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#1147642 - 03/28/16 01:52 PM [TR] Colchuck Peak - NBC 3/27/2016
geosean Offline
n00b

Registered: 06/04/14
Posts: 45
TRs: 10 Photos: 23
Loc: Bellingham
Trip: Colchuck Peak - NBC

Date: 3/27/2016

Trip Report:
We were planning to do the NBC but the weather forecast for Sunday wasn't great so we lost some motivation on the approach. A logistical issue with our stove fuel also ruled out doing the route, so we skinned up the Colchuck Glacier to the col instead.

We parked at the Icicle gate full of hope that we could begin skinning right at the car, this we at least attempted. The snow cover on the road was patchy for the first mile but we skinned some of it and shouldered our skis for the rest. After about a mile it was continuous skinning to the lake. Although I'm convinced that snowshoes (or just traction devices) would actually be better for the approach due to the boot-pack. At the headwall after the last creek crossing the trail kind of petered out, so floatation would be useful here, though it was ridiculously step for skinning.

We skinned across the lake and set up camp near the west shore to guard against the predicted NW wind the next day.

It snowed about 2" in the night and we woke to what seemed moderate winds up high and high patchy cloud cover; the weather would have been decent for the climb but we ran out of fuel which put water on semi-short rations. So we decided to skin to the col and save some face at least.

The previous day a skier had told us the upper 2/3 of the glacier was pretty bad skiing, but the new snow made it quite nice. The whole decent from the col to the lake was pretty good snow if you picked your route between the wind packed areas. By next weekend it will probably be all sun crust and wind pack though, unless it gets really warm and softens up.

There was some slight wind slab formation along the east margin of the glacier slope close to the cliffs of Dragontail.

We had a great ski down to the lake, packed up our gear and headed down. My partner decided to boot pack it down the headwall but me, being sleight and my pack already weighing almost 1/3 my body weight, I side-slipped it down to the creek crossing. We both carried our skis down the trail from there until we hit the road, then skied it out to within about a mile of the trailhead.

Al told it was 6000 foot of vertical over 18.6 miles round trip.

Gear Notes:
Ski crampons useful for the glacier due to wind packing and scouring.

Approach Notes:
Snowshoes recommended if not planning to ski for the sake of skiing.
_________________________
- Sean

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#1147651 - 03/28/16 10:43 PM Re: [TR] Colchuck Peak - NBC 3/27/2016 [Re: geosean]
bryce398 Offline
stranger

Registered: 05/20/11
Posts: 20
TRs: 1 Photos: 9
Loc: Tacoma, WA


Not a bad consolation prize to ski a couple thousand feet of vert on mostly good powder.

I've recently been making a concerted effort to go lite in the alpine which led to the decision to only bring the 4 oz bottle for melting snow. An MSR reactor with 4 oz bottle makes about 8 liters of water from melted snow at an elevation of 5570ft which turned out to be good only for our needs Saturday with a few liters left over after dinner.

I did get to test my new Mountain Laurel Super Mid and it worked fantastic in the moderate winds and snow, and saved me about five lbs over my trango 2. I was surprised at the amount of condensation my Neanderthal mouth breathing produced which later froze and we had a mini snow storm when we started banging around.

I also was using for the first time on snow a sleep system that included a sub 2lb Enlightened down quilt, with a Mountain Laurel .5 lb super light bivy and a MSR Neo Xtherm sleep pad at 15 oz. I also wore a Patagonia nano puff and a Mountain Hardware (some type of synthetic) jacket, camp booties and a hat. It got down (according to the weather forecast) into the mid 20s and I was toasty in that sleep system.

Basically I went from a 15-20lb tent/sleep system to one of less then 7lbs and my legs and back thanked me on the approach.

Sean is a much better skier then I and as such I did more post holing then he did. I would recommend a few more freeze thaw days/nights before the couloir will be in prime boot packing condition. The snow on the glacier was not particularly fun to hike up, which I only did for about 100 feet before I switched back to skinning.

Overall great trip in a beautiful area with a solid partner and thanks to the shitty weather it kept the riff raff away.

Approach from the second bridge to the lake is breakable crust and is a pain to punch step through.

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#1147655 - 03/29/16 07:49 AM Re: [TR] Colchuck Peak - NBC 3/27/2016 [Re: geosean]
Nick Sweeney Offline
stranger

Registered: 07/30/14
Posts: 6
TRs: 4 Photos: 0
Loc: Spokane, WA
Nice! Did you get any other pictures of the North face of Dragontail?

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#1147656 - 03/29/16 08:16 AM Re: [TR] Colchuck Peak - NBC 3/27/2016 [Re: geosean]
bryce398 Offline
stranger

Registered: 05/20/11
Posts: 20
TRs: 1 Photos: 9
Loc: Tacoma, WA

North Face

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#1147663 - 03/29/16 11:32 AM Re: [TR] Colchuck Peak - NBC 3/27/2016 [Re: geosean]
geosean Offline
n00b

Registered: 06/04/14
Posts: 45
TRs: 10 Photos: 23
Loc: Bellingham
Nice additions Bryce! Thanks!
_________________________
- Sean

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