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John Frieh

[TR] Dragontail - NE Couloir 11/24/2008

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Thanks for the great TR!

I seriously considered calling in sick Tuesday afternoon and driving over there. But alas, too many commitments.....

 

Do it, and do it alot before you get married and have kids. It gets much more difficult.

 

or get married to someone that will do it with you. :-) but still have to stay away from the kids part.

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Do it, and do it alot before you get married and have kids. It gets much more difficult.

 

 

yeah and in my case, add move out of the country to the list. Damn I miss ice climbing hell any kind of climbing.

 

Nice TR, I damn jealous.

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Dane and I did the route yesterday. John, your pictures don't do the route justice. Those last two pitches are a little spicey, don't you say? We broguht 5 cams (.4 to 3, used em all), 3 blades (used), 2 baby angles (didnt use), 5 nuts (I placed one), and two shorty screws (completly pointless). Lots of fun, very good route.

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Nice A.M. & Dane! Did ya like that traverse move that starts the first technical pitch? It got my attention! When we got to the top of that one we realized we could have just walked around it to the right :) but well worth the diversion

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Craig aka Alpine Monkey did an awseome job breaking trail up the gully (sadly no steps there from Sunday) and kindly leading every pitch. Gotta give him big atta boys!

 

If you read Becky's guide this climb is rated a II 5.7 and 40 degrees. A 5.7 leader would be well out of his element on this one in similar late fall conditions.

M4 or M5? The climbing was pretty sustained and poorly protected in the last, long, two pitches and harder than any M5 I have done at Hafner. Not all that much for pro, which most will want. Bring some thin pins. And a good bit steeper over all than the 40 degrees Becky has listed. It is a great climb however and more like something from Chamonix than what you'd expect to find in the NW. To be fair any mixed alpine route will change almost daily depending on conditions. If this thing had a foot of ice top to bottom it would be more fun than Polar Circus or Slipstream. Either way, short of the approach, it is a classic mixed climb for our area.

 

As John's pictures showed the ambience any where in the gully is second to none. Big thanks to John as well for the great TR. If I hadn't seen the pics I'd never believed it worth the walk in. Looking down from any where on the Upper crux is awe inspring.

 

Lower in the gully, on the best ice to be had on our ascent. Screws in these conditions were worthless. But amazingly you could generally get a good stick or a decent hook and good feet even on Darts when it wasn't snow plodding up to your crotch.

 

ach.sized.jpg

 

Looking up the last steep snow slope at the final crux headwall. Climb finishes just left of the obvious pinnacle on the skyline.

 

acs.sized.jpg

 

And the beginning of the two pitch crux at the end of the climb.

Which just gets a whole lot thinner and harder the higher you go.

 

act.sized.jpg

 

ack.sized.jpg

 

 

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That traverse you mention was hard, but I had a good piece in. I was more scared on the 2nd pitch. Your guys steps were completly gone. :(

Edited by AlpineMonkey

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Ya, just love plunging steps past my belly button.....damn that was getting old and I was just following ;)

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M4 or M5? Although the climbing was sustained in the last two pitches and harder than any M5 I have done at Hafner.

 

If it was harder than M5 I would have fallen off it :laf: :laf: :laf::grlaf:

 

Nice send dudes! I smell a flavor of the month!

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Great looking climb. Another teleross classic I believe. Good for you guys getting out in November. Hard core

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Thanks for the info. I was thinking of trying NE Couloir this weekend but I don't have the guns for M5 anymore. I'll be doing something easier instead.

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Yikes. Nice pics and nice send.

The pics from the first party made it look easier than the second partie's pics.

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Not much choss in Hafner.

 

I imagine John was thinking about the original crux on Kitchener's GCC with his comment. He took a 40'er, 2500' up, a month ago when a block pulled. I certainly had that climb in mind....a bit longer and not quite like the solid limestone at Hafner :) I offered a Hafner grade comparison because many here have climbed there. GCC or some of the other Rockies N faces, which are all chossy, don't generally see that kind of traffic ;)

 

Just a bit more info..

 

Same gully in May. Note the lack of rock pitches at the entrance to the gully?

 

15NButCouloirAvy.jpg

 

"Dragontail Peak, NE Couloir Ski Descent

 

On April 3rd, 2004, I climbed and skied the NE Couloir on Dragontail Peak. I approached across Colchuck Lake, and up to the bottom of the NE Couloir. The steep couloir twists and turns up the face between huge granite walls. The upper section of the couloir was very steep and narrow, and made for precarious balancing as I took off my crampons and put on the skis. The ski descent was a mixed bag of nice, somewhat firm snow, loose unconsolidated stuff and pretty solid ice. The steep winding nature of the couloir added some spice.

 

-Ross Peritore

 

Just shows you how much a route can change in a season. (or even between ascents when you are loosing much of the ice just by climbing on it)) No way in hell anyone is going to ski sections of the lower gully as it was on Tuesday. Take a look at John's photos again in some of the narrow sections. A number of places I could just get two boots side by side. Early spring after a good load of winter snow I suspect much of the gully actually is 40 degrees and fairly wide by comparison. Still not all of it is going to be 40 degrees and it would make an impressive ski from the upper rock band down. You fall here and you'll die bouncing off the sides of the gully but at least there is a good run out over the 'shrund, so you'll be easy to find :)

 

 

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Craig aka Alpine Monkey did an awseome job breaking trail up the gully (sadly no steps there from Sunday) and kindly leading every pitch. Gotta give him big atta boys!

 

If you read Becky's guide this climb is rated a II 5.7 and 40 degrees. A 5.7 leader would be well out of his element on this one in similar late fall conditions.

M4 or M5? The climbing was pretty sustained and poorly protected in the last, long, two pitches and harder than any M5 I have done at Hafner. Not all that much for pro, which most will want. Bring some thin pins. And a good bit steeper over all than the 40 degrees Becky has listed. It is a great climb however and more like something from Chamonix than what you'd expect to find in the NW. To be fair any mixed alpine route will change almost daily depending on conditions. If this thing had a foot of ice top to bottom it would be more fun than Polar Circus or Slipstream. Either way, short of the approach, it is a classic mixed climb for our area.

 

As John's pictures showed the ambience any where in the gully is second to none. Big thanks to John as well for the great TR. If I hadn't seen the pics I'd never believed it worth the walk in. Looking down from any where on the Upper crux is awe inspring.

 

Lower in the gully, on the best ice to be had on our ascent. Screws in these conditions were worthless.

 

ach.sized.jpg

 

And the beginning of the two pitch crux at the end of the climb.

Which just gets a whole lot thinner and harder the higher you go.

 

aci.sized.jpg

 

ack.sized.jpg

 

What time of year would you expect to have the most ice?

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What time of year would you expect to have the most ice? Braydon

 

 

Like almost any alpine ice climb, late fall, if the conditions are right. I would bet this one could be almost dry on the crux pitches on some years during Oct and Nov. Different year and a wet fall, then a good freeze and clear weather might well give more ice and better snow conditions than we got. I'd have never believed the climbing was going to be as good as it was while looking up at the N. face of Dragontail when hiking over to the coulior! There was almost no snow walking in on the trail (less than a inch or just bare) or at the lake (less than 6" of fluff) The lake is just starting to get a tiny bit of ice on the far north end. Good two feet of snow on the top of Asgard out of the wind and more yet higher up on Dragontail.

 

Here is that "money" shot that made we want to be there. This one from our climb taken from the belay on the first pitch of the crux corner system.

 

acp.sized.jpg

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Nice fellas! In winter/spring this route is indeed a 40deg step-kicker (with the exception of the last pitch or two), and quite fun. A fine alternative if the Gerber-Sink or Triple Couloirs are not in.

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We (Kyle, Chris and I) did this yesterday. It was 46deg at the

base and the route felt like it was in late spring conditions.

Much of the snow you see in the pictures above has gone. It

didn't freeze over night even though the skies were clear.

 

Several of the steps lower on the route had melted out and were

running with water. The final pitch had a reasonable amount of

ice but it was very wet and delaminating. I wouldn't even give

it an M grade in those conditions, it was more like thin ice

climbing on poorly adhered wet ice.

 

Several parties did it on Saturday. I'd be interested to hear

what conditions were like the day before as they seem to be

changing incredibly fast. The route needs colder temps to come

back into good condition.

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My girlfriend and I were the second of three parties on the route on Saturday. It was above freezing and it seemed like the crux pitch was only a few warm days away from being out of shape.

All in all, I thought the route was great, and we wouldn't have been there without John's TR. Thanks.

I wouldn't mind hearing how the climb went for the party of three behind us. Did you guys top out in the light?

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Nice!

 

So is this going to be the first "euro" mixed climb in WA? I was thinking 55m dbl, chained, rap anchors down the entire gully from the top out on the rocks and fixed pro up the entire headwall :)

 

Avoiding Asgard all together.

 

Either way I am going back during the next hard freeze for another round of mixed goodness.

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We didn't get on the route. We weren't moving quick at all because of my ankle (rockfall in July), and with everyone else heading for the same thing, plus with the weather moving, we decided to mess around with the ice on Asgard and around the base of the route before heading back to the car. Stupid ankle!!

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Avoiding Asgard all together.

 

:lmao: Dane, I think our knees are a similar vintage, that sounds shockingly appealing.

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Either way I am going back during the next hard freeze for another round of mixed goodness.

 

Seems like that may be sooner than later...I am already working on my cough for mid week :)

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OW, ya, sadly I hate to admit it but I am semi serious about a rap route and fixed gear on this climb. It was that much fun and worth multiple repeats while ion season if you could do it as a "chamonix sport" route.

 

Can you image the typical traffic jams you'd have when the route is in on a weekend? But the ambiance of the lower gully and the excellent, moderate, mixed climbing on the headwall makes me want to run laps on this one...but only without having to stumble back down Asgard of course.

 

I've done TD, the G/S, the Fin, Backbone and Serpentine (some many many times) and never thought I'd ever suggest such a thing as fixed gear and a rap route on Dragontail or climb the NE Coulior for that matter (@40 degrees and 5.7) :)

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