Friday, December 16, 2011

Dragontail Peak - Triple Couloirs

Trip: Dragontail - Triple Couloirs

Date: 12/9/2011

High pressure in the Cascades, especially in the Winter, is something that can not and should not be wasted.  Seeing as we have been having an unusual stretch of good Winter weather, my buddy Kirk Turner and I headed into the Enchantments to try the Triple Couloirs route on Dragontail Peak. This route is a classic Winter/Spring Cascade objective.  Neither of us had tried a route like this before, so we were excited with a bit of trepidation. We also weren't sure what conditions were like, so went in with open minds and found that they needed to be expanded even a bit more.

Photo essay ensues. 

Dragontail peak with the route we climbed drawn in.  Dotted lines mark where the route goes behind the visible rock.  Blue arrow denotes our one rappel to get into the second couloir.

Necessary Gear...
 Kirk climbing into the first couloir through a short bit of mixed. 

 Kirk in the middle of the first couloir.
Kirk moving through a slot on the first couloir.

There is a section of ice runnels on this route which are not currently in. We found a variation 200 feet up from the runnels. The variation currently involves some steep loose snow over rock. I found a rappel anchor (a piton and a stopper with a red sling attached) into the second couloir, but it looked like I would be rapping into a bone dry section of the couloir. I elected to climb an 80 foot pitch of mixed 5.8/5.9 to another anchor I spotted above (a 2-piton anchor with a purple sling). The anchor was slung in an American death triangle, which we recommend you not using. Due to a mind expanding incident on this pitch, I did not cut and replace the sling - something that I normally do while in the mountains.

The entrance to the variation we took on the route.

Kirk moving through some mixed terrain before roping up for our first pitch.

Another shot of Kirk styling it!

After lowering/rapelling into the second couloir, Kirk climbed into a little alcove that had some tattered slings and a previous anchor. He hand pulled one of the pitons in this anchor, so we decided to remove the tat and left over pitons. We scored two carabiners in the process

At the top of the second couloir, into the third, is the only true exposed ice on the route we encountered.  I placed a 13cm screw and we simul-climbed until a mixed section above forced us to place a belay.

Kirk and his bomber 3-piece anchor after his stellar mixed lead that involved some cams and pitons.

A cool reflection shot!

Kirk at the top of the third couloir.

Headed up the last snowfield and a bit of mixed climbing to the summit.

Obligatory Summit Shot.

Down-climbing some ice bulges on the decent down Asgard Pass.

What a great trip, with beautiful weather, with an awesome friend. Hard to beat trips like this (for me) in the mountains. Overall we climbed two pitches of mixed, simul-climbed a few sections and the rest was cruiser.  Just goes to show how there are phenomenal winter routes in the Cascades - and winter has only just started!  If you ever want to join us on one, check out our page on Winter Alpine and Ice Climbing here in the Northwest.  Given the opportunity, I would love to run up this route again!

Thanks Cascades.

--Andrew Yasso
Guide & Alaska Programs Coordinator


Susan DeBruin said...

Awesome photos!

Andrew Yasso said...

Thanks Susan! It's easy to get good photos with a climb and weather like that!