Prusik Peak is a clean, solid granite icon nestled into the Enchantments. It’s mere presence will make anyone a shameless shutterbug, and views from the top are even better. The Enchantment basin is a peaceful and unique setting for this memorable climb. The area embraces an alpine desert-like ambience coupled with many lakes at different levels and a variety of peaks including Little Annapurna, Dragontail Peak and Mt. Stuart.
The majority of the climbs are done on the south face and the west ridge. The south face offers a number of 5.9 multi-pitch routes, where-as the west ridge is a pleasing low fifth class route with a few 5.6-5.7 sections. Prusik Peak’s spot amongst the Stuart Range makes for ideal rock climbing conditions. Once carved by ancient glaciers, it is now glacier free, and the area is very dry during the climbing season because of it’s eastern location from the Cascade Crest.
Prusik Peak and the Enchantments are a popular destination, though the area is fragile. Fires have devastated the Icicle Creek environment, and concern for the overuse of the lakes has resulted in a limited access policy. Respect the rules. Stay on trails, stay off of vegetation, pack it in-pack it out.
Prusik Peak and the Enchantments are part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness located within the Wenatchee National Forest. Two approaches of almost equal caliber are possible. From US 2, on the west outskirts of Leavenworth, turn South on Icicle Creek road. After a few miles the road heads west toward the mountains and alongside Icicle creek. Look for the Snow Lakes trail parking lot on the left for the Snow Lakes approach. The second option is the Aasgard Pass approach. For this, proceed further up Icicle Creek past Eightmile Campground, then turn left onto road 7601 / Bridge Creek Campground. Pass the campground over a bridge and up a dirt road for approximately four miles to a switchback. Look for the trail 1599 Lake Stuart / Colchuck Lake.
SNOW LAKES APPROACH. This approach is long and steady, but gains a lot of elevation. The trailhead is at 1300’ and you gain about 5500’ over approximately 9 miles before reaching the upper lakes at the base of Prusik Peak, and another mile to the climbs. It is a long straight shot while carrying a rack and overnight gear, but rewarding when you come around the first corner in full view of Prusik to the north of the trail.
AASGARD PASS APPROACH. This approach is about the same distance, 10 miles, but starts higher. The trailhead is around 3400’, although Aasgard pass is a grueling 1.5 mile section, and after topping out you have to descend approximately 700’ down to the base of Prusik Peak and the climbs.
From the trailhead, follow trail 1599 Lake Stuart / Colchuck Lake trail for 2 1/2 miles to the split. Take a left toward Colchuck Lake up switchbacks for about 1 1/2 miles. Proceed around the west side of the lake toward Colchuck and Dragontail Peak. The trail then ascends to the left of Dragontail Peak to Aasgard Pass at 7800’ after 2 miles. Descend into the Enchantment Lakes for almost 3 miles to the base of Prusik Peak located north of the trail.
MAPS. Green Trails built a map specifically for the Enchantments, get this one.
Overnight Wilderness permits are required to camp in the Enchantments area from May 15 through October 31. The permit price is $5 per person per day and includes a parking pass for the duration of the trip. Day trip permits are required from May 15 through October 15. They are free and are self issued at the trailheads.
Overnight permits are limited, so reservations are strongly recommended. They can be made by mail beginning March 1 or may be purchased from the Leavenworth Ranger Station starting April 1. Reservations may be made for 75% of the permits issued per day for the Enchantments area. The remaining 25% are available to walk-ins. The walk-in quota is available as a drawing starting at 7:45 a.m. each morning at the Leavenworth Ranger Station the day of the trip.
The quota for the Enchantment Lakes is 15 people by reservation and 5 through the walk-in drawing. Quotas are also applied to Colchuck Lake-3 parties by res. / 1 party by drawing; Stuart Lake-4 parties by res. / 1 party by drawing; Snow/Nada Lakes-4 parties by res. / 1 party by drawing; Eightmile/Caroline Lakes-5 parties by res. / 5 parties by drawing.
It’s possible to catch the tail end of the climbing season for Prusik Peak during the last few weeks of October after permit requirements have halted.
Be aware of these other special considerations. Campfires are prohibited everywhere above 5,000 feet and within 1/2 mile of Nada, Eightmile, and Little Eightmile Lakes. Dogs are prohibited throughout the permit area. Camp in designated or established campsights. Stay on trails or walk on rocks. Do not trample vegetation. Fishing is available at the lakes with a valid Washington State fishing license. Pack it in-pack it out.
Obtain permits at the Leavenworth Ranger Station
600 Sherbourne Leavenworth, WA 98826 (509) 548-6977
Or go to Wenachee National Forest and click on permits.
The climbing season is typically from May through October. The Snow Creek parking lot is accessible year round, but Icicle Creek Road closes a few miles past that during the late Fall through Winter preventing access to the Aasgard Approach. Openings and closures depend on snow depths and conditions.
Camping is available but limited. See under Red Tape for camping quotas and fees. All the climbs are accessed from the upper Enchantment Lakes, mainly from between Perfection Lake and Lake Viviane. Camp spots can be found around this beautiful area. If you are forced to camp at Colchuck or Snow Lakes due to quotas, the approach to the climbs from those lakes work, though I would suggest picking Snow Lakes.
Any time you enter the mountains, you enter a mountain environment that can stir up unexpected and unfavorable conditions. Be prepared.
For weather reports call (206) 464-2000 (category 9904 and 9908) or go to National Weather Service and On The Snow
Contact the Leavenworth Ranger Station at (509) 548-6977
Click here for an ‘almost live’ web cam of snow creek.
Click here to get snow and avalanche conditions.