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#1149490 - 06/19/16 11:17 PM [TR] Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir 6/19/2016
Jaime Offline

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 19
TRs: 15 Photos: 72
Trip: Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir

Date: 6/19/2016

Trip Report:
Russ, Evan, Chris and I climbed Colchuck Peak via the North Buttress Couloir for ICC Alpine 2. We hadn't found much beta on climbing the route this late in the year, so we were a little concerned whether the route would be in.

Our first view of Colchuck from across the lake. Our route to the base of the climb shown in red. The couloir itself goes diagonally up to the right but is hidden from view here.

The lower half of Colchuck Glacier was almost entirely melted out, but we were able to follow a snow finger on the right (West) side up to a morraine. Unfortunately, the snow didn't make it continuously all the way to the couloir so we had to cut over some rock. We then immediately saw that the entrance to the couloir was guarded by a moat. Another ICC team reached the start just ahead of us and had navigated around the moat on 4th class terrain to the right. We followed their lead and found relatively easy climbing to get around the moat.

The view of our route from the moraine.

At this point we roped up into two teams, each on a 30m rope. However, since we only had 4 pickets between all of us, we decided that the teams would take turns leading with all the gear, leaving it in place for the second team to "pink point". This worked very well, allowing us to reach the notch in four long simuls. The sun had already been warming the couloir before we even got on it, so the snow was mostly softish. The angle was fairly sustained at 45-50 with perhaps some steeper sections up to 60. Just before the end of the first long simul (~400ft), we encountered the rocky step which required some 4th or maybe low 5th moves.

Meanwhile the other ICC team had soloed the entire way to the notch (they brought ice tools, which probably helped) so they cruised ahead. However, when we got to the notch, they were just throwing ropes to rappel. They'd apparently lead out a little ways past the notch and found only unprotectable slab with powdery snow on top. (It seems likely that earlier in the year this is more snow-covered and therefore less of problem.) While they were starting their rappels, we climbed up a bit on the opposite ridge to try to get a better view of the route. Russ thought he saw a viable route starting a little higher than the other team had gone, where the slabs flattened out. We decided to at least try it out.

Russ led out first and once he made it over a short step he saw a clear path forward over mostly 2nd/3rd class rock covered in a few inches of snow (probably mostly just from the snow from yesterday). He took all the gear, again planning to make it a long simul pitch. I foolishly decided to take my crampons off at this point, thinking the next bit would be mostly rock. This was alright for the first 30m or so, but once we were past this rocky traverse we got onto the Northwest face and back onto steep snow and ice, so I paused at a picket to put my crampons back on. I was extremely grateful for that decision since the remainder of that pitch was fairly steep (60+ degrees) and icy in sections.

Evan led out next, bringing us the rest of the way up the face to another notch, finishing up the steep snow section of the route. From here we went around to the right for some 3rd/4th class scrambling. We kept going right until we couldn't go any further, the scrambled up to the left and onto the summit.

We descended by the Colchuck Glacier route, where a fast glissade helped us get back to the lake in 1.5 hours.

  • 5:00am - Leave trailhead
  • 6:30am - Colchuck Lake
  • 8:30am - Base of couloir
  • 10:30am - Notch
  • 1:30pm - Summit (30min)
  • 5:30pm - Cars

GPS Track here:

Gear Notes:
Each team of two had a 30m rope, two pickets, one ice screw, and a small rock rack (0.5-1 cams, ~5 nuts, 2-3 slings). However, we had the second team in each simul-pitch "pinkpoint" the route so that we could share gear between the teams and make our pitches twice as long. We used all the pickets and most or all of the rock gear, but we never placed a screw.

Everyone had crampons and a single ice ax. Ice tools would have been nice, but we got by without them.

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#1149511 - 06/20/16 03:23 PM Re: [TR] Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir 6/19/2016 [Re: Jaime]
Alisse Offline

Registered: 03/27/14
Posts: 47
TRs: 4 Photos: 26
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Awesome! Congrats!

#1149512 - 06/20/16 03:28 PM Re: [TR] Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir 6/19/2016 [Re: Jaime]
olyclimber Offline

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 25303
TRs: 47 Photos: 895
Loc: In Love with You


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