Ascent of Colchuck Peak on 2018-09-01
|Date:||Saturday, September 1, 2018|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||8705 ft / 2653 m|
Ascent Trip ReportFrom 8/31 to 9/2 Trace and I climbed all 9 T100 peaks in the Stuart Range (minus Cashmere) and Witches Tower.
Day 0: Set up a car shuttle between Snow Lakes TH and Esmerelda TH.
Day 1 - Sherpa and Stuart
Slept in the Snow Lakes Parking lot then drove to Esmerelda TH early in the morning. Left Esmerelda TH at 7:30. Made camp in Ingalls Creek at the base of the Sherpa climbers trail. Climbed Sherpa via the E Ridge, mostly class 4 with a few moves of low 5th if you do your routefinding correctly. A single 30m rope works for descending, we made 4 raps off well-established stations. First rap just barely makes it to scramble terrain if using a single 30m rope. Found a great class 3 traverse through the cliffs on the south side of Sherpa, starting at 8200', the lowest we had to go was around 7950' to access the key gully next to the black pillar in Puzzlr's report: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=549147 From there dropped to 7800' in basin between Stuart and Sherpa, traversed a bit, and climbed a class 2/3 gully that granted access to easier terrain above. We met up with the Cascadian Couloir not far below the false summit of Stuart and continued on to the summit from there. Our most significant routefinding error of the trip came while descending the lower part of the Cascadian; we lost the route several times following game trails before we finally gave up and schwacked down to the Ingalls Creek Trail. About an 11.5 hour day in total.
Day 2 - Argonaut, Colchuck, Dragontail
Packed up and hiked 20 or so minutes down the Ingalls Creek Trail. Left trail ~100 feet east of Fourth Creek junction; proceeded more or less straight uphill on some nice game trails, deviating left at 5200' to avoid alder, then back to the right entering Argonaut's S gully at 5800'. No alder the entire way! From there climbed straight up the gully taking the left fork at 7000'. Climbed some class 4 climbers right on the way up, found a class 2/3 way skiers right on the way down. Following the summitpost description, we climbed up a chimney to access the summit block. We left the rope behind since we heard it was only one move of class 4 getting up over a chockstone, but I thought the climb involved several awkward 5th class moves, and there is some exposure. I did not like this without a rope especially on the way down. Final moves to the summit are class 3, great summit view. No water anywhere on the route, we got pretty thirsty! We dropped back down the gully to 6250' then made a slightly rising traverse east towards pt. 6737' (easy). We found a good way into Porcupine Basin at about 6700', class 2/3. From there we contoured up to Colchuck Col. Thankfully found a tiny trickle of water at 7300', and a great water source just south of Colchuck Col at the head of Porcupine Creek. Colchuck Col is a lonely place this time of year with the glacier so ablated. Made a quick ascent of Colchuck then hauled up through Pandora's Box. It was completely snow free, a few class 3/4 moves at the start to climbers right of the gully, then easy choss up and over to the basin S of Dragontail. Ran up Dragontail then made camp outside the permit zone between Dragontail and Little Annapurna. Beautiful bivy and great sunset. Cold and windy night, didn't sleep much.
Day 3 - Witches Tower, Little Annapurna, Enchantment, Cannon, McClellan
Left our cold and windy bivy and tagged Witches tower for a warm-up. Hiked up Little Annapurna via the NW slopes, then crossed the basin between Isolation Lake and Perfection Lake and climbed open terrain to 8200'. Traversed for a bit towards Enchantment Peak, climbed a class 3 gully near 8400' to access the flat area between the Enchantment Peaks. Tagged NE Enchantment then dropped down to Prusik Pass. Made the long slog out to Cannon, returned to Prusik Pass, then re-crossed the basin and headed for the two small lakes at 7000' NW of McClellan. From there climbed directly up class 2/3 slabs to the Prong gully (completely melted out this time of year), climbed class 3 rock climbers left of the Prong gully, then finished with a few class 4 moves on the W side of McClellan to the summit. Descended McClellan and endured the never-ending slog out the Snow Lakes trail to the car, finishing just before having to pull the headlamps out.
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