on permanent snowfield that is the Snow Creek Glacier. We were able to chop steps to the top (about 100' from the bottom)--Pretty slow going. Summitted at 1:30. A beautiful, clear sunny day with views South to Adams, North to Baker, West to the Olympics, and East to the Columbia Plateau.
We decided decent via the ascent route would be too dangerous given the snow conditions, so we traversed the S ridge of peaks, decended into the Upper Enchantments Basin, and hiked back over Aasgard and out.
Once again it was a perfect day for high wandering on the rim of the Enchantment basin. We ascended the slopes south of Brynhild Lake and upon achieving the ridge traversed west and north to the south ridge of Dragontail. We stayed on the summit for a rather long time enjoying the early September sunshine and the magnificent views of Colchuck Peak, Mt. Stuart, Mt. Rainier, the western peaks of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and north to Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker.
After being snowed on two nights before, the weather was gorgeous on this day and we set out to climb Dragontail up the Snow Creek Glacier above Aasgard Pass. The snow was perfect for climbing and for the eventual glissade back toward our camp near Freya Lake. The summit views were spectacular on a perfectly clear day as we could easily see Mt. Adams to the south, almost in Oregon, and Mt. Baker to the north, almost in British Columbia.