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mountainmatt

[TR] Colchuck and Dragontail- Colchuck Glacier 5/21/2006

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Climb: Colchuck and Dragontail-Colchuck Glacier

 

Date of Climb: 5/21/2006

 

Trip Report:

The seven of us met up at the trailhead at 8 AM to get ready to hike into Colchuck Lake. We hoped the weather would improve as it was already raining. We arrived at the north side of the lake a decided that with the 90-degree temperatures all last week, that it would not be a good idea to cross the lake. The sun broke through the clouds and the sky cleared shortly after. After another hour of post-holing our way around the west side of the lake, we made camp at the south side of Colchuck Lake. Unfortunately, one of our party sprained his ankle during the hike and would not be able to climb with us the next day.

 

After setting up camp, we did a little hike up to look at the route across the glacier, but due to the warm temperatures and rock fall coming off of Dragontail, we decided to head back down to camp. While cooking, we watching the various chipmunks coming out as well as a beaver that was on the south side of the lake. I guess that I would be carrying my food up the mountain with me.

 

We headed out the next morning at 4:15 AM under starry skies. We made short work of the glacier up the saddle between Colchuck and Dragontail. The wind picket up to about 10 mph, but with the sun, it was still pretty warm. We headed up Colchuck first which can be climbed from the saddle to the summit almost all on trail and rock hoping. We arrived at the summit at around 7:30. There were only a few clouds visible and we had clear 360 views. We headed down from Colchuck and made it back to the saddle around 8:30.

 

Two more of our party headed out to help our seventh member with a sprained ankle back down to the trailhead. The remaining four of us decided to head up Dragontail. We started by scrambling up a rock field till it closed out to the chute that we would climb up. The snow was fairly hard making it difficult to kick steps and a little scary on the 40-45 degree slope. A fall here would definitely have been bad. We made it up the snow chute and jumped out on the very exposed class III/IV scramble on the west side of the chute. After crossing through there, we made it to the snowfield that drops below Dragontail, which we traversed and then headed to the summit. The clouds had rolled in by this point and we started to descend around 11 AM. We glissaded down to Asgaurd pass, and then the rest of the way down to the lake. We were back at camp by 12. Dragontail was partially covered with clouds by this point, and it started to rain again at 12:30. It rained for the rest of the decent.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Brought: ropes, pickets, etc.

 

Used: ice axe, crampons

 

Approach Notes:

The approach still has a lot of snow on it. Due to the high temps last week, it has made crossing of the rock and tree areas prone to post-holing. When crossing the final bridge, be sure to stay to your immediate right (close to the river) to avoid a longer section of rock hoping/post-holing. There is a decent broken trail now that goes on the west side of Colchuck Lake to the base of the snowfield. Several other parties were up hiking/skiing in the area and the trail was much improved on the descent.

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Thanks for the steps on Dragontail.

 

We came in from the trailhead that morning and did Dragontail first...we arrived at 12:30 at the summit in a torrent of snow and rain and we were following your footsteps the whole way...we then came back down to Colchuck col and went up Colchuck in the continuing wind, snow and rain.

 

It was nice to follow your footsteps! Thanks!

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How was the decent back down the chute on Dragontail? It was pretty hard packed when we went up. We thought it might be a pretty scary descent route.

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How was the decent back down the chute on Dragontail? It was pretty hard packed when we went up. We thought it might be a pretty scary descent route.

 

It wasn't bad at all. Plunge stepping went okay. You got your heel in every time--not all the way, but enough to be secure. Thanks for the pics!

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omg I'm SO jealous of your pics! I can't believe what a difference two hours made! We were the party that were heading up the North Butress but changed our minds after talking to you guys about weather and timing. Check out the nastiness that was at the col by the time we got there:

normal_mini-P1010082%7E0.JPG

 

More pics here: http://www.alpinescribes.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=109

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Hey, I was curious as to what the conditions of the trail is like prior to the postholing around the lake. Also what conditions are like near the upper enchantments?

 

Thanks.

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The first third of the trail is mostly dirt with patches of intermitent snow. The second third contains a great deal more snow, occasional postholing, but for the most part you can move pretty fast here. The last third involves weaving through the trees, deadfall, and rocks up to the lake. This as well as the route around the lake are much slower moving. However, as traffic increased, there was less postholing. Just watch out for the trees and the edges of boulders. Make sure you stay to the immeadiate right after crossing the last bridge to avoid a great deal of postholing in the boulder field. tongue.gif

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