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TeleRoss

first ski descent [TR] Dragontail - TC ski descent 4/4/2006

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Climb: Dragontail -TC ski descent

 

Date of Climb: 4/4/2006

 

Trip Report:

Skied the Triple Couloirs on Dragontail Peak yesterday. I had tried to get into Dragontail a few times already this year and had been turned back each time for various reasons. I had vowed not to go back until there was a more favorable forecast and potential for better conditions....well, the forecast wasn't great, but I had become somewhat obsessed so after a quick stop to grab coffee for the road and to fill my thermos with an excessive amount of caffeine I left Seattle at 11:30 on Mondy night.

After a long and sleepy drive, my spirits were lifted as I got near Leavenworth as the stars began poking through the clouds. Mountaineers Creek road is still gated at the bridge so I started skinning up the road at 2:30am. Shortly I had to carry my skis because large sections of road are melted out, but soon enough there was continuous snow.

I arrived at Colchuck Lake at 7 just before the sun began lighting up the upper ridges of Dragontail and Colchuck.

-Object of my desire

3988TC-4-06_001-med.jpg

 

I had wanted to climb the route, but there was a considerable amount of new snow and I wanted to avoid an epic wallowfest as well as becoming a spindrift sandwich in the runnels, so I opted for skiining up to AssMaster Pass and up south side of dragontail.

After endless swithchbacks I arrived at AssMaster. The sun was shining and warm and for once there was not hurricane force winds ripping through the pass, so I rested a bit and soaked up some rays.

Skinning the snow creek glaciers was a bit of a chore as the sun had turned the snow to glop and an incredible amount began balling up on my skins, once on the south side of dragontail I was so tired of the snow balling that I carried my skis for the final couple hundred feet or so.

-Stuart from the summit

3988TC-4-06_018-med.jpg

 

From the summit I skied back down the south side for a short bit then traversed a kind of sketchy exposed east facing slope to the top of the TC.

-Looking down the upper couloir

3988TC-4-06_024-med.jpg

I was a bit nervous about dropping in blind, not knowing the snow conditions but these fears were alleviated in the first couple of turns as conditions were perfect. Snow was soft but not deep, just kind of chalky punchy powder.

Each couloir is exposed in its own way. The fall line of the upper couloir actually funnels down to skiers left out over the north face, so stay right...I crossed a little wind lip about half way down the upper couloir and continued.

-Turns in the upper couloir

3988TC-4-06_027-med.jpg

Between the upper and second couloirs there was an interesting rock/ice step that I negotiated somewhat gingerly before hopping the last few feet.

The second couloir is dead straight and fairly steep and is perched directly above the ice runnels section.

-Looking down the second couloir

3988TC-4-06_029-med.jpg

Again I found perfect snow conditions although I had to pay a bit more attention to the sluffs.

At the edge of the runnels I anchored into a piton and made the first of three raps. I'm glad I didn't try to climb the route because the runnels were thin. Not much ice to be found, just a lot of snow over rock.

-Close up of the climbers right side of the runnels

3988TC-4-06_030-med.jpg

Down in the hidden couloir more great turns led down to the entrance of the TC and a little exposed bit above a rock band led out to open slopes above Colchuck Lake...phew, I finally could breathe and relax.

The ski down to the trail from the lake in the afternoon sun was an interesting mix of deep mushy glop, falling into holes, and generally trying just to stay on my feet. Down on the road I was suprised to see how much more snow had melted out just that day, but there is still a ton of snow on the upper 2 miles or so which will probably take a fair amount of time to melt out.

Ross

 

 

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

Some pitons for rappel anchors

 

Approach Notes:

Road is an annoying mix of skiining and walking then finally continuous skinning.

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Fuggin' badass!

 

Any pictures looking back at the North Face with your turns carved into the couliors? That would be sweet.

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Holy Christ.

 

Did you rap the runnels with skis on or skis off?

 

Nice timing catching the weather window!!

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Yeah I left my skis on...just felt like that was the right thing to do.

Although that made for some interesting times trying to perch myself on my skis on some steep rock so I could get in an anchor.. yellaf.gif...much cursing ensued several times.

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Nice job, Ross! I knew this would go a few years ago when I climbed the thing in what would have been absolutely perfect skiing conditions. Unfortunately, without skis, it was a horrid mega-wallow all the way up. I'm glad you tagged it - I had caught wind of multiple "obsessed" attempts!

 

bigdrink.gifbigdrink.gif

 

-josh

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thumbs_up.gif What's next? Stuie GC or Ice Cliff w/out raps?

 

The Stewart GC wouldn't make much of a ski. The coulior itself is most certainly skiable (I've climbed it) but after that you are simply climbing on the west ridge.

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Way to slay the Jabberwocky!

I always knew the couloirs themselves would be easy (straightforward, I mean) to ski. Only the runnels would present a problem. So why didn't you simply carry enough speed in the second couloir to jump the runnels all together? grin.gif

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Christ! It's so fascinating that someone would (rather humbly I'll add) post a TR about skiing something which I am proud to have ASCENDED. People never cease to amaze me. This, of a route which I once heard Mark Twight call one of his favorites in the range....

 

Sounds like some melt-freeze cycles would benefit the runnels . . .

 

If I was roped up and climbing that thing when someone went past me in the other direction on skis, I might have to retire for good...

 

Thanks for the report -- any more pictures?

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This, of a route which I once heard Mark Twight call one of his favorites in the range....

 

Skiing Mark Twight's favorite ice climb thumbs_up.gif

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You guys are getting all bummed out about nothing. smile.gif The couliors have never been the "challenge" of climbing UP TCs. It's the runnels. The ski descent is an entirely different beast. You are there for the couliors (tedious when climbed, IMHO) and not the runnels.

 

I must admit, however, that Ross' descent makes me wish I had gone up and skied the thing the day after I climbed it for the first time. All the couliors were endless fluff...

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There have been a number of impressive lines skied this year, posing a question. So are skiers just getting bolder, the equipment getting better, combo of both? Or is Ross just a complete bad ass who has primatives pygmies in a remote island worshipping him as a God?

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