Forum Index > Trip Reports > Gettin' some Tail (Dragontail and SE Dragontail); 6-20-09
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GeoTom
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GeoTom
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PostSun Jun 21, 2009 9:37 pm 
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Trip overview:
Crew: Schmidt Alti-Babe, yukon222, GeoTom, Soapy
Maps: Green Trails #209s The Enchantments and a couple TOPO! creations
Access: Highway 2 > Icicle Road > Eightmile Road
Trails/Route: Lake Stuart #1599 > Colchuck Lake #1599.1 > Aasgard Pass
Mileage: ~15 total (Based on guidebook info, GPS might differ)
Elevation Gain: ~6,200 with the ups and downs. (Based on guidebook info, altimeter log might differ)
Summits: Dragontail Peak (8,840), SE Dragontail Peak (8,760)

Trip Details:
I had originally hoped to head up into this area last weekend before permits were required and ascend Dragontail and possibly one or more other peaks in the area. However, the weather forecast called for thunderstorms so we cancelled the trip. Wildernessed managed to get in and out before the weather moved in, and provided some good info for this weekend.

All week I sat at my desk anxiously waiting for the latest forecast on the NWS website. The pinpoint forecast was clicked many times in various locations in hopes that the forecast would improve. By Thursday night it looked acceptable. Then Friday morning I woke up to discover that it had deteriorated.  bawl.gif During the day Friday it improved slightly, then stabilized. A flurry of emails took a drive on the information superhighway and eventually we all agreed to just go for it, with a backup plan or two in place should the actual weather make a turn for the worse.

A few minutes past their expected pickup time of 5:23 pm, yukon and the Alti-Babe arrived to pick me up. The drive over Stevens Pass went smoothly, and we arrived in Leavenworth with plenty of time to spare for a nice dinner and finding a spot to set up the tents and get some needed sleep. zzz.gif
It looks like a dragon...right?
It looks like a dragon...right?

Morning came and I had to put my contacts in to believe what I was seeing: Clear skies!  cool.gif We packed up and drove the short distance to the trailhead. I was ready to go before Alti-Babe and yukon (about the only time I was ahead of them all day), so I went to the trailhead register and filled out the day use permit. I briefly chatted with one guy who was headed up to Colchuck Balanced Rock. I asked him nicely not to trundle it into Colchuck Lake.

We had originally planned to ride some quads up the trail to the Stuart Lake/Colchuck Lake junction, but the trailhead bulletin board said that they weren't allowed, so we started out on foot. The trail was entirely snow free to Colchuck Lake, where we took a nice break in the sun and had a snack. The way around the south end of Colchuck Lake to the base of Aasgard Pass went smoothly, with only a couple minor snow patches. It was at this point that the first clouds appeared above the Colchuck Col. The skies were still mostly clear, so we continued our ascent.
Enjoying the morning sun
Enjoying the morning sun
Dragontail over Colchuck Lake
Dragontail over Colchuck Lake
Colchuck Peak reflected in 'Warmchuck' Pond
Colchuck Peak reflected in 'Warmchuck' Pond
Colchuck Lake and Cashmere Mountain
Colchuck Lake and Cashmere Mountain
Alti-Babe emerges from the rocks
Alti-Babe emerges from the rocks
Clouds over Colchuck
Clouds over Colchuck

Having been denied our quad ride at the beginning of the trip, we were hoping that Alti-Babe could put her horse riding skills to use and find a couple goats to take us up Aasgard Pass. None were to be found though, so we started the steep ascent on foot. The route was mostly snow free. One large snow patch was still fairly hard as we crossed over it, but it could have been avoided quite easily. We eventually reached the top of Aasgard Pass, and took a break so I could recover.
Jabberwocky Tower
Jabberwocky Tower
Cashmere Mountain and Colchuck Lake
Cashmere Mountain and Colchuck Lake
Yellow and Red Gummi Bears lead the way
Yellow and Red Gummi Bears lead the way
Hard snow patch
Hard snow patch
Back on the 'trail' to Aasgard Pass
Back on the 'trail' to Aasgard Pass
Eightmile Mountain and Axis
Eightmile Mountain and Axis
Rock spires
Rock spires
Colchuck Lake and peaks
Colchuck Lake and peaks
yukon scouts our route while Alti-Babe plans future hikes
yukon scouts our route while Alti-Babe plans future hikes

With the Snow Creek Glacier route in view, we stopped at the edge of the rocks to put on crampons. The snow was soft enough that we probably could have gone without them, but not so soft that it was balling up. I had some fit issues at first, and yukon and Alti-Babe pulled ahead further than they normally would have. With my crampons adjusted correctly, I managed to close some of the gap and got within shouting distance of them. Near the ~8,500' saddle we saw a group of 3 climbers descending from Dragontail as well as the goat vwe had intended to ride up Aasgard Pass. Even though yukon and I egged her on, Alti-Babe refused to jump on the goat, even for a photo.  shakehead.gif
The route up Snow Creek Glacier
The route up Snow Creek Glacier
Mist Pond and Mist rock pile
Mist Pond and Mist rock pile
Wait for me
Wait for me
McClellan Peak and Witches Tower
McClellan Peak and Witches Tower
Enchantment Lakes basin
Enchantment Lakes basin
Moody sky above
Moody sky above
Climbers of various species
Climbers of various species
The Enchantments
The Enchantments
The goat heads for the snow
The goat heads for the snow
How is my scruffy pose?
How is my scruffy pose?

Crampons came off at this point, and we walked the last 300 feet to the summit. The sky was overcast, and the top of Stuart was obscured (sorry iron), but we could see most of the Enchantment Basin and surrounding peaks as well as the Teanaway area peaks. We saw a group headed over from Pandora's Box and met a solo climber on the summit. He recognized Soapy from my summit shots, and introduced himself as raising2hikers. He had made a quick ascent of Colchuck and traverse over to Dragontail. Usually I am recognized because of Jasper dog, but this was the first time I was recognized because of my slightly smaller partner.  lol.gif We enjoyed the views on the summit and took a nice relaxing break chatting with each other and the Mounties group that arrived shortly after us.
Alti-Babe ascends with poles ready to fend off pika attacks
Alti-Babe ascends with poles ready to fend off pika attacks
A look to Pandora's Box
A look to Pandora's Box
Enchantment Lakes
Enchantment Lakes
Stuart hiding, but Colchuck, Argonaut and a bit of Sherpa showing
Stuart hiding, but Colchuck, Argonaut and a bit of Sherpa showing
Shoes
Shoes
yukon in yellow
yukon in yellow
Soapy on Dragontail
Soapy on Dragontail
A slice of Colchuck Lake
A slice of Colchuck Lake
Cannon Mountain, Enchantment Peak, Prusik Peak and Mt. Temple
Cannon Mountain, Enchantment Peak, Prusik Peak and Mt. Temple
All smiles on Dragontail
All smiles on Dragontail
The Teanaway
The Teanaway
East Dragontail Plateau
East Dragontail Plateau

Refreshed, rehydrated and ready to descend, we were dismayed to find out that wilderness regulations prohibited us from using our hang gliders. Instead of carrying them all the way back down with us, we pushed them off the north side of the peak and hoped they would end up near Colchcuk Lake so we could grab them on our way back. If not, they would at least make an interesting geocache.

We got back to the saddle to find our goat friend still waiting for someone to pee. Alti-Babe and yukon wanted to head over to Southeast Dragontail Peak and possibly loop out that way. I was having some stomach issues and was thinking about glissading back to Aasgard Pass and waiting for them there, but they berated me for not being tough enough and to take it like a man. What else could I do but follow them? Besides, yukon had the car keys.

The traverse over to SE Dragontail went quicker than I expected, and soon enough we were at a point ~10 feet shy of the summit. Yukon was able to reach for a hand and foot hold and get to the top. Being in the 5'-5" and under club, Alti-Babe was not able to reach the holds, but yukon managed to hoist her up enough so she could finish the last bit on her own.  up.gif While I am too tall for the club, I was still unable to reach the hold without a little assistance from above. I was worried about yukon's ability to hoist me as I am significantly more, um, stout, than the Alti-Babe, but he is stronger than he looks and soon enough we were all on the top, peering down at Witches Tower below.
Heading toward SE Dragontail
Heading toward SE Dragontail
Argonaut Peak in the distance
Argonaut Peak in the distance
Almost to SE Dragontail
Almost to SE Dragontail
Spires along the East Dragontail Plateau
Spires along the East Dragontail Plateau
Lending a helping hand
Lending a helping hand
McClellan Peak and Little Annapurna
McClellan Peak and Little Annapurna
Looking down on Witches Tower
Looking down on Witches Tower
Little Annapurna
Little Annapurna
Tahoma makes a fleeting appearance
Tahoma makes a fleeting appearance

We descended the few feet to solid ground, and decided against looping out by Little Annapurna and the upper Enchantments but instead retraced our steps to the saddle and glissaded to Aasgard Pass. One earlier glissade track stopped at a large exposed rock, so we made a new track that avoided the rock. For only the second time all day I was in the lead, but that changed after the glissade. The descent down Aasgard Pass and around Colchuck Lake went well, and a last break was taken before the slog back to the trailhead.
Glissading about to start
Glissading about to start
yuk-isade
yuk-isade
Heading back to Aasgard Pass
Heading back to Aasgard Pass
Witches Tower and Dragontail spires again
Witches Tower and Dragontail spires again
Colchuck Lake
Colchuck Lake
Descending from Aasgard Pass
Descending from Aasgard Pass
Cashmere Mountain above Colchuck Lake
Cashmere Mountain above Colchuck Lake
Lingering clouds over Dragontail
Lingering clouds over Dragontail
Goodbye Colchuck Lake
Goodbye Colchuck Lake

On our crossing of Mountaineer Creek we encountered some gang activity, but avoided any confrontation by flashing the sekrit NWHikers gang signs:
Representin' the NWH posse on the Colchuck set
Representin' the NWH posse on the Colchuck set

As noted by others, the trail seemed to grow by a couple miles on the way out. A similar thing happened to Highway 2, but eventually we pulled down my street and they were nice enough to slow down to under 5 mph as they kicked me out. Sleep came quickly after a shower that Dani encouraged me to take.

Thanks guys for a good trip.  up.gif

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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostSun Jun 21, 2009 9:43 pm 
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Nice work you guys.  I remember 'Magellan' being dismissed on a trail when they found out I was hiking with an NWH legend, 'EastKing'.  shakehead.gif
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Sennin
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 7:21 am 
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Nice TR....thanks!!
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wildernessed
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 8:12 am 
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up.gif Strong work, and good shots from East Dragontail, especially of the route to Witches Tower.

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wamtngal
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 8:27 am 
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Dangit! So the weather didn't squash your plans...sigh...I guess I have to say, "good job" then.  tongue.gif

Nice write-up GT, as always, it made me laugh. I especially liked the fact that out of all three -- errr four -- of you, Soapy was the one who got recognized. Of course this must be due to his reckless behavior. I bet he was hanging off the side of some rock with hundreds of feet of air below him when he was spotted by raising2hikers.

And good summits y'all!  up.gif  up.gif
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silence
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 9:34 am 
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really great tr and pix ...  way to get er done  up.gif

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yukon222
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 10:34 am 
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Thanks for writing up the TR, Tom!  It was a very fun trip - worthwhile to break up the driving a bit by driving over to the Icicle Friday night and getting an early start when the weather was crystal clear.

I'll post my set of pictures tonight.  Similar but different than yours.   hmmm.gif  hockeygrin.gif
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BigSteve
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BigSteve
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 10:39 am 
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Great pics, GeoTom. up.gif  Lauds for heading east to avoid the June on-shore crap weather.   DT has seen lots of NWHikers in the past few weeks.
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seattlehikertoo
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 10:57 am 
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Another nice trip. Very iffy weather will continue for the next 5 to 10 days, but better the further south and east you go. Expecting it to warm up a bit later this week. Where are the Alti-Whippets?
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GeoTom
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 11:00 am 
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Thanks for the comments, and looking forward to your photos yukon. You did take a couple, right?  biggrin.gif



seattlehikertoo-

Dogs are not allowed in these areas. The Alti-Whippets and Jasper had to stay home for this one. Soapy may not have technically been allowed either, but he lives by his own set of rules.

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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 11:06 am 
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Oh sh*t, that's right. Slipped my mind because I am so used to seeing them.
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 12:36 pm 
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Great report, GeoTom, wonderful pictures and story telling!  up.gif

Looks to have been a great trip, lot of work.  I'm so glad the weather held firm for you all - those blue skies are fantastic!
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Ingunn
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 12:57 pm 
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Huzzah, I'm glad you didn't get snowed on! Looking forward to the rest of the photos.

Too bad Jasper isn't allowed as he really needs to get some tail. Well, at least a tail.
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raising3hikers
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 5:39 pm 
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Very nice TR and pics up.gif Good job on also getting to the top of the SE peak, it looked like a tough climb.  Also, it was very nice to meet the 3 of you at no better place than the summit of a nice, scenic peak.
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yukon222
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PostMon Jun 22, 2009 9:23 pm 
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Here are some of my pics from Saturday's very enjoyable climb.  I never get tired of popping over the ridge and seeing Colchuck Lake with Dragontail soaring above it.  Spectacular setting.
DSD_1906 Cannon Mountain glowing in early morning light
DSD_1906 Cannon Mountain glowing in early morning light
DSD_1915 Last glissade chute down Colchuck
DSD_1915 Last glissade chute down Colchuck
DSD_1917 Colchuck commands attention
DSD_1917 Colchuck commands attention
DSD_1931 Sun lights up Jabberwocky Tower
DSD_1931 Sun lights up Jabberwocky Tower
DSD_1938 Classic Colchuck Lake view
DSD_1938 Classic Colchuck Lake view
DSD_1940 GeoTom pauses 1/3 of way up Aasgard Pass
DSD_1940 GeoTom pauses 1/3 of way up Aasgard Pass
DSD_1943 Lines of Dragontail
DSD_1943 Lines of Dragontail
DSD_1944 Dizzying views...
DSD_1944 Dizzying views...
DSD_1946 Dragontail's summit
DSD_1946 Dragontail's summit
DSD_1952 GeoTom climbs sweeping lines of snow to Dragontail Col
DSD_1952 GeoTom climbs sweeping lines of snow to Dragontail Col
DSD_1954 Witches Tower (main route on opposite side)
DSD_1954 Witches Tower (main route on opposite side)
DSD_1956 "You dare to enter my realm?!?!
DSD_1956 "You dare to enter my realm?!?!
DSD_1966 Contentment in Enchantments
DSD_1966 Contentment in Enchantments
DSD_1974 Ready, set, ....
DSD_1974 Ready, set, ....
DSD_1979 "Hmm, should I charge or ...."
DSD_1979 "Hmm, should I charge or ...."
DSD_1981 Natural power
DSD_1981 Natural power
DSD_1984 Goat doing a bit of two-steppin...
DSD_1984 Goat doing a bit of two-steppin...
DSD_1987 Thanks for dropping by for a visit
DSD_1987 Thanks for dropping by for a visit
DSD_1989 Climbers arriving from Pandora's Box (& Colchuck)
DSD_1989 Climbers arriving from Pandora's Box (& Colchuck)
DSD_1994 Looking south from Dragontail
DSD_1994 Looking south from Dragontail
DSD_1996 Slot at Pandora's Box
DSD_1996 Slot at Pandora's Box
DSD_1998 GeoTom cautiously peers over 3,000' Dragontail drop
DSD_1998 GeoTom cautiously peers over 3,000' Dragontail drop
DSD_2001 48" boulder barely, barely hanging above Colchuck glacier route
DSD_2001 48" boulder barely, barely hanging above Colchuck glacier route
DSD_2002 Argonaut arches into sky
DSD_2002 Argonaut arches into sky
DSD_2012 AltiBabe slides back down off of SE Dragontail summit
DSD_2012 AltiBabe slides back down off of SE Dragontail summit
DSD_2019 Enchantment Peak summit block
DSD_2019 Enchantment Peak summit block
DSD_2026 Miniature flowers and moss at 8700'
DSD_2026 Miniature flowers and moss at 8700'
DSD_2028 AltiBabe glissades down from Dragontail Col
DSD_2028 AltiBabe glissades down from Dragontail Col
DSD_2059 Carving a few turns...
DSD_2059 Carving a few turns...
DSD_2078 Working our way past Mist Pond to Aasgard Pass
DSD_2078 Working our way past Mist Pond to Aasgard Pass
DSD_2081 Pause before start of the descent down Aasgard
DSD_2081 Pause before start of the descent down Aasgard
DSD_2082 Witches Tower enjoys brief sunlight spotlight
DSD_2082 Witches Tower enjoys brief sunlight spotlight
DSD_2088 Almost back down to Colchuck Lake
DSD_2088 Almost back down to Colchuck Lake
DSD_2093 Cashmere Mountain to the north
DSD_2093 Cashmere Mountain to the north
DSD_2096 Colchuck Lake lapping at the shore
DSD_2096 Colchuck Lake lapping at the shore
DSD_2099 Colchuck & Cashmere
DSD_2099 Colchuck & Cashmere
DSD_2128 Dragontail and little Colchuck Col
DSD_2128 Dragontail and little Colchuck Col
DSD_2132 Goodbye Dragontail...
DSD_2132 Goodbye Dragontail...
DSD_2135 GeoTom savors Mountaineer Creek
DSD_2135 GeoTom savors Mountaineer Creek
DSD_2144 Last crossing of Mountaineer Creek
DSD_2144 Last crossing of Mountaineer Creek
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Gettin' some Tail (Dragontail and SE Dragontail); 6-20-09
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