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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Dragontail Peak/Colchuck Col

Steep snow climb with a sporty rock scramble finish!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Party Size: 6

Departed from Stuart Lake TH at 4:30 AM. Arrived at Colchuck Lake around 6:30 AM. There was frost on the vegetation and the ground felt distinctly frozen. From the far end of the lake we ascended the rocky moraine until arriving at snow. From here we could see at least 8 people heading up the North Buttress Couloir on Colchuck. Recent snow had formed intermittent pockets of wind slab up to 8" deep making for a reasonable scramble with crampons up to Colchuck Col. Snow underneath the wind slab was bullet proof - no self belay possible, except with the pick. We arrived at Colchuck Col at 10 AM. The upper mountains all had a fluffy layer of fresh snow - enough snow to make rock scrambling messy. From Colchuck Col we dropped down (west) perhaps 50 feet and then headed east on snow and rock up the couloir toward Pandora's Box. About half way up the snow steepened and recent deposits of wind slab became less continuous. We found a spot to rope up and continued on a running belay (2x30m ropes, 3p per rope) up to Pandora's Box, down the other side, and about 150' of traversing beyond. It took quite a bit of hammering to get pickets in. Descending from Pandora's Box the recent snowfall (SE aspect) had warmed in the sun and made for sloppy conditions. Placed a couple pickets and cams through here. Good to have the running belay - two people had steps blow out resulting in the need to self arrest. Snow below the mushy layer was still too hard to get any kind of self belay with the shaft of the ice axe. We finished with some sporty class 3 scrambling (crampons on) over snow covered rock.  We enjoyed the summit from about 1:00 to 1:30 then began our descent via Aasgard Pass. Lakes above Aasgard Pass were still covered with snow with just a bit of blue meltwater forming at the edges. Getting down Aasgard Pass was tedious. The upper portion of the pass still had substantial snow (bullet proof hard, of course) with a thin layer of fresh snow on top and rocks poking out in various places. We soon picked up the trail proper (with cairns) and could finally take off our crampons. Returned to the trailhead at 7:30 PM.

 Gear: 2x30m ropes, 6 pickets, small rack