|Doerte, Mike, and Dan on the summit of Culchuck Peak,
8,705'. Mount Stuart is behind Dan!
Colchuck Peak, 8,705'!
All photos by Dan Cervelli!
After our dayhike the week before up to Colchuck Lake, Doerte and I just had to return and try for the peak. Dan Cervelli was hiking in later in the day to join us, which made for an ideal strong party of three. This time, with overnight packs, it took 2 hours, 25 minutes to go the 4.5 miles to the lake. We were amazed that most of the snow had melted off the trail in just one week. We camped on dry ground where the week before there had been three feet of snow.
A strong front was blowing through, and although it remained mostly sunny, the clouds moved extremely fast by the summits of Colchuck and Dragontail high above. Around the corner, to Mt. Stuart, the valley was socked in with clouds.
I climbed up to the moraine, below the remains of the Colchuck Glacier, to check out the conditions. I found lots of wind, and extremely soft afternoon snow, postholing to my waist sometimes. Two skiers ascended with me and had a wild run down. I was amazed at their skill.
Dan arrived later in the day and we made plans to start at first light, 5 a.m., to ensure we had firm snow up the Col. The fast moving clouds became less as the day came to a close. We were hopeful that Sunday would be clear and calm. I couldnt imagine being on the summit ridge in the wind! We woke in the middle of the night to hear only the silence of the sound of running water! The wind had stopped.
Its about a mile around the lake on the trail to where the route begins to go up to the Colchuck Glacier. The snow was firm and perfect for steps. Two parties of two ascended with us. We were actually a loosely connected party of seven. Beyond the moraine, we stopped and put on crampons for the steepest section. To our right was Colchuck Peak and to the left was Dragontail. Doerte and Dan soon left me behind heading for the saddle at the top of the Col. We stayed in the middle to avoid any falling rock.
At the saddle, we found some sun for the first time, and enjoyed a nice break, before continuing up the sometimes-steep rock, snow, and ice to the rock summit at 8,705. Total time up was 3 hours, 45 minutes from camp. We had a wonderful view of Dragontail next door at 8,840 as well as Mount Stuart, Argonaut Peak, Sherpa Peak, Mount Cashmere and Mt. Daniel. Glacier Peak, and other big volcanoes were sharp, clear, and close! We all spent a long time on the summit, talking, having lunch, and were reluctant to head down.
The descent down to the Col was slow and careful with self-belays. A lot scarier down than up! We had a nice series of long glissades back down to the still frozen Colchuck Lake. We were surprised all the skiers were just starting up, but I guess they waited for the softest snow.
A nice early season climb, with mixed snow and rock. The Col gets icy late in the season. Strong climbers can also do Dragontail from same saddle. We saw one party going that way. Dragontail can also be climbed via Aasgard Pass.
can order Grand Canyon books and other hiking guides from:
|This website is a photographic and descriptive resource of routes and climbs, not a hiking guide. By using this site the viewer releases the creator from any and all liability. Hiking/climbing is a potentially dangerous activity and requires proper equipment, skill, experience, preparedness and awareness at all times.|