Joined: 27 Dec 2001
Posts: 187 | TRs
Location: Livin' large in Mill Creek
|The plan was to climb three high peaks in the upper enchantments this weekend, Dragontail East Ridge, Colchuck Peak, and Witches Tower.
Friday May 17th Craig met me on Friday night at 8 mile bridge campground. I got there early and got us a spot, then hiked across the orad and found an easy sport route for us to climb on. We did a couple of climbs, and then returned to camp when it got dark. Sergio and Agata then arrived around 830pm (finally got to meet her!) and we sorted gear and read up on the climb we were most excited about - Witches Tower. A simple 5.5 3 pitch climb in the Upper Enchantments that is about .2 miles east of Dragontail. We divied up pro, and packed our bags.
Saturday May 18th 5am (beep, beep, beep, beep!) The road to the trailhead is snowfree, and snow is not encountered entirely untill the Stuart Lake/Colchuck Lake junction (2.5 miles in). From here it is tiring, as the trail that is blazed is pretty direct, snowshoes required at this point.
We postholed, we grunted, and we swore as we ascended dirty slopes, branch belays, and hard stemming routes on branches and trees....all with heavy packs. Sergio and Agata really enjoyed having snowboards on their packs as they planned on boarding the Colchuck Glacier on the descent down. I was going to bring my skis. We encountered rain, and were unhappy with it's presence. Craig and I kept a positive attitude about it all though, reciting "This is not happeneing" Especially since Friday was absolutely beautiful, with blue skies. The snow was thick, and sticky - I hated it. But we all trudged on.
We finally arrived at the lake only to find more rain. It was warm, real warm.
We set up camp on the south end of the lake below Colchuck Col. We also found a large boulder the size of a 2 car garage that served as our gathering area, with a roof and all the pleasantries of home. Sergio and I then took off to gain the Colchuck Col via the Colchuck Glacier. We arrived at the Upper Basin and then took off the snowshoes and donned our crampons as they snow was pretty solid, and started to get a little steeper. The visibility was next to nothing heading up to the Col (elev 7800') and at about we saw Chirs, Dave, & Tom camped out in their bivys at about 7000'. Tom joined Sergio and I as we ascended the last few hundred feet to the col. It was pretty steep on the right side, but we wanted to stay out of the debris path as it was a prime angle for more debris to come down (even though avy danger was very low). We hit the col and turned around immediately. Sergio got on his board and arrived at camp in about 5 minutes while Tom and I took our sweet time , and then I glissaded back to camp oince we arrived at their high camp. I was wet and tired at this point. My shoes were soaked, and my ass was wet as well. I shivered in my bag in the tent for awhile, not too excited about how the night would be since I left my down jacket in the car, and only had my 20 degree bag with me. We had dinner, and then watched the alpenglow hit the surrounding peaks. I actually slept quite warm that night.
Sunday May 19th 530am I awoke to yucky weather again , and no one else wanted to wake up so I went back to bed.
730am We awoke, put out tails between our legs and took off on one awful descent. Postholing, falling, faceplants, and more. I was sick and tired at this point. Once we got near the dirt trail, Craig and I started to book, running at spots with our full packs. We got back quite quickly, with the last of the party getting back to the TH 1.5 hours after we did. We got to relax in cotton and drink cold sodas.
Now the fun was going to begin! Burgers at Gustovs, and sport climbing in Leavenworth, but that's another report!
Images available at nwog.org