Reports on Cannon from Mike Collins and Fred Beavon influenced me to give this trip a try, as a loop trip up the burn and over Coney Lake, then Prusik Pass and out Asgard. I convinced my brother Andreas to tag along; he wanted some nice larch photos. He's a much more avid climber than I, so the notion of passing directly by Prusik Peak without racing to the top seemed quite profane. And the idea of climbing the burn slope of Cannon (which he'd skied before, along with the Couloir) in the fall with no skis struck him as almost as egregious. These themes came up from time to time, particularly while in the depths of the matchstick maze, still thousands of feet from even the first larch ...
We started from Colchuck trailhead about 7:30 and reached the washout on the abandoned road in short order. From here, we had hopes of finding some manner of trail but there's none really, though lots of small animal trails. It is just a matter of working your way through, over or around the burned logs. Thankfully, the accompanying underbrush is very minimal (at least it is this time of year). For the most part, the cross country travel really was not that bad, I'll take it over mossy talus and slide alder any day. We went more or less straight uphill from washout, then found the old firebreak for a while. We knew we had to be farther right, so after firebreak petered out we followed benches and breaks on a more rightward course and hit the ridgetop col pretty much dead on. Some steep needles and heather but no talus, yet. 3 hours from road to ridge.
Next step was deciding how to tackle Cannon. At least four gullies look workable, as did the very ridgeline, maybe. We chose a gully that lead onto the plateau perhaps 1/4 mile left of summit. This involved dropping about 2/3 way down to Coney Lake and then traversing across in a pretty obvious way to base of said gully. There were ice remnants, but easily avoidable. Gully fairly loose. I speculated that perhaps the trolls and giants who had done such a nice job of scouring the Enchantment's granite slabs and leveling out the Lost World had used this side of Cannon as their construction Dumpster, tossing all the choss down towards Coney Lake. Well, that's what it seemed like ...
Made Cannon summit in about 4:40. Summit scramble didn't particularly spook me, although the smallness of the summit doesn't really encourage a happy hour up there. Great views to Stuart and the Edward Mesa / Temple ridge areas.
Then onward across the fabled Druid Plateau. In some ways, seeing this place was the motivator for the trip. At this time of year though, the reflecting pools are completely dry, so pictures of rockhopping over the pools couldn't be obtained. Still a neat place, and there were plenty of interesting microdetails, such as little tinajas that would look right at home at Joshua Tree. Interesting also (but certainly less aesthetic) was one particular rocktop that seemed to have been the Shangri-La of Snaffle Shite - hundreds if not thousands of little pellets all accumulated in a deep rock bowl with a fine view of the Plateau.
My brother's got the better photos, I'll just throw a few of mine in here.
From Plateau we dropped skiers right and went past the Lorelei Lakelets, which were probably the scenic highlight of the trip. Larches here were the most vibrant, with the water as foreground or backdrop. Very pleasant cross country travel all through here. Found cairns before Prusik Pass that point out a helpful ledge system that avoids some talus unpleasantry and needless elevation loss.
I still wanted to fire up Enchantment Peak, with intent of going up and over and dropping to Asgard pass via the Black Dwarves. Andreas was less interested; one nontechnical summit in a day was enough slumming in scramble-land for his tastes, so he opted to head into the lakes basin. It was now 2:30 and we set a 4PM meet time at Asgard. In retrospect, that 1.5 hour time for up and over Enchantment might have been just a bit optimistic, even if things had gone well. And, well, they didn't go quite that well.
Started well enough. The NE summit is easy to get to from Prusik and great fun, and I was there in just 45 minutes. I started across one of the high plateaus toward the SW summit and a likely looking col, and ... a huge drop down the wrong side of the mountain. I peered over at least four likely-looking breaks, but none of them looked at all like a Good Idea. Damnation! I could not figure out how to get around the SW summit! I know people have done it, but somehow approaching from that angle without knowing whether the ledges below would go, the exposure, and really having to guess which notch was right was too daunting. I resigned myself to backtracking and being REALLY late for the meeting time. In a combination of foolishness and good fortune, I decided to commit to some elevation loss (and perhaps regain) to peer over one of the intermediate gullies that overlooked Talisman Lake to see if it reached. It did. That at least saved me from having to go all the way back to Prusik Pass, around the lake on the other side, up the trail gully etc.
While I really enjoyed the summit of Enchantment, my little side trip was now really putting the rush on. I was half hour late to the Pass, and my brother was nowhere to be seen (or heard from in response to shouts). He hadn't left any dirt-messages, so I wasn't sure whether he'd headed down, or was up attempting to meet me where I'd thought I'd be coming down, from around the Black Dwarves. I searched around a bit and scanned hillsides and determined he must have gone down. I soon met some late arrivals coming up from Colchuck who confirmed he was a long ways down already well ahead of me. Oh well.
Descent from Asgard rapid and predictably hard on the knees. There was no way I was going to catch Andreas (NO ONE catches Andreas), but I still wanted to haul so I didn't keep him waiting too long. Missed some good alpenglow photo ops going around Colchuck that I wished I'd stopped for now. Passed a few other day hikers going down that were going to log even more headlamp time than me. Had to switch on just shy of the Stuart/ Colchuck jct. and made it to the car about 7:45. My brother was huddled in the back of my truck, probably wishing that he had packed along an iPod and a puffy down jacket as I had. He'd been waiting there over an hour, I felt bad that my overambitious sidetrip plan hadn't worked out. Without that, we could've car-to-car'd it in 11 hours and gotten home a little earlier. However, I was glad to have seen that marvelous view from the top of Enchantment Peak, all the lakes spread out below and larch glow on all sides.
Cheeseburgers at Gustav's, then the drive home, capped by irritating nighttime roadwork delay on 522, man that was a long day.
Joined: 18 Dec 2001 Posts: 2842 | TRs | Pics Location: Near the Siamangs
Sun Oct 15, 2006 7:50 pm
Seems like a lot of folks have the same fun trying to combine Enchantment with something over towards Aasgard. When I did it I was trying to get over to Dragontail when I got stuck for a minute trying to find an efficient route that didn't mean a bunch of elevation loss. Eventually I found a little gully then an exposed traverse that got me over to easier terrain. Sounds like you may have done the same thing.
Eventually I found a little gully then an exposed traverse that got me over to easier terrain. Sounds like you may have done the same thing.
I might have looked at the same thing, but I didn't commit to it. The most likely looking gully from top was about 40 feet down and left from ridge, and went down choss about 30 feet to a drop. Whether there was a ledge at the bottom that could cross the quite cliffy S face of SW peak was out of view around the corner. Looking at pictures later, this was right by a little horn that can be seen sticking out of side of SW summit as seen from Dragontail, and it did look feasible. My route down was the gully that's pretty much equally between the summits, which plunges toward Talisman Lk and requires dropping at least 500 ft to get around the cliffs.
Joined: 04 Dec 2004 Posts: 1565 | TRs | Pics Location: Great Mystery
Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:46 pm
Very nice and fun report, Wolfs.
Steve Fossen and I were in the Enchantments on the same day. As I was headed down from Aasgard Pass two women asked if I was Wolf. I thought the question was rather strange, but they added that his brother was ahead and he wanted them to pass the message on.
Once I got to the N end of Colchuck Lake and was waiting for Steve, you came blazing by and we managed to get in a Hi in before you were gone.
I took another break down at the bridge that's near the split in the trail and waited for Steve, once he got there it was headlight time. As I struggled to get my headlight operational, Steve had taken a wrong turn and was headed towards Stuart Lake, I shouted out just in time as he was almost out of range. He was glad that I caught him, as the extra 4 miles of travel wasn't something he was looking forward to.
Glad you guys got down safely and had a fun filled adventure in the process.
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