Dragontail Peak - 8840'
Miles: 13.5 Gain: 5480' Map: GT # 177 & #209
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Aasgard Pass, Colchuck Lake, Dragontail, Enchantments, Stuart Range... instantly recognizable place names for anyone familiar with this part of the Cascades. It really is one of the most beautiful and quintessentially alpine spots in Washington's mountains and on most everyone's must see list.

So much so that the forest service instituted a permit system some 20 years ago to help limit the crowds and mitigate the damage being done to this unique landscape of high lakes, massive gray granite peaks and mountain goats.

Given the difficulty of securing permits (less than 1/2 of the applicants receive them and only 1/3 get the dates/zones they first request) it's understandable that many opt to visit the area early in June before the permit system goes into effect (June 15th to Oct 15th), scrambling Colchuck or Dragontail from the lake rather than the trail head.  You can get • Permit information here •

We met to carpool from the P&R lot in Monroe at 8:30a, stopped at the ranger station in Leavenworth to buy an annual NW Forest Pass to replace my expiring one and were at the Stuart Lakes/Colchuck Lake TH by 11:30a.  The trail starts at 3360' and finishes 4.1 miles later at the north end of 5570' Colchuck Lake.  Took us around 3 hours to get to the lake and an addiional 1/2 hour to find a nice spot to camp along the western shore.

Going by a trip report I saw from a week prior (and corroborated by the rangers in Leavenworth) we were expecting to hit snow at the 4500' junction of the Stuart Lakes and Colchuck Lake Trails.  Snow was reported to be continuous from there, solid around the lakeshore and on up Aasgard Pass. We were surprised to find no snow on either trail, none at the lake, lots of talus showing on Aasgard and an almost completely ice free Colchuck Lake.  Snowshoes are really heavy when you don't need them.

Sunday morning came and the sunny conditions went.   Fog and clouds.   Temps were still pleasant, but you couldn't see much.  We left camp around 7:30a, hiked south around the end of the lake and began picking our path up Aasgard. 

Scrambling to the pass alternated on snow and talus until the path headed west onto rock about 300' below the pass. There is snow at pass level, but there was also a lot of bare spots where the more industrious had hauled up their gear and set up camp.
From the pass we headed WSW to enter the basin below Dragontail's east face.  At least we hoped that's what we were doing, we really couldn't see much of anything. At some point while we were checking maps, the clouds lifted a bit and WOW, there it was, steeply straight ahead and very very beautiful. In a second it was gone again but that was enough. We'd seen where we were going and equally as important saw the boot prints off to our right leading upward.

The climb up the basin to the SW ridge is actually on a glacier, although I've never seen any mention of roping up to do it.  This time of year, even with the warm temps there was still a lot of snow underfoot.   

Once on the ridge, follow the climbers path NW ~400' to the top. Everything within arms reach of the summit was in view. Beyond your finger tips things rapidly faded into the mist.   It really wasn't all that bad, but we only got a few brief glimpses into the Enchantments basin and never really got a good look at Colchuck Peak just across the col.  What we did see was pretty awesome though. I think it took us about 4 hours to reach the summit from camp.

We hung around the summit for a while to see if the clouds would lift, talking to a father and son who were training for a Rainier trip next month.  No such luck. Of course as we got back to the spot where you leave the summit ridge and plunge down into the basin below the east face, the biggest sucker hole of the day appeared overhead and the whole of the summit was bathed in crystal sunshine.  Nice glissades off the the face and down parts of Aasgard. We got back to camp, packed up and started hiking out at 4:00p.  We were at the car by 6:30p. 

We just had time to grab some coffee and snacks at Starbucks in Leavenworth before the 7:30pm closing of west bound Hwy 2.  Long day and Sunday's weather could have been better, but ultimately a very satisfying trip. 

I'm already thinking about a trip to Colchuck Peak next year around this time.  There was a group of high school students we met who did Colchuck Sunday.  This was the final exam for an Outdoor Literature course.  Can't remember which HS they were from, but if they can do it for credit, maybe we can do it for fun?
 Drive Hwy 2 to Leavenworth.  At the west end of town go south on Icicle Creek Road to Rd 7601, go left for 4 miles to the road end and the Stuart Lakes - Colchuck Lake Trailhead.
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