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| | |-+  February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
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Author Topic: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak  (Read 3344 times)
Peels
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February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« on: 02/17/15, 03:23 PM »

David and I got schooled by the Enchantments this weekend but had a fantastic adventure nevertheless.  Though we had both climbed Prusik at least once before and I had skied the traverse in 2012, we had never tried doing both in one weekend during the winter.  It wound up being one of those trips where almost nothing was handed to us, but we miss it so much already! 

We left the Snow Creek trailhead Saturday morning around 6 AM, having stashed bikes at Eightmile Road the night before.  Our packs were huge and travel was slow due to ice on the trail.  We contemplated donning crampons but decided to tough it out.  Somewhat surprisingly, we were able to start skinning at Snow Creek Wall.  This is about where my friend Kevin and I transitioned when we did the traverse a few years ago, so I started to feel a little more optimistic about the snow conditions.  The skinning wasn’t continuous, of course, but it was nice to take some weight off our backs.
 
We were both pretty tired going into the weekend but still made decent time up to Nada and Snow Lakes, following the summer trail and old hiking tracks.  Neither lake was frozen.  After Snow Lake, we slowed WAY down.  When I did this trip a few years ago, I remember sailing through this section, but it was a different story this time with the low snowpack.  David and I tried to follow the summer trail as much as possible but found ourselves ‘shwacking in fairly steep terrain.  Lots of booting and wallowing.  When the slope finally opened up, we made our way up to the ridge above Lake Viviane.   We topped out pretty far climber’s right of the outlet, but it was an easy ridge skin and descent to the lake.  We were happy to finally be there.  I think we arrived around 6 PM.
         
It was a gorgeous, windless night.  We were able to get water at the lake’s outlet, no snow melting required!  The next morning, we left camp around 9 AM, bound for Prusik Pass and the base of the west ridge.  The booting was easy and we made great time to the start of the route.  The route itself was harder than we expected.  We had toyed with the idea of doing the south face but decided the west ridge would be the safer bet.  In hindsight, David (who has now done both routes) thinks the south face would have actually been easier.   It certainly looked dry.  The west ridge, on the other hand, was substantially harder in winter conditions.  We didn’t need tools or ice pro, but the route finding was more challenging with the snow and the cracks and holds just weren’t as forthcoming.  I definitely pulled on a piece or two! 

The descent went perfectly.  Rapping into the abyss isn’t my cup of tea when I can avoid it, so David was kind enough to go first.  We were able to dig out the summit rap station, and he found existing rap stations for all but one of the other three raps.  We don’t necessarily think we did all the standard raps, but they worked great and we were psyched to find them.  We finished rappelling just as dusk was falling.  We were ready to turn our brains off but had to do a somewhat steep snow down climb and traverse back to Prusik Pass.  From Prusik Pass, it was a pleasant stroll back to camp.  The stars were phenomenal! 

The next morning, we woke up psyched for the upper Enchantments goodness and she delivered!  While we were on the climb, a group of hikers had passed through our camp, apparently in route from Aasgard Pass to Snow Creek, so we reversed their boot pack and meandered across the lakes.  It could not have been more stunning.

The descent from Aasgard Pass was hard.  Stronger skiers would have fared better, but we resorted to booting most of the way down.  No style points for us, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  The main challenge was the lack of snow cover coupled with the heavy packs.  It was rocky, icy, and (as always) a bit steep in sections.  The cramponing wasn’t bad, just a tad demoralizing.  However, the scenery more than made up for it, so we can’t complain too much.

The exit trail was treacherous.  We did not find it skiable.  In hindsight, we should have used crampons…. Microspikes would have been amazing.  Once at the Stuart Lake trailhead, we donned skis and managed to glide to within a mile or so of Icicle Road.  From there, it was a gleeful coast on our bikes back to the Snow Lake trailhead.  I think we arrived at the car around 10 PM.

It was a great weekend indeed!  I wouldn’t have changed a thing, though I can’t claim the Enchantments are in prime shape for ski touring at the moment. 


* PrusikPeakTay.JPG (100.32 KB, 640x478 - viewed 1759 times.)
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #1 on: 02/17/15, 03:34 PM »

Nice work! That's a good place to be when the snow is poor and the views are good.
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Peels
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #2 on: 02/17/15, 06:40 PM »

Thanks Charlie! I remember that you and Susan did a cool trip out there a couple of years ago!
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cumulus
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #3 on: 02/18/15, 07:21 AM »

Looks good! More photos!

Nice to read the report after Eric told us of your trip.
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Stefan
Peels
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #4 on: 02/18/15, 11:29 AM »

For some reason, I was having trouble adding more photos yesterday, but here's a link to the album.  Let me know if it doesn't work. :-) And here's a pic of Dragontail. 

BTW, I heard Poppy skied the Chutes over the weekend!  That girl is a champ! :-) 

https://plus.google.com/photos/113799246037132869263/albums/6116941655231830961?banner=pwa






* Traverse2.JPG (87.38 KB, 640x478 - viewed 1303 times.)
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joepa
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #5 on: 02/18/15, 01:29 PM »

Nicely done! Smiley
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avajane
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #6 on: 02/18/15, 08:40 PM »

Big classic traverse in February carrying climbing gear! Pulled off a winter ascent of Prusik Peak and did it all without epic-ing or getting jacked. Very nicely done.
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Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
Peels
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #7 on: 02/18/15, 09:53 PM »

Thanks everyone! :-) Gotta love 3 day weekends!
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kceronsky
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #8 on: 02/19/15, 07:16 PM »

I am hoping to visit the Enchantments some time soon for sight-seeing and to experience the place -- probably camping for two nights. Given the current conditions, would you suggest traveling by skis or on foot? We don't have ski crampons and were thinking winter boots with yak tracks.  I'd like to pull a sled... Thanks for the advice! Great report.
« Last Edit: 02/19/15, 07:29 PM by kceronsky » Logged
Peels
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Re: February 14-16, 2015, Enchantments/Prusik Peak
« Reply #9 on: 02/20/15, 01:39 PM »

Hi!

Excited for your trip!!  Thanks for the questions! 

So.... To ski or not to ski?  My standards are pretty low and I don't think I've ever regretted bringing skis on a trip.  We didn't carry ski crampons either, so I wouldn't necessarily let that hold you back.  However, given the current conditions, I have no doubt that travel would have been significantly faster on foot! :-)

That said, we did our fair share of wallowing when we were 'shwacking in the trees.  While you could have done the entire traverse without flotation this past weekend, I think it would be a bit of a gamble to go in there without anything.  So if you don't ski, maybe snowshoes would be helpful? 

I've never pulled a sled, so I don't have a good feel for what that entails.  However, we definitely spent a LOT of time with our skis off due to a lack of snow cover/tricky conditions.  Our skiing to hiking ratio was not favorable, so I can imagine you would be carrying the sled for a large part of the trip if you encounter similar conditions. 

Whatever you decide, YakTrax will be a HUGE help.  The exit was truly the crux of our trip.  I think it took us a good couple hours to descend the 1.7 miles between Colchuck Lake and the intersection with the main trail due to all the ice.

Hope this helps!  Have a great adventure!  Good luck!!
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