Ascent of Dragontail Peak on 2014-09-12

Climber: Jeffrey Wright

Others in Party:Priti Wright -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Friday, September 12, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Dragontail Peak
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

Backbone is a quality climb with solid rock, we did the Kearney variation accidentally (adds 5.8 + 5.9 pitches in place of Fin 5.7). Approach: Climb the Colchuck Col along the obvious lateral moraine until it tops out/levels out. There is a small isolated snowfield this time of year which is super icy to cross. You can easily cut across below the snowfield on rock and it's an easy scramble to the base of the climb between the snowfield and the rock face. You can't see the base of the climb until you are at the top of the moraine. It's an obvious, gravel-y path on the left side of a triangular face (not the black, sheer face) facing the col. We simulclimbed the whole 5.0 in one super easy scramble. You go all the way left, then up then all the back right. Lots of TAT the first few pitches, then you are committed. We took a #5 and a #6 for P2 Offwidth and they were essential, they are dead weight for the rest of the climb. A #4 could find it's place along the way, but recommend saving the weight and leaving it at home like we did. P3-P5 stay left and keep traversing left via crack of your choice. For Pitch 10, our 60m rope couldn't stretch enough so we did two pitches although you could simul it. There are two ramps that you can see from far away, you want the lower, obvious ramp for P10. Pitch 11 is a face hand crack that takes you up to the upper ramp/ledge. Pitch 12 is short: belay at the first ledge and obvious station. Pitch 13 you can go left for the Nelson/Potterfield variation (5.7) or right, Kearney variation to the obvious dihedral (5.9) plus an extra 5.8 pitch. The Nelson/Potterfield gives you the famous and sweet looking pics down the sheer/smooth Fin face and looks to be more aesthetic. We meant to do the Nelson but accidentally went to far right and was committed to the Kearney which is not so hard. Starting P13 (either variation), you have to foot traverse right for about 15ft, then if you want to stay on Nelson/Potterfield, you have to take a sharp left up a gravel-y, separate ledge/ramp. Stay on the same foot crack heading right for the Kearney and stay low to get to the base of the left-facing corner/dihedral (avoid following the crack as it angles straight up because it peters out). Once at the top of the fin, you are done climbing and you just have a 4th class, loose scramble gully. This part SUCKS. It is so loose, every hold crumbles and it's impossible to protect. Once at the col at the top of the gully, stay along the base of the summit block and traverse fairly evenly along the backside (South) to the opposite (West) side of the summit block and you'll find easy 3rd class up to the summit. The Colchuck Glacier is shallow but hard so crampons are required, and ice ax is HIGHLY recommended (aluminums fine for both). Only one way to mount the glacier right now and it's a bit sketchy. You want to stay off the glacier as much as possible, so we had to put on/off crampons 3 times going down to Aasgard Pass trying to use as much rock scrambling as possible. Overall, the 5.8 and 5.9 grades were fairly easy, much easier than Squamish grades and even a little easier than Squamish grades.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3270 ft / 996 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Rock Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Bivouac
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3270 ft / 996 m
    Route:Backbone Ridge + The Fin Direct
    Start Trailhead:5570 ft / 1697 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Enchantments Slam (3 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Colchuck Peak2014-09-115305 ft / 1617 m
2Dragontail Peak2014-09-123270 ft / 997 m
3Enchantment Peak2014-09-132950 ft / 899 m
4Cannon Mountain2014-09-143068 ft / 935 m
Total Trip Gain: 14593 ft / 4448 m    Total Trip Loss: 3068 ft / 935 m

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