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| | |-+  May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
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Author Topic: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop  (Read 7230 times)

Posts: 2065

May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« on: 05/25/14, 02:10 PM »

Colchuck Peak from the Colchuck Lake trail.

Seeking a day trip for Saturday, I got an invitation from Tom Janisch to join a group of friends from Wenatchee for a loop around Dragontail Peak. Ross Freeman and I drove from Seattle Friday night and bivied at the Mountaineer Creek trailhead.

We met a fun group of Wenatchee folks, some of them old friends and some new, around 7 a.m. Saturday.  Tom, Ross and I were the only ones in the group with skis. We met LOTS of hikers during the day, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Climbing Colchuck Glacier beneath the west face of Dragontail Peak.

When we reached Colchuck Lake, the slopes below Aasgard Pass looked less snowy than we expected, but still skiable, so we switched from hiking shoes to skis and started up Colchuck Glacier. The snow on the glacier hadn't softened much yet and ski crampons or boot crampons were essential on the steeper sections.

Mount Stuart from the summit of Colchuck Peak.

From Colchuck Col, a few of us continued to the summit of Colchuck Peak, where we had great views of the Stuart Range. To the west, the Cascade Crest appeared cloudy, but Mount Rainier was seen rising above the clouds.

Climbing the Southwest Couloir of Dragontail Peak.

The southeast slope of Colchuck Peak would have been continuously skiable a week ago, but we had to make a short ski portage at one point. We packed our skis and followed a line of climbers up the southwest gully of Dragontail Peak, which our Wenatchee friends called Pandora's Box.

Descent options from the southwest ridge of Dragontail Peak.

There are several ways to descend from the southwest ridge to the basin south of Dragontail Peak. Ross, Tom and I descended the left-most option in the photo above (which drops from the top of the southwest gully). For climbers less comfortable on steep snow, it's best to leave the gully shortly before reaching the top and traverse the west side of the ridge for a while on rock. This leads to one of the higher descent routes shown in the picture.

Tom and Ross pause at the top of Snow Creek Glacier.

We reunited with our friends at the summit of Dragontail Peak. Our larger party had sorted itself into a loose collection of smaller groups (based on interests and pace), meeting at the most scenic viewpoints throughout the day.

Ross skis the upper slopes of Snow Creek Glacier.

Before descending from Dragontail, the walkers donned their rain pants for the butt-glissade to Aasgard Pass. Tom, Ross and I skied to the top of what's left of the old Snow Creek Glacier and watched the glissaders descend to Enchantment Plateau.

Ski tracks and glissade tracks on Snow Creek Glacier.

Then it was our chance. We enjoyed about a hundred turns on the upper glacier and paused with the glissaders to admire our tracks from below. It didn't matter how you got down--everybody was having fun.

Ross and Tom enjoy Bugaboo-like scenery during Memorial Day weekend in Washington.

From Aasgard Pass, we descended a short distance near the base of Dragontail Peak, then worked right (northeast) across some rocks to the main snowfield. From this point, we found continuous snow and good skiing all the way to the shore of Colchuck Lake.

Ross skis the main snowfield from Aasgard Pass to Colchuck Lake.

We judged that the ice at the south end of the lake was thick enough to support a skier, so we quickly glided around the shoreline to the end of the trail where he had left our hiking shoes.

Tom skis above Colchuck Lake.

Everyone arrived safely back at the cars around 7 p.m.  Ross and I thanked our Wenatchee friends for welcoming us along on their trip. It was a great day to be out in the mountains.

Ross and Tom skirt the margin of Colchuck Lake to return to the hiking trail.

« Last Edit: 05/25/14, 04:28 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged

Posts: 498

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #1 on: 05/25/14, 03:14 PM »

Cool TR and Photos.  That was my "plan B" in my head for the day... It looks like the sun was shining and the skiing was good all over east of the crest!  I happened to steal of couple of Wenatchee locals and convince them to head north.   Grin
mtneer ordinaire

Posts: 109

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #2 on: 05/25/14, 03:41 PM »

This is on my to-do list for next Spring.  Appreciate the photo captions including the description of the ascent up Pandora's Box.

Posts: 893

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #3 on: 05/25/14, 06:29 PM »

Looks like a great trip Lowell!  Thanks for the fun write up.  I like the photo of Tom skiing on Aasgard Pass with the lake in the background.  That track photo on Snowcreek Glacier is great too. 

Posts: 227

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #4 on: 05/27/14, 02:05 PM »

Beautiful photos!  We did a clockwise circumnavigation in '09.  Pandora's Box had set up much differently that year and I recall the down climb into the couloir was a little frightening!

Such a nice area...

mountains will add years to your life, and life to your years

Posts: 437

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #5 on: 05/28/14, 08:27 PM »

Man, what's average age of that Wenatchee crew?  Has to be getting way up there!

Thanks for the report and photos!

Posts: 564

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #6 on: 05/30/14, 01:10 PM »


Posts: 48

Re: May 24, 2014 - Dragontail Peak loop
« Reply #7 on: 05/30/14, 04:31 PM »

Perfect timing on the lake -- stunning colors and yet some ice for a fast glide across. Well done!
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