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rollo

[TR] Dragontail- Serpentine Arete 9/8/2004

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Climb: Dragontail-Serpentine Arete

 

Date of Climb: 9/8/2004

 

Trip Report:

4 other friends and I headed up to Colchuk/enchantments for a relaxing 5 days of fishing, climbing, and not working. I'd never been into Colchuk lake before, and was in awe at the size of Dragontail, and excited/scared to tackle our main objective: the serpentine arete. After a rainbow trout dinner tuesday night, a gang of 4 of us (2 rope teams) headed up the moraine to the base of the climb, and were on route by 9am. Plenty of time. Shya. We did hear another team over on the backbone, which turned out to be some fellow CC.comers, though we didn't know it, and didn't really see them for the rest of the day. Anyway, upward we went, until we came to the 5.8ish hand crack which gave us all a bit of trouble, but no falls. And the dihedral that followed was nothing but fun. The route then got a bit monotonous with a lot of scrambling (which we should have simuled, but didn't) and ended up on the last pitch in changing weather at about 7:30pm. Mist covered rock and a funky offwidth resulted in much groveling to get to the base of the last dihedral, which put us on top at about 8pm. Ruh roh raggy. Oh, and we had no damn idea how to get down, other than "its a walk off". We forged around with headlamps for awhile, but the dreaded realization of an open bivvy was upon us. Fortunately, we had no bivy gear or warm clothing to help us through the night, which was becoming increasingly moist and windy. We were able to spot several previously built up sites though, which offered poor protection from the wind and mist/hail. We split up into 2 sets of 2 guys and suffered through a looooong night with minimal sleep, spastic shivering and completely numb toes (they are still numb as I write this, actually. This can't be good.) In the morning we awoke (awoke? OK, sat upright) in the middle of a cloud, and forged around looking for a way off of the rock. The cloud started to clear a bit, and we could see a snow/icefield that led across to a boulderfield back down to asgard pass. Rock on! An escape! Uhhhh, were we supposed to bring crampons? Now confronted with about 800' of icefield with a nasty runout and all of us wearing sneakers or sandals, this didn't seem so easy. We considered belaying somebody down from the moat at the top of the icefield and letting them claw and scamper over to the boulder field. I thought to myself: " wonder who the poor bastard that has to go first is?" Why not the biggest guy? uhhh...guess that's me. I had spotted some rappel slings earlier, up on the cliff face just below the boulders that we bivvy'd in. I quickly became the main proponent for the rap-method of escape, after I assessed the amount of clawing in the middle of an icefield in sandals I would be doing. Long story short, we rapped down to the boulders, hiked down asgard pass and collapsed in our tents for some much needed sleep. The rest of the vacation was spent exploring balanced rock and fishing, and reflecting on what we would do differently next time. And undoubtedly, there will be a next time. My final Jerry Springer thought: it was a great vacation with all of the wild experiences that come with alpine climbing that make you really appreciate life and the simple pleasures you usually take for granted.

 

Gear Notes:

A Rack. Be sure not to bring bivy gear or warm clothes in case you get benighted. There's nothing quite like not feeling your toes 5 days after a climb. Oh, and you won't need a descent description either. "It's a walk off".

 

Approach Notes:

EZ. Icefield complicates descent if you don't have poons. You can rap off of the summit cliff to the boulder field below.

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Hi Rollo- Good read.

 

A good friend of mine descended down in late summer night one time in his rock shoes. Glad I wasn't on that trip!! Musta sucked and he learned :-)

 

At least you had some good trout !

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Cool fun. Nice story. Glad it was you. Next time, for variety, you could do the route that goes right up the middle of the face then link it with the route that crosses the face of teh fin on a great ledge system. This is a combo of two routes that you can see in the Becky guide. It goes at 5.7 (just a couple moves in two places) with nice cruisin granite all the way. More solid and more interesting than doing the Serp again. At least I think so. Then you can take the obvious gulley down the other way.

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I have to agree with Spliffy here that this was an irresponsible climb and should only be commended for the climbing parties stupidity and lack of planning. These people do not belong in the mountains and should stay safely at the crags.

 

Descending ice in sandals? Please stay home, we will all be safer.

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I will have to agree with those who are critical of your alpine adventure. I would never have attempted such a route with out being adequately prepared. If you had an injury you would have not only risked that persons life you could have risked the lives of those who would rescue you. If such a case arose I hope they charge you for it. As they should charge all those who go into the woods with no clue. I hope you learned a lot.

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Next time, for variety, you could do the route that goes right up the middle of the face then link it with the route that crosses the face of teh fin on a great ledge system. This is a combo of two routes that you can see in the Becky guide. It goes at 5.7 (just a couple moves in two places) with nice cruisin granite all the way. More solid and more interesting than doing the Serp again. At least I think so. Then you can take the obvious gulley down the other way.

 

Yep, this is a combo of the lower part of the Gerber/Sink N Face route (starts down by the lowest point of the face) and the upper part of the Hidden Couloir route. Really really fun, and overall hugely superior to Serpentine.

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Your TR seems to have sparked a bit of a...fuss hereabouts.

It appears you went off and did a pretty cool route and along the way bumped into a thing or two that you hadn't known was on the menu...that's alpine climbing....and you did have an unplanned bivouac...that's alpine climbing too...and you dealt with all of those things & had a pretty good trip which is commendable. Sooo...good going; nice TR. I'm mystified by all the fuss.

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