Colchuck Peak (8705')
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My climb of Colchuck Peak and Dragontail started particularly early. While driving down the Icicle Creek Road I managed to strike a deer at around 40 mph. I stopped for the deer which was way beyond my help. A nearby homeowner kindly called animal control and offered to stay until they came. The experience was startling and threw me off my game. According to the homeowner this is common along this stretch of Icicle road. Be careful if you are driving up there. Do your best to watch out for the deer.
The hike up to Colchuck lake seemed easy. After reaching the lake, I found myself stuck staring at Colchuck glacier. Nestled between the two peaks it looks daunting from below. From here It is a short walk around the lake and then the ascent begins.
Once I reached the rock field, I chose the easiest way up and began my ascent. The rocks in this area are huge and hard to scramble over. Then when you reach the I will be the first to admit that being on a glacier solo is not a brilliant idea. It takes knowledge, experience and more gear than a group would this time of year. Please do not copy my route if you are solo and do not have glacier training. The risks are extreme.
While climbing the glacier, I had one of those moments where I began to question my own sanity. The entire way up the ice was solid blue. Getting axes to stick in and trying to set up safety gear tested every ability I have in my toolbox. Even crampons were of little help in areas as the ice wouldn’t give. It took me a mere two hours to reach Colchuck Lake from the trailhead and it took the same to ascend ¼ mile of Ice. It is by far the shortest route up Colchuck Peak though and worth the effort if you have the skill.
Once at the top I took a breather and admired the view below before continuing on. If you are at the top of the glacier, go right on the small ridge to go for Colchuck Peak. The route is simple and winds along the back of the mountain until heading up to the rather large summit block. The scramble up the summit block was easy class 2-3 rock but does have a large drop off the one side. Standing on top was a serene moment. A step closer to my goal of soloing the Bulger Peaks. But, seeing Dragontail staring back at me tempered my spirit thinking of the trail ahead.
From the top of Colchuck Peak, the climbing route up Dragontail peak does not look obvious. For the most part it appears to be a mish-mash of spires and shows little evidence of access to the summit. If you head back to where the glacier crests between the two then you just go straight for around 150 ft. Walking around the side of the first spire you come to there is a barely noticeable gulley. Follow it to the top with some class 2-3 scrambling and it becomes an easy descent to the backside of Dragontail peak. The “trail” then winds along the side of the peak where the trail to the top was easy to find and well cairned.
Once on top I enjoyed a snack while reflecting on the day’s achievement. To return, I headed back down Aasgard pass and back to my car for the long drive home. The retreat is the worst part of the trail. I managed to make it through the day but the knee pounding on Aasgard was brutal I must say that I was somewhat disappointed by these two peaks. The views were excellent, as was the accomplishment of finishing both. The difficulty of the scrambling is far less intriguing than I had hoped for though, but I am being a spoiled PNW climber. Either way 2 solos down, 91 peaks left to go.