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[TR] Sherpa, Argonaut, Colchuck, Dragontail - Sherpa - N Ridge, Argonaut - NW Arete, Colchuck, Dragontail - Walkups 08/09/2018


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Trip: Sherpa, Argonaut, Colchuck, Dragontail - Sherpa - N Ridge, Argonaut - NW Arete, Colchuck, Dragontail - Walkups

Trip Date: 08/09/2018

Trip Report:


@Albuquerque Fred and I had a great 4 days over August 9-12 in the Stuart Range. Fred put this plan together to avoid permits and maximize climbing. It worked great, good camping, sufficient water, great climbs and not bad approaching. It was extremely hot the first two days however, we did mostly avoid smoke.


We hiked in on Thursday afternoon in 90-degree heat and camped at about 5700' NW of Argonaut Peak in a beautiful sandy patch amongst the boulders. The next day we did the North Ridge of Sherpa and back to camp. The climb was fun but we cheated a bit by following ledges to the left because we were so hot and worried about water that it made taking the tough line a hard choice. It would be a great climb if you stayed faithful to the ridge crest I'm sure. The crux pitches were 5.8 as advertised, but easy pro and not long. The descent went mostly per Nelson and Potterfield, definitely "arduous". 

Day three we carried camp over the NW Arete of Argonaut and down to Colchuck Col. This was a great climb with an easy descent or raps and walking to Colchuck. After lots of food and water in camp and some sheltering from wind and brewing rain we ran up Colchuck. I may have said something like "we better run if we want to avoid the rain" but I didn't mean it literally... Fred did.

Day four we walked up Dragontail and down Asgaard Pass and out to the car, passing ten thousand people. Up to this point we only saw three guys in the woods on their way out from Sherpa on day one. Awesome.

We had planned to descend Asgaard because there is a lot of ice exposed on the Colchuck Glacier.

I was taking a break from my phone on this trip but I know @Albuquerque Fred got some photos. Maybe he will share!

Gear Notes:
Single rack sufficient, lots long of runners 60m rope rock shoes approach shoes No axe or crampons needed the whole trip, we carried them for training.

Approach Notes:
Trail, woods - no real brush to speak of by Cascades standards.


Edited by geosean
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Neat trip!  I have been in that sherpa basin once.   Pretty cool spot.   How hard was it to access the nw arete of argonaut this late?   For some reason i thought it required snow to get up the notch to the base of the route.  That east ridge of sherpa is tedious.  

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13 hours ago, pu said:

How hard was it to access the nw arete of argonaut this late?   For some reason i thought it required snow to get up the notch to the base of the route.

I forgot to mention this: we accessed the Arete from the west, climbing an easy gully on the west side to the notch at 7400'. This was an easy gully hike, scree, but not as bad as access to Liberty Bell for example. It did require us to do some pitched climbing and class 2 hiking to get to the base of the route proper. One could probably access the notch at the start of the climb from the west as well, it looked easy also; there was a tiny bit of easy snow that might be avoided. The standard approach gully looked gnarly, with discontinuous snow and moat issues for sure.

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Now that i take a closer look at your tracks i get it.  Definitely the back side, west side.  So, you didnt start the aret at the base, notch.  You caught it a little farther up?   Seems like a good late season way to do it.  

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Argonaut and Sherpa viewed from Lake Stuart Trail.  It was about a million degrees.


View from base camp, which is in the low notch in the previous photo


Sean heading up to Sherpa


Argonaut at sunrise.  The gully we used tops out at the notch, though as Sean mentioned the ridgeline is a bit more complicated than the photo suggests.  There's another good photo of the upper approach from top of Sherpa.


Scrambling to the 1st pitch


Watering up


Sean right before the countertop catwalk.  First pitch is at the left-hand notch.


Sean on the first pitch leading of the summit proper.  He has already placed both #5 and #6 cams ;^)


Sean with some rocks


Nonstandard approach to NW Arete of Argonaut


Stuart and Sherpa with stuff on the top of Argonaut


Colchuck and rainbow


4th rap to Colchuck-Argonaut col


Sean defeats the wind with rocks and all the old tat he harvested



Emerging from fog at Dragontail col


Yet another obligatory Core Enchantments Zone photo.  The technicolor clouds heralded the arrival of accursed haze, thick and smoky by the time we left town that afternoon.


Snow was soft and bootpacked.  We carried crampons just to look rad.


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