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*trace
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PostSat Sep 17, 2016 4:02 pm 
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9/10/2016
Enchantment peak -> Cannon -> McClellen -> Little Annapurna -> Dragontail.

I had originally planned to do this Sunday, but the NOAA forecast for high winds switched from nasty Saturday to nasty Sunday, so around 8:15 I left Seattle for the Stuart Lake TH.  I pondered my route until right before sleep going between Hel basin and Aasgard.  I ended up on Aasgard just because of less unknowns (or so I thought).  I left the car at about 5:30 and ran most of the way to the first bridge.  From there I slowed and cramped my way up to Colchuck in about 80 minutes.  I took a little break there and got to the bottom of Aasgard 2 hours in.  Aasgard only took 40 minutes of continuous movement.


I ran down the trail for a bit then headed up towards the Enchantment Plateau.  An easier way through the spires was found than my last trip and things were looking good to summit Enchantment peak within 3:30 from the car.  Then I made a horrible error.


I wanted to at least take a peek at the SW Enchantment peak.  I had run right past it on the way up, so I set down my pack and backtracked to take a look.  It was a big "nope" of hugely exposed class 5, so I headed back.  I am not sure if I put my pack on a rock and the wind blew it off or I just wasn't thinking and was rushing too much, but.....it was gone.  By the time I thought to look at the track it was a muddled mess of blue lines.   Soon my footprints were everywhere in the ambiguous boulder field.  At an hour in I decided to start marking the boulders with cairns to avoid repetitive searching.  By the time I found it, 90 minutes had passed.  I was pretty dehydrated. It was 10:15 and I had got to the top of nothing and made a really stupid error costing me a ton of time and energy.  SO dumb. No way this is still happening.  "Whatever.  Might as well get some exercise and enjoy the area while Im up here. "

I tagged Enchantment a few minutes after 10:20 and headed down the ridge towards prussik.  For some reason my map never loaded the topo lines, so I was kinda blind and went a little off route to Cannon.


It was just under 2 hours from Enchantment to Cannon.  It seemed pretty quick back to and down from Prussik.  I hit a monstrous traffic jam around the lake. One group of at least 10.  By around 2 I was at the foot of McClellen.


The prong gully was one of my areas of concern for the trip.  It's kind of steep for running shoes and crampons.  As it was, I didn't need snow gear here and worked left up horribly loose rocks a bit, then directly up to the foot of the prong on some solid 4th class. I went around to the scramble gully where I encountered my only goat of the day.  He/she was quite standoffish and matched every step I took forward with a forward motion back towards me.  Awkward.  Rock tossed.  Goat gone.  I reached the top of McClellen at about 2:40. My favorite summit of the bunch I sat up there and read the register until about 3 when I started down.


I went down the West face towards the prong.  A few class 5 moves to get onto the deck.  I stayed high on McClellen and weaved above and below a few snowfields arriving at Crystal Lake a few minutes before 4.  I lingered there for a few.  That one is pretty spectacular and worth the side trip.  A guy in an inflatable hooked a fish as I walked by.  I'd have to speculate at that exact moment he was one of the coolest anglers on the planet.


I took a direct line up the East side of Little Annapurna.  It was a very steep, slippery gully I ended up in, but it worked, and I rejoined the standard route and made my way towards the summit.  Pretty slow at this point.  I arrived at the top of Little Annapurna a few minutes before 5.


I talked to a nice couple who had daytripped up from snow lake, took their picture for them, then ran down the easy trail towards witches tower.  At the snow patch to get up to the South side of Dragontail, I found very frozen neve.  I had crampons, axe, and whippet so it was an easy front point up about 50' into the moat where a little bit of unexposed class 4 got me to the backside of Dragontail and into the sun.  Nice.  I messed up a bit and stayed level when I needed to ascend.  A quick correction and I found the right notches making good time towards Dragontail summit which I got to at ~6:45.


A few minutes were spent, then I gingerly descended the totally frozen snowfield towards Aasgard.  I stopped at the pass for a minute to get my headlamp on and extra batteries situated in a pocket, then started down.  At about 7:40 I was a bit down the pass. I reached up and turned on my headlamp and simultaneously heard a thunderous BOOM.   I spun around to see a very large puff of smoke up high to the East a bit of Sentinel.  I froze for a minute in awe as a van sized rock was coming apart as it fell.  It took a good bounce before I realized that not only did I need to hide, but I needed cover hard enough that it wasn't going to get decimated.  A baseball slide over a big, buried boulder provided this.  A big wash of rocks went over my spot, then it was random hummers and zingers for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally there was silence and I VERY quickly got down the pass.  There was a woman, lost, wandering by headlamp in the boulders up away from the one bridge.  I got her back on the trail and walked with her for a little bit to make sure she was good. All indications said she was, so I jogged the last couple miles to the car getting back a little after 10.  At the trailhead, I was questioned by another group who had just had the SAME encounter with the same woman.  Crap.  Did I just leave someone out there that may not have been able to stay on the simple trail from the stuart lake jct. to the TH?  They had already decided they were going to wait and make sure she made it out so I gave all the info I had and headed home.  I assume everything was fine. Had she given any indication she needed further assistance I would have happily provided.  I asked a few times if she needed me to walk her out and she said she was fine.  Im not sure if I should have handled it different or done something else there, so feel free to critique my decision to go home with the other group waiting for her.
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williswall
seeking tailwind



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PostSat Sep 17, 2016 4:29 pm 
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Awesome day, glad you finally found your pack. I think you were spot on in handling the lost woman situation, kudos to you in making sure she was OK and in no need of further assistance.

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"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

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zephyr
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aka friendly hiker
PostSat Sep 17, 2016 4:56 pm 
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*trace wrote:
I reached up and turned on my headlamp and simultaneously heard a thunderous BOOM.  I spun around to see a very large puff of smoke up high to the East a bit of Sentinel.  I froze for a minute in awe as a van sized rock was coming apart as it fell.  It took a good bounce before I realized that not only did I need to hide, but I needed cover hard enough that it wasn't going to get decimated.  A baseball slide over a big, buried boulder provided this.  A big wash of rocks went over my spot, then it was random hummers and zingers for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally there was silence and I VERY quickly got down the pass.

Whoa.  Just that alone is an amazing story.   eek.gif  Luck was with you in being far enough away and agile enough to take cover.  Also thank goodness this didn't happen at night or in limited visibility when you couldn't have understood the danger or found safety.  So much happened on this trip including helping the woman hiker and losing/recovering your pack.  So much to be thankful for.    ~z
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Brushbuffalo
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PostMon Sep 19, 2016 7:46 pm 
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When I first glanced at the image of your GPS track before reading the explanation I thought it was a blue climbing rope splayed all over. The truth was even stranger! Yikes!
Glad you found your pack, no doubt with your car keys and wallet inside.

That big rock coming after you must have been truly gripping. eek.gif

Curious about your route selection on McClellan. Of these peaks it's the only one I haven't climbed yet, and I had heard and read that it is class 3.
Any beta is appreciated since I hope to solo day-trip it this season before the big snows.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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puzzlr
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PostMon Sep 19, 2016 9:00 pm 
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An impressive amount of mountainous terrain covered in one day  up.gif

Thanks for telling the rock fall story. Briefly, my son and I were on snow under the 1500' vertical face of Sloan when I heard a similar noise. I thought about watching and ducking, but just said lay down flat. Luckily we weren't in the direct path but a few fist sized rocks cratered into the snow nearby. It confirmed my thought that watching and ducking is useless when rocks are approaching terminal velocity.

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Brushbuffalo
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PostMon Sep 19, 2016 9:27 pm 
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puzzlr wrote:
It confirmed my thought that watching and ducking is useless when rocks are approaching terminal velocity.

Exactly.  At near-terminal velocity a projectile would hit you a mere instant after you catch sight of it....if you see it at all.
In 1965 a  rock the size of my fist hit me right smack on top of my head, cracked my helmet, and knocked new out. If not for the helmet this rock wouldn't have stopped until it penetrated through  the rocks in my head down to about my Adams apple.  This rock fell a maximum of only 400' off The Tooth. I never saw it but heard only a high-pitched screaming whistle. My companions informed me on the details when I "came to".
Don't be like me on that picture to the left. That was on Frostbite Ridge  ( Glacier Peak) in 1978 and I should have known better by then.

As Yana urges, wear that helmet.  doh.gif

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Sep 19, 2016 9:43 pm 
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I was heading down Red (commonwealth) when an orange sized one hit me square on the noggin. Luckily my wife convinced we to wear my brain bucket that day. Now always wear one if in doubt. Do not want to become a drooling idiot any sooner than necessary.😬

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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*trace
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PostTue Sep 20, 2016 1:34 pm 
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Brushbuffalo wrote:
no doubt with your car keys and wallet inside.

Fortunately my car key was in my (zippered)pocket on me and my wallet stays very hidden in my car.

Brushbuffalo wrote:
Curious about your route selection on McClellan. Of these peaks it's the only one I haven't climbed yet, and I had heard and read that it is class 3.
Any beta is appreciated since I hope to solo day-trip it this season before the big snows.

As far as I know, the only decent way up from the main basin is generally the way I went.  You have to end up going through the prong gully one way or another.  The lower portions is just boulders and slabs and right now. Pending any snow, the prong snow finger can be skirted left on loose junk, then head directly up to the foot of the prong tower.  From there it is a walk to the summit block.  The side facing you (Westerly), is exposed 3/4 if you go straight up, or you can choose a couple class 5 stem moves in a slot to the right to avoid exposure.  If you walk around to the east side, there is a glass 3 gully that is just big boulders.  West face is simple and less tedious.  Prong gully is definitely the crux of that mountain.
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*trace
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PostTue Sep 20, 2016 1:49 pm 
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puzzlr wrote:
It confirmed my thought that watching and ducking is useless when rocks are approaching terminal velocity.

I agree.  just get down unless you can definitely hide.  A glancing bounce off your flat body will be infinitely better than a direct blow standing up.  Im not sure I would have reacted to the situation appropriately had it not been twilight and enough available light still was there to see a few hundred feet away without headlamp. Dim, but I could see.
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Stuke Sowle
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 8:38 am 
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Happy that I was able to see this report Trace and very helpful!  Congrats again on this huge day!

Had a close call myself with a beach ball sized rock hurtling down Disappointment Peak, had just enough time to take two steps back and watch it hurtle by.  I was surprised by how calm I was during and after the event.  Had it hit me it would have been game over.

Glad you made it safe!

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Enchantment Enchainment. A daytrip of all the core bulgers.
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