Going for a Little Slide on Colchuck Peak

In October 2005, Eiji Sugi and I headed to the Enchantments for a climb of Colchuck Peak and Dragontail Peak. Leaving the car at dusk, we hiked in for a couple miles then found a nice boulder to bivy on.

Rising the next Cascades morning, we continued up the trail that would take us to lovely Colchuck Lake. From here, the view up the huge boulders and talus to the Colchuck Glacier, and ultimately, the Colchuck-Dragontail Col, was impressive.

Scampering up the rocks, we reached the toe of the glacier and found bullet-proof ice. Busting out the tools and ice screws, Eiji jumped on lead. And it was perhaps halfway up the first pitch of Eiji's lead that a bowling ball-sized rock came zooming down the glacier past us. Sheewww! That'll get your attention.

Establishing a belay near the end of the rope, Eiji started to bring me up the low-angle but icy pitch. And that's when I lost a crampon. My right knee slammed hard into the ice and I slid...well, only about a foot, 'til Eiji caught me and brought me to a halt.

I winced in pain. My knee began to pulse. My jettisoned crampon was fifty feet down the glacier up against some rocks near the toe of the ice.

Lowering down to grab my crampon, I took a few minutes to collect myself and work through the pain. But it wasn't entirely to be. I called up to Eiji that I was in conversation with the pain, and it was talking me into heading down to the lake for some rest and relaxation in the sunshine.

Grudgingly, Eiji came back down...and we hobbled (at least, I did) down to the lake. There, we enjoyed the beautiful views across the lake and I reflected upon what might have been, what those summit views must look like, looking down to that lake so small.

Indeed, like so many other fine peaks, Colchuck and Dragontail will hafta wait for another day.