Dragontail Peak/Colchuck Col

A beautiful alpine climb up steep snow, followed by some 3+ scrambling, to the second highest peak in the Stuart Range. The southwest ridge resembles the long spiny tail of a dragon. It can be difficult to obtain permits for camping at Colchuck Lake. Times: 2-4 hr trailhead to camp, 3-6 hr camp to summit.

getting there

Drive US 2 east to Leavenworth. Just before entering town, turn right on Icicle Creek Road. Follow Road 8.5 miles to Bridge Creek Campground. Turn left and drive through campground, cross the river to Eightmile Creek Road (Forest Road 7601). Drive 4 mi to start of Lake Stuart Trailhead (3,600 ft).

APPROACH

Take Lake Stuart Trail for 2.5 mi, then go left on the Colchuck Lake Trail. Reach Colchuck Lake (5,57 ft) in another 1.8 mi. There are campsites on both the west side and the south end of the lake. Camp as near the south end as possible.

ASCENT ROUTE

Ascend snow (early season) or talus to glacier (no crevasses but can be icy by mid-season) and follow glacier to Colchuck Col. A couple of hundred ft. left (east) of Colchuck Col, ascend the couloir to a notch in the ridge (Pandora's Box). Drop down and left, then traverse left (northeast) to the summit; some parties use ropes for this part. Alternatively, about 30 ft below Pandora's Box, exit left and scramble up 4th class rock about 20 ft, then follow the ridge line left.

DESCENT ROUTE

Descend southeast to the saddle, then east on a long snow slope to Aasgard Pass. From Aasgard Pass descend to Colchuck Lake. Routefinding from Aasgard Pass can be tricky: stay to center left at top to avoid cliffs; below cliffs move to right side of gully. Alternatively, descend the climbing route.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HR) ELEVATION GAIN (FT)
Seattle to Trailhead 2.75
Trailhead to Camp 2-4 2,000
Camp to Summit 3-6 3,200
Summit to Camp 2
Camp to Trailhead 2-3

EQUIPMENT

Standard alpine equipment including crampons.

NOTES 

In early season, almost the entire descent can be glissaded. But use caution; serious accidents have happened glissading from Aasgard Pass. The ascent and descent can be reversed but the route-finding to get to Colchuck Col can be tricky. No credit is given for ascending and descending via Aasgard Pass.

Permits are required. Check with the U.S. Forest Service for access restrictions and trail conditions.

Recall that Pandora's Box was filled with - among other things - deception!

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Basic Alpine Climb, Strenuous 2, Technical 2
  • Elevation Gain: 5,440 ft
  • 8,840 ft
Map
  • Green Trails Mt Stuart No. 209
  • USGS Enchantment Lakes
  • USGS Mt Stuart
  • Green Trails Chiwaukum Mtns No. 177
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