View of Dragontail from Colchuck Peak. Larger version here.
The continued wet weather laid waste to my plans to climb Mt. Rainier over the Memorial Day weekend and I made a decision to bail on that trip Friday afternoon. Saturday I was calling friends to get outdoors and I was able to tag along with my friends Chris and Radka to climb Colchuck Peak, recruiting my friend Chewie (*name changed, you’ll understand why later) in the process.
Chewie* ascending Colchuck Glacier. Larger version here.
We arrived at the trailhead and hiked the 4.5 miles to Colchuck Lake with enough time to set up camp and eat dinner before heading to bed. To save a few pounds I left the tent at home and made a snow shelter by digging a trench and covering it with a tarp. The pack still weighed about 40 lbs. since I brought my digital SLR and tripod.
Chris in the foreground. Larger version here.
We woke up at 4:30a and hit the trail by 5:15a. Chewie’s heels were developing blisters so I gave him my first aid kit that had moleskin and other supplies in it. When I checked in on him I noticed I noticed he’d put large white pads on the back of his heels, not the moleskin. It turns out they were feminine pads (aka – ”kotex”) – a few years ago I took a mountaineering first aid class and they suggested packing them to soak up blood if an injury occurs in the backcountry. Not knowing what they were, Chewie had wrapped his heels with the pads but they did the job and he didn’t develop any more blisters. That was good for a laugh.
Scrambling up the final portion. Larger version here.
We climbed the final 2.5 miles up Colchuck Glacier, nestled between Dragontail Peak and Colchuck. Once we reached the saddle we turned right and scrambled up a mix of snow and rock to reach the summit. We considered traversing over to summit Dragontail but decided against it due to the warming weather and potential for avalanches as the day wore on.
Larger version here.
As we headed back down we were able to glissade and save some time but made me pretty moist in the process. After relaxing in camp for a while we packed up and were back at the cars by 4:30p.
The author, deep in thought with his deep thoughts. Photo by Luke Humphrey. Larger version here.