My Solo into the Enchantments
In March 2014, my good friend and climbing partner, Casey Sullivan (@caseys3), and I decided to tackle a 22-mile winter traverse through the Enchantments, a beautifully remote high-alpine basin filled with beautiful rock and larch and pristine alpine lakes, considered by many as the most beautiful natural area in the State of Washington, if not the Pacific Northwest. The trip involved crossing avalanche chutes, ascending over 6000 feet, camping in the upper basin in frigid temps and high winds, and then descending the ice slopes of Aasgard Pass (using crampons and an ice ax in earnest for my first time). Although long and grueling, we enjoyed the rare occasion of having the Enchantments entirely to ourselves. Not a soul (or footprint) could be seen.
This past weekend, I decided to once again enter the Enchantments in winter; however, this time, I planned to go solo.
The trip, as expected, was as grueling and strenuous as it can get. What it took me to get to the heart of the Enchantments and back: 30 hours, 20 miles, 13,000 total elevation gain and loss, 45 pounds on my back, and 2 very sore legs.
I set my camp up below Prusik Peak, the crown jewel of the Enchantments. The first two hours in the night presented high winds and I'm glad my tent stayed in place and did not fly down the ridge, which would have left me in a very precarious position. Eventually the winds died down and I was able to enjoy the cold starry night.
I took the shot below at about 4:45 a.m., about 1.5 hours before sunrise, near my camp as the eastern sky was lighting up.
When the sun rose, a warmth filled my tent, so I decided to take my sleeping pad and bag outside the tent and enjoy the morning.
After enjoying the sunrise, it was hard to leave camp, not only because the weather was so beautiful, but also because I was not looking forward to the long trek back to the car. But, alas, I had no choice. As they say, going up into the mountains is optional, returning back down is mandatory!