of my favorite tricks in getting the most out of a weekend, is
to - #1. Take 3 days off (or better yet 4 days) or #2. Start a
mountaineering trip after work Friday nights, summit Saturday
and be back in Seattle for drinks and dance Saturday night. Work
= $, so I usually choose #2 with a slight twist, home in bed Saturday
and I left Seattle Friday evening at 7:00pm, and with the usual
2 to 3 stops along the way, we arrived fresh and ready to go at
the Stuart Lake trail head (plus 1 mi., road closed) at 10:30pm.
head lamps on, stars above and the adventure ahead of us, we set
off. After being in the Enchantments many times I had never accessed
the area via this trail and Scott hadn't been to Colchuck lake
for at least 15 years. We got lost. My partner was really proud,
he remembered to buy new batteries for his headlamp. About the
time that we found our way back on track, it died on him. Extra
poked out of the trees into a large flat meadow that I couldn't
quite make out on the map, where was the lake? After closer examination
we determined that we were standing on it. We set up our bivy,
brewed some tea and I looked at my watch, 3:00am. With a few hours
left to catch a few winks, we laid down. Scott had been laughing
at me all the way up the trail because I elected not to bring
a sleeping bag, I figured I didn't want to carry it and that my
bivy sack and extra clothes would suffice.
was about as warm as one of those salmon on ice at the market.
With Scott snoring in my ear and me having an persistent cough,
I arose at 6:30am. Feeling refreshed with an accumulated sleep
time of maybe 5 min., I shivered my way into a hot breakfast via
the whisperlight stove next to me. The temperature was in the
low 20's, no wind and the sun was starting to illuminate the mountain
tops across the frozen lake from us. We were smiling. We got ourselves
together, stashed our bivy gear, and walked out across the lake
toward Colchuck Peak (above).
found us tramping up the Colchuck Glacier, eyeing the potential
routes. Having no rope or gear other than ice axes and crampons,
we decided to do the North Buttress Couloir. I remembered Beckey
saying it was 45 degrees, snow and ice. Add 2000' to the description
and you're in the ball park. What
a blast! The conditions were perfect as we started up the couloir.
We dodged the occasional rock or ice falling down the chute while
kicking big buckets for our feet and did some fine front pointing
on the occasional ice sections.
out of the first couloir and taking a break at that point, I was
cursing my camera, the shutter was frozen. I hope it works on
the summit. Gazing at the remaining route up the Northwest side
and looking pretty cold in the shade, we started a traverse to
a prominent snow filled gully.
proceeded to the gully making full use of our crampon points while
gazing down the exposed side. Swimming comes to mind when I think
of that gully, the snow was thigh deep fluff. Both Scott and I
were on the swim team in high school, we used our accumulated
6 years of experience (hell) on this particular section. Breast
stroke, crampon finds rock, move up 2', fingers are frozen in
light poly pro gloves but don't want to stop to change them cause'
it's too steep...
struggled for 900', up and out of the gully, and into the wonderful
lovely beautiful splendid warm sun. Awesome view down the Northeast
face, to the south, the summit! We scrambled and contoured our
way on rock to the last 40' pitch. I was looking around and from
where we were, I couldn't see that easy way down that I thought
I remembered reading in the book. Up we went and while cresting
the top I viewed that easy way down, turning behind me I asked
Scott, who couldn't see what I saw, how he felt about down climbing
what we just came up.
are the first to climb this heap, according to the register, the
first, in the year 2000. Blasted camera is frozen. The view is
stupendous, Dragontail, Stuart, Rainier, Glacier Peak, not a cloud
in sight. I will be picking up my Gortex bibs from the repair
shop today, the most awesome glissade down the glacier had it's
toll on them and my bum!