Last weekend I sprained my ankle not climbing, but walking on flat ground on my way back to the car from bouldering. I spent two days miserably resting my injury and though the inactivity nearly killed me it afforded me the ability to get out this weekend to the Enchantments. The plan was a link of several peaks: Colchuck, Dragontail and Witches Tower.

Damien took off half the day Friday so we could get a bit of an earlier start and not hike in at midnight. We arrived at the TH at about 5:30. By the time we reached the lake it was about 9:30pm. There were only a few patches of snow on the trail. Certainly did not need snowshoes. The going had been slow for me with a still uncertainly stable ankle. I protected it with an ace bandage and by wearing my way overkill La Sporitva Spantik double boots as a splint. They were way to warm, but they provides lots of support for my injury. We camped on the far side of the lake near a stream close to the base of the talus field below Colchuck Glacier.

We began out day at 4:00am on Saturday. We navigated lower talus field by headlamp. In normal years this would still be snow covered, but this year winter had barely showed up in the PNW. Constant snow coverage began at about 6100 ft. The early morning afforded us with excellent hard snow perfect for crampons. At the top of moraines we moved left onto the Cochuck Glacier. Be sure to stay away from the walls of Dragontail on the far left as rocks are always crumbling off the sides. We moved pretty slow because of my ankle, but steady. No ropes were used on our ascent. There are no crevasses. But some folks opt for a rope because of the steepness. We ran into a descending climber who had just free soloed the Triple Couloirs which is in great conditioned. He cautioned us on the step over to access Dragontail’s ridge. It was a bit of a sketch move he said.

We reached the col at about 9:30 and turned right to climb Colchuck. The lower few yards of clear boot path is melted out. But the rest still has snow and is heavily treaded. We were greeted with gorgeous views from the rocky summit of Stuart, Dragontail, Little Annapurna, Rainier, Sherpa… mountain and mountains as far as the eye could see!

We ran into a couple climbing up Colchuck as we made our way down. They said that they had made it to the top of the gulley on Dragontail but turned back because of the sketchy, melted out snow conditions accessing the ridge. Like us they had no pickets or rope to protect the ten ft of dicey moves. At the col we starred up at Dragontail wondering what we should do. Should we go take a look at the route? Was it worth it with the condition reports? For some reason on motivation dwindled that day. We should have gone up and at least looked. But we ended up sleeping on a flat rock waiting for the glissade tracks to soften to descend the Colchuck Glacier.

When we got back to camp we realized that we should have pressed on. We were frustrated and disappointed in our decision. We decided to get up early and climb Asguard Pass. We’d climb Dragontail and then Witches Tower from that direction. As it turned out though when we got up at 3:00am, my ankle hurt slightly it i flexed my heel up. We called it off to be safe. So it ended up being a single summit instead of a triple. Lesson learned. Don’t loose motivation.

 

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