Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Colchuck Peak/East Route

A quick change in the weather made for an enjoyable weekend ascent.

  • Road impassable/closed
  • Eight Mile Road will be closed until May 15.  Walking the extra 3.6 miles added about an hour each way.  The trail has hard snow down the middle of it from the trailhead and post-holing will be the reality for a while.  Colchuck Lake is still mostly frozen, but the snow on top is melting rapidly and pooling.  All parties going around to Colchuck Glacier or Aasgard Pass walked along the lakeshore.  Snow still covers the boulder field at the back of the lake, but there were some gaping holes beginning to open.  Snow on the south slopes of Colchuck Peak is shallow in most places, with a crust.  

A call to the ranger revealed that the road would not be opened until permit season begins on May 15.  Our party of four was not deterred.  After an 80 minute road walk and three more hours of hiking on the well-trodden, hard-packed snow, we made a nice camp on the shore of Colchuck Lake.  It had been warm for the better part of a week, but snow level dropped to 5,000 feet, and we were greeted with light flurries during dinner. 

We woke to clearing skies and began ascending to Colchuck Glacier at 6am.  Climbers we talked to the day before bailed on a difficult route of Dragontail because the snow was too soft.  We experienced the wet-snow slog for ourselves walking around the lake on the way in.  Over night, however, everything hardened up and we made great time cramponing up to the col.  We went up directly west from there.  Much of this steep section has shallow snow and a crust that we broke through often enough to be annoyed.  But the sun was out, and it was much warmer up high. 

Sitting on the summit block, Stuart came into view between clouds for a few.  This was the finest hour of weather the entire weekend.  We shared cookies, smiles, and Bulger List counts.  A group of four climbers popped up shy of the summit from some northern couloir, hollering over their triumph.  The mood was great.


The way down was made easier by over 2,000 feet of glissading.  The rest of the crew opted to walk, as plunge-stepping was made easy by the slight warming of day.  We carried out a fair bit of fresh trash from the lake and trail, in addition to finding feces smeared on a rock, right on the lakeshore, with the accompanying toilet paper.  Seems the road being closed is not deterring backcountry slobs from getting out.   It took four hours to hike back to the car from the lake with a couple of breaks.  A long 20 mile, early season outing.  Exceptionally rewarding, and always a great time with this tight group of Mountaineers.

GPS track here.

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