Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Dragontail Peak/Aasgard Pass

Single day scramble up Dragontail peak via Colchuck col including a jaunt to Little Annapurna

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail from TH to Colchuck lake is very well maintained.

    Beware of rockfall hazards on Colchuck glacier esp later in the day.

    Aasgard pass is melting out soon - some postholing can be avoided in the upper sections by keeping to skier's right if you are comfortable with moderately steep snow.

Given the warm weather forecast we decided on a 4 AM start from the TH to not only beat the crowd on the trail but also for more favorable snow conditions during the descent.

We left TH at 04:03 hrs and made good time at a steady pace to the lake reaching the lake around 06:10 hrs. Skirted around the lake and stopped at the other end for water refill. We then went straight up the boulder field (occasionally loose) until we hit snow right at the base of Colchuck glacier (~6200') - this is where we switched from trail to mountaineering mode (boots + crampons). The snow conditions were perfect and we also found a bootpath for parts of the ascent upto the col.
The ascent to the col was uneventful with us taking turns to kick some steps at times. At the col we were welcomed by spectacular views of Mount Rainier . Knowing that we will be in steep hard snow soon for the ascent towards Pandora's box we kept our crampons on for the short rock/scree section at the col.
From the col stay on the same contour line and skirt around (South-East) the direct ridge towards Pandora's box when a steep snow gully will present itself. It was a steep ascent but again the snow conditions were just right for the crampons to dig in and make for a straight forward ascent. One of our crew member decided to give the rocks a shot (climber's right) but the terrain seemed to transition soon out of scramble zone  so advice to stick to the snow gully.
Enjoyed some more breathtaking views from the base of Pandora's before we dropped on another steep snow finger for our summit traverse.
Scramble to the summit following the downclimb was pretty straightforward. It's pretty much a choose your own path fun rock scramble to the peak. 
Reached summit around 11:15 hrs.
Enjoyed more incredible views of Rainier, Adams, Glacier, Baker, Daniels and of course the majestic Stuart on one side and the core enchantments on the other :). The views coupled with practically zero wind made a compelling case to spend more than 30 mins at the summit.
Given the good time we made upto the summit we started giving a jaunt to little Annapurna some serious thought and all of us decided to go for it.


We stayed pretty much to the right of the Southeast ridge before dropping down a little to the other side of the ridge (between Dragontail peak- Southeast Peak and Boola Boola Buttress). Once we were down to ~8100' it was pretty much a walk up to Little Annapurna. Reached the summit around 13:20 hrs. Spent about 5 mins at the summit and off we went shooting for a 'Core-Direct' route which essentially went straight North aiming at intersecting the core trail around 7500'.
Quick water refill break and we continued off the Aasgard pass trail for another 300' of drop (skier's right of Aasgard pass trail) finally meeting the trail at ~7200'. 
Uneventful descent down the pass following cairns until we saw a SAR bird circling around the Colchuck glacier. It turned out to be a medevac for a climber hit by rockfall on the glacier. 


Switched back to approach shoes at the end of the boulders in the pass and hiked back the Colchuck lake trail trying to outrun(outfly?) the bugs.
Back to cars at 19:13 hrs making it a 15hrs12min day with 15.2 miles and 6500' elevation gain.


All good things come to an end and so did this spectacular day in the enchantments with a strong and competent crew of mountaineering friends.