Dragontail Peak Climb
Serpentine Ridge Route: The Serpentine Ridge is a beautiful route on Dragontail Peak's North Face. First climbed in 1973 by Tom Hargis and Jay Ossiander, this long moderate route is the easier of the two routes commonly guided on Dragontail's North Face. In general the route gets more complicated the higher you climb with the crux pitches (5.7 and 5.8) found near the upper third of the climb. The descent is initially straight forward, but then involves negotiating snow slopes, and finally leads to the trail below Asgard Pass. Any climb of the North Face of Dragontail is a proud accomplishment, and the Serpentine is perhaps the best. This climb is good training for people interested in attempting the Upper North Ridge of Mt. Stuart.
Triple Couloirs Route: The Triple Couloirs Route can be climbed at any time of year when there is sufficient snow and ice in the three gullies. Despite being possible earlier in the year, the Triple Couloirs are usually guided in the spring either just before or just after the usual spring shed cycle. As stable conditions are difficult to predict far in advance this route often requires participants to show up on short notice and climb the route during the brief periods when the climb is in good condition. The route varies from year to year, but generally involves a lot of moderate snow climbing interspersed with sections of steeper snow, ice, or snow-covered rock. The decent of the Triple Couloirs usually goes down that back of Dragontail Peak and in many ways is easier than a summer climb as you are walking on snow the entire way.
Backbone Ridge with Fin Direct: This route was first climbed in 1970 by Mark Wright and John Bonneville, with the Fin Direct added by Pat Cruver and Kit Lewis in 1975. A more sustained and technically difficult route than the Serpentine Ridge, the Backbone Ridge requires climbers to be solid on 5.9. In general this route has more sustained climbing and is a more aesthetic line than the Serpentine Ridge. The more sustained nature of this route means that we almost always start the route from a bivouac near the base of the climb, taking two days for the approach, climb and exit.
ItineraryReally strong parties might be able to do Serpentine Ridge or the Triple Couloirs in one long day. Most groups will opt to meet mid-morning in Leavenworth and hike in to a bivy spot near the base of the route, allowing for an early start the next day. The climbs themselves will each be done in one day with the hike-out accomplished the same day. Backbone is run as a two-day program.
QualificationsExcellent physical fitness, solid belaying skills, previous ice axe and crampon experience, ability to climb 5.8 or 5.9 quickly, smoothly, and efficiently.
Unless participants can provide a reference from another guide we know, we will want to climb with you for a day in advance of your Dragontail Peak North Face climb to confirm your ability to move quickly and efficiently on these long alpine climbs.
Triple Couloirs Qualificatins: Participants must be familiar with steep snow and ice climbing techniques in addition to the rock climbing skills listed above. You should also be able to efficiently remove snow and ice protection and be able to climb short, steep steps of snow, ice, or snow covered rock.