Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Dragontail Peak/Triple Couloirs

A classic alpine ice and snow climb.

  • Road impassable/closed
  • Eightmile Road (FS 7601) is gated after the Bridge Creek campground which adds four miles to the approach. Microspikes are recommended for the hike between the trailhead and the lake. The route itself was largely stable snow with short sections of ice, nearly ideal conditions for climbing the Triple Couloirs.

After the long hike in we walked across the frozen Colchuck Lake and set up camp along the shore below the imposing north face of Dragontail. We left camp the next morning at 5:45 a.m. and started up towards the route.

While climbing the first ("Hidden") couloir we met two other parties of two. We followed the first party past the ice runnels and ended up too high in the couloir. After downclimbing a few pitches we headed up a small snow couloir which is described as Option 2 in both Beckey and Nelson/Potterfield. Near the top of the couloir we found a fixed piton that the group equalized with a couple nuts and all three teams rappeled down into the second couloir.

Once in the second couloir we simulclimbed, placing protection in tricky or exposed spots. We rapidly outdistanced the other parties who pitched out those sections.

We arrived at the summit at 12:30 p.m. They sky was overcast, the temperature was chilly, and out of shelter of the couloirs we were greeted with a stiff breeze. After summit snacks and selfies we headed down before the other teams arrived.

We plunge-stepped from Aasgard Pass down to the lake, packed up camp, trudged down the trail/road, and were back to car by 7:00 p.m.

Gear: We used a 30 m rope and carried pickets, ice screws, cams, and a small assortment of nuts, hexes, and pitons. We used the pickets, one cam, and one nut.


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Peter Erickson
Peter Erickson says:
May 01, 2017 09:12 AM

You are absolutely right, that is Option 2 we did. And so note: the inset photo on page 112 of Nelson/Potterfield Vol. I is mislabeled. The solid line in that diagram is not Option 1 (as the caption says) but instead Option 2. And what we ended up doing was a pleasant and safe (but still adventurous) variation of Option 2 in which we rappeled back into the runnels instead of attempting the ice-covered 5.8 rock moves. This left us with a short steep pitch of ice to exit the runnels and gain the second couloir. Splendid!

Tess Wendel
Tess Wendel says:
May 03, 2017 03:15 PM

Awesome, nice work!