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Soulken

[TR] Enchantments - Dragontail Backbone Ridge 7/7/2014

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Trip: Enchantments - Dragontail Backbone Ridge

 

Date: 7/7/2014

 

Trip Report:

We climbed this beast on Monday starting from our base camp at Colchuck Lake. The company consisted of 4. I lead on twin ropes with Abraham (asong from CC) following. Yeum and Carmen came up behind also on twins. Mostly we climbed as 2 teams of 2. However we fixed a few pitches for the 2nd team, where our least experienced member climbed so slowly it added hours to the day.

 

Permit in hand, we skipped up to the moraine. Having had climbed Serpentine a few weeks back with Esther Cho, we found crampons and axe weren't necessary for the soft snow; this time I figured a pole apiece would suffice (good to have for the descent too). The start of the route traverses laterally left along a tree line. We pitched the entire thing out so the climb would take our group all day.

 

After the leftward tx, we scrambled upward and right, making our way past the 5.6 corner and to the base of the off width. This 2nd offical pitch was definitely one of the highlights and I thought fun as hell. Chimney technique worked for the first part. Then, as advertised, the crack widened, the nubbins on the R face grew more scare, and some off width moves came into play. I walked a c4 #5 a ways, then a c4 #6 quite a ways. I was glad to have both. We hauled packs on one of our alpine ropes. Abraham trailed the 2nd team's rope, where we fixed the pitch for them. Yeum ascended employing a tibloc method. Carmen brought up the rear, I can only imagine cursing and struggling the whole way.

 

Some fun finger cracks immediately followed. I went R of a roof, avoided the end of another off width. Next was easy 5th all the way to the loose R trending gully at the base of the fin. The first fin pitch was the psychological crux of the climb for me. I had heard there were some twin cracks above but I couldn't see them. In hindsight I think I should've face climbed more on faith to reach them. Instead I started perhaps too far L, taking a lichen laden path with some less than perfect rock. I only went there because initially it looked like better opportunity for pro. The finish of that arete was indeed exciting. Once on the next big ledge the route became more obvious where a pitch or two kept on the L side of the fin. Stellar crack climbing eventually brought me to the R diagonal foot tx. Sweet exposure here took me to the crest where I belayed from a horn. At this point I debated entering the triple couloir gully on the back side but decided it was too early to bail that way. Further up I found that gully too chossy for my taste anyway. So I dropped back onto the fin going up diagonally again until a wider crack topped out at the fin's upper R crest. The rest was mostly 4th to the top. We descended Asgard with a little help from the moon. All in all a satisfying day despite the ample downtime waiting for the 2nd team to catch up.

 

Dragontail_Backbone-5_800x531_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-64_1_640x425_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-215_640x425_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-52_425x640_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-200_640x425_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-169_640x425_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-16_640x425_2_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-188_640x425_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-138_800x532_5_.jpgDragontail_Backbone-154_640x425_.jpg

 

Gear Notes:

Rack: (Burly) set x4 offsets, double c4s .4 to #3, #5, #6, stoppers, trekking pole, 2 liters H20, our own backbones

 

Approach Notes:

Don't go up too far. The start is easy. The ridge is gained from the left. Plan it out before you get too close to the wall and can't see the route.

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The ample downtime waiting for the 2nd team to catch up was a drawback and made us worry that we might not complete the route in day light. But it enabled us enjoy the mountain and its surrounding more leisurely. We reached to the top at the right time to witness the gorgeous sunset.

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You're absolutely right. Very philosophical. That is a good attitude to have. That's what headlamps are for anyway I suppose.

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