Trip: Dragontail & Prusik - Triple Couloirs to Solid Gold
There are probably only a few weeks each year where you can easily take full advantage of all the various amazing mountain sports in the Cascades, and combine them into single days. I spent last week hounding various friends and partners. Want to go skiing? Want to go ice climbing? Want to get on some alpine granite? When asked those 3 questions, my friend Matt said "yes" and that was that.
We started off by climbing Triple Couloirs on Dragontail. The snow and ice on Colchuck was good enough to ski across, especially if one stayed on the west side of the lake. We found the route to be thin but well-protected with bomber rock gear. I placed (and left) 1 short LA, but our three ice screws were a total waste of energy to carry. We didn't find anything close to ice which would take a screw, but there was an occasional veneer of slush atop wet slabs and muddy flakes.
The crux pitch:
It had been so warm last week that the snow was isothermic and we were post-holing pretty badly, especially with heavy packs laden down with rock and ski gear. I had completely forgotten gloves, and I lead the first pitch on Triple Couloirs with bare hands and in a single light shirt. Did I mention it was warm?
The step right into the final couloir:
After a few more short pitches and much soft snow wallowing, we lunched atop Dragtonail and assessed our options. Aasgard Sentinel and CBR rock routes are both looking primo, but we decided there was still plenty of time to head over to Prusik.
The ski to Prusik, we made it to within 100 yards of the route before switching out of skis:
A triple-couloir/Der-Sportsman linkup ("The Triple Der!") crossed our minds, but it was late in the day by the time we racked up beneath Prusik's south face. We settled on Solid Gold, which is about as good as it gets for 5.10 alpine granite.
Amid darkening clouds and Mordor-style wind and rain vortexes, we skinned back to Aasgard and made a nearly continuous ski descent back down and across the lake, where we re-donned our tennis shoes for the final few miles to the car.
Gear to #2 camalot, used 1 pin on TC.
No snow on the trail until you turn off toward Colchuck, then it's 1/2 packed snow and 1/2 mud to the lake. I would expect Colchuck Lake is no longer crossable. The ski down from the Aasgard Sentinel (Acid Baby, Valkyrie) is so rad right now, it makes the knee-destroying summer slog look pretty bad.