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Ascent of Dragontail Peak on 1989-10-01

Climber: Chris Earle

Others in Party:Gary Vaughn
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, October 1, 1989
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Dragontail Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

Serpentine Arete, III 5.7. We parked the day before at the main Icicle Creek lot and hiked in to a camp near Colchuck Lake. On the way in we got busted for not having a permit. In October! Fortunately Gary had an old ID from New Mexico to give them. Otherwise, it was a gorgeous Indian summer day, the larches all golden, no snow except on glaciers. We started up the next morning before dawn, under a cloudy sky. The climb was lots of fun until the middle of the 6th pitch, when the first winter storm of the year decided to cut loose. High winds and freezing rain, fast changing to heavy snow. We thought about backing off but with only one technical pitch to go, pushed on ahead. Jamming up the last pitch my fingers were like little sticks of wood, no feeling at all, strange way to climb. By the time we were both on top the wind and snow had reduced visibility to maybe 10 meters and we had no real idea how to get down, just a Beckey description and a Green Trails map and a compass, and we got disoriented and nearly went off toward Ingalls Creek. Finally we found Aasgard Pass (it was dark by then) and started floundering down the trail through drifts that were sometimes chest-deep. Our pathetic 1986 headlamps were not helping much, fortunately it's a very well-maintained trail. About 9:30 pm we found the camp, the tent collapsed under 2-3 feet of snow, but everything still dry. Slept well and floundered down to the car the next day. Only a few inches of snow there. Most of the cars had been broken into and had smashed windows, but ours had been unlocked and nothing was gone except the beer.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:III 5.7
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, White-out



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