Loved this route so much I had to go back and do it again. Some friends had heard of our ascent the year prior and appreciated having me as a guide. Went two weeks earlier in the season this time, so dodged the snow but the larches weren’t fully turned. Since much of the route was the same as the last trip I’ll spare most of those details, covering only the differences.
We were treated to the sun rising on Cashmere Mountain as we ascended the first boulder field.
As before, the steep muddy vegetated section was the worst part of the climb.
Wasn’t too long before seeing the tree we all seek - a small one, though!
The scramble up from the shoulder of Cannon affords many fine views of Stuart and the Enchantments.
Without the snow we made good time and so actually summited Cannon Mountain. The very top has a somewhat sketchy V0 slab boulder above a large drop. Climbing down is especially interesting!
The summit affords the finest views of any peak in the area, in my opinion. You can even see Big Tahoma in the background.
On the way over to Prusik Pass we walk across the austere, rarely-seen Druid Plateau. Would be a perfect campsite except for the complete lack of water sources.
The area by Shield Lake north of Prusik Pass features lovely rolling terrain that contrasts nicely with the sharp rock found elsewhere in the area.
We swing by a small tarn called Coney Lake on the way to Prusik Pass. It is a good place to refill water, although it’s shallow and freezes over quickly once the weather turns.
Atop Prusik Pass we are treated to the classic view of Little Annapurna and the core.
Here our trip diverges from the previous year: instead of dropping down into the core from Prusik Pass, we hike West toward Enchantment Peak! It’s easy going except for a short section of steep loose gravel. It also affords unique views of Prusik Peak in profile.
Near the summit of Enchantment Peak, it’s easy to start needlessly scrambling when you can simply walk around to climber’s left to reveal gentle terrain avoiding the obstacles. The summit of Enchantment Peak itself features some easy (though vertical) exposed scrambling up to a miniscule summit ledge.
Enchantment Peak features beautiful panoramic views of the entire core, including the seldom-witnessed Hel Basin. Clouds are likely to obscure your sight.
We’d heard rumors of a route directly from Enchantment Peak down to the top of Aasgard Pass, and decided to try and find it. The lakes of the core take on a beautiful azure color from up here, looking over at McClellan Peak.
The route to the top of Aasgard Pass is treacherous and difficult to find. We got cliffed out several times going down the wrong gully. We finally found the correct route, which still involved a somewhat sketch slab traverse across a large drop.
Not long after the traverse you’re spit out onto a wide-open slope gracefully curving down toward the top of Aasgard Pass, as promised!
Descending Aasgard Pass was a cinch after all the scrambling, although absent danger I really started to notice my fatigue. We reached Colchuck Lake and began the long, mind-numbing descent down the hiking trail back to the car.
Even though the descent trail from Colchuck Lake kills me every time, I’d do it again.