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Colchuck Peak/North Buttress Couloir

Climb dates: March 7-8, 2015

Our party of six camped on Lake Colchuck after the long hike in from Bridge Creek Campground where the road is gated for winter. Camping on the frozen lake made finding a level spot easy but was eerie when it occasionally shifted and groaned underneath.

We had great views of Colchuck and Dragontail Peaks. There were many other climbing parties taking advantage of the terrific weather conditions, which was clear and calm but chilly at night.

We left camp at 6:15 a.m. after losing an hour to Daylight Savings Time. As we started up the North Buttress Couloir we climbed through knee-deep unconsolidated snow unsuitable for pickets. Arriving at the first constriction we encountered a short step of ice. After some discussion we decided to turn around rather than commit to a route with unknown conditions when retreat would have been difficult.

After downclimbing to the Colchuck Glacier we traversed east and headed up to the Colchuck Col and then on to the summit. At the col we spoke to a pair of climbers descending after spending the night in an unplanned bivy near the summit. They had climbed the North Buttress Couloir the previous day, found difficult conditions, and were unable to finish the route before being benighted. We felt pretty good about our decision to turn around.

 

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