I took this trip in early June of 2009. I was looking at some old photos and just had to post them here. Ken, Mandala, John and I backpacked into the upper Enchantments Basin, an area of towering peaks, year-round snow, and alpine lakes. The Enchantments form the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It was the last weekend before the overnight visitor quota permits were required for the summer. We knew early June in the Cascades meant we’d come across a good amount of snow, so we packed accordingly (read heavy).
The goal was to climb Dragontail Peak via the East Ridge, a relatively easy scramble/snow climb. Dragontail gets it’s name from the rock needles all along thin crest Southwest of the summit. At 8,840-ft, it’s the second highest peak in the Stuart Range (second to Mt. Stuart, 9,415-ft).
After hauling our butts and our gear up Aasgard Pass we made camp in the only flat and snowless spot we could find. It proved to be a great spot, with views of numerous granite peaks and outcroppings all around. It was getting too late for a summit attempt so we studied the mountain, took pictures and watched the sunset.
To save weight, I chose to bring my bivy sack instead of a tent. Risky move that time of year. I was lucky and we didn’t get snowed on, but it was still a cold night for me. I was able to capture some great photos of a near full moon rising over the Enchantments. Had I been in a tent I probably would’ve missed that.
We woke up early the next day shrouded in clouds. I guess you could call it fog, but at that altitude you really are in the clouds. It was a little disheartening because the previous day was so clear and beautiful. I had been imagining the view from the summit all night, and now it looked like we wouldn’t get to see much from the top.
With fresh legs and no overnight gear on our backs we made quick work of the climb. The snowfield got moderately steep near the top of the ridge but overall it was pretty tame. Once on the ridge it was a simple 15 minute hike to the summit. It was completely socked in with clouds so there wasn’t much to see. After snacking on some trail mix we hiked back to the snow and glissaded/hiked back to camp.
We packed up and hiked out the same day. We probably stopped in Leavenworth and had burgers and beers on the way home, but I can’t recall. The most memorable part for me was camping in such an amaizng place. The Enchantments are an incredible setting for a climb.