After last week’s climb up the perfect granite cracks of Outer Space, we were starving for more. By the time our five hour drive back to Portland was complete, plans were already in place to come back and do the mountain in the Stuart Range reputed to have the finest lines and cleanest rock. Since we were doing this car to car, and probably not coming back without an elusive Enchantments permit, we decided on the classic line at Prusik: the Stanley-Burgner route.
After getting three hours of sleep at our favorite bivy site outside Leavenworth, we started up from the Colchuck Lake Trailhead around 3 am on Saturday morning. Making quick time through the good trail in the woods up to Colchuck Lake, we caught sunrise at the lake before starting through the boulders.
We had pared down out packs as much as possible, removing the frames and taking a 0.5 liter BeFree filtration bottle for water in light of all the lakes and streams we’d be crossing. Even so, we hiked up Asgard Pass casually to conserve energy, taking breaks as needed.
Neither of us had been in the core Enchantments before, only having climbed on the outer edges at Dragontail and Snow Creek Wall, so it was a nice change of pace to get to wander between the lakes of the core, surrounded by goats.
After passing Tranquil Lake, Isolation Lake, the Enchantment Lakes, and Inspiration Lake, we met up with Perfection Lake and took the switchbacks up to Prusik Pass.
Cutting to the south of the West Ridge of Prusik Peak, we ran into a two-some we had been leapfrogging most the morning, who were doing a car to car climb of Solid Gold. They were laughing and tromping around barefoot on the granite slabs and pine needles up to the start of their route below the West Ridge. Realizing they had the right idea, we backtracked to the West Ridge bypass and hung up our approach shoes and non-climbing gear, then hoofed it back over to the Stanley-Burgner start with a combination of barefoot and TC Pro scramblin’.
Just as we arrived at the base a couple were finishing up the first pitch, so we had the benefit of stoked climbers to share the belays with going up the route and no delays. Sandy got on the sharp end to start the route, leading up the wide 5.8 left start quickly and then linking it with pitch 2 for a solid 50+ meter pitch, belaying on a large tree before the knobby wall that marked the 3rd pitch.
Next she led up a thin crack directly above the tree until it clamped down, then went across a “thoughtful (aka, guaranteed pendulum ledge-fall) traverse” up and rightwards across a slab to the next gully system, belaying at a large ledge beneath two cracks. The climbing had been fun and fast up to this point, so we missed our planned changeover and Sandy continued up the awkward double cracks and the gully that followed.
Stopping and belaying midway through pitch 4, she brought me up with vague excuses of another climber already in the chockstone and belay ledge backups. Ready to start leading and not realizing the trap, I took over the sharp end and led up a beautiful stembox before tunneling through the chockstone, belaying at a spacious ledge perfect for taking a photo of a certain climber emerging from the narrow tunnel behind the chockstone.
Following up, Sandy climbed to below the chockstone, where I dropped her a loop of rope and hauled the follower pack through the small passage before she joined me. From here we stood below the flaring chimney we had spent so much time speculating on, and I made some surely-not-about-to-bite-me comments about how short it looked compared to what a big deal people make about it online.
Twenty-five minutes of grunting, wiggling slightly upwards, slipping slightly downwards, and knee barring through the chimney pitch later I reached the top of the flare and made an anchor with a .3, .4 and a small offset nut. It was far easier to climb the chimney towards the outside, but every time you wanted to place gear you had to shimmy into an awkward position where the flare closed down. Again I dropped a loop to Sandy for the backpack as this pitch would be a complete hassle with it hanging from her belay loop and she started up. After she got arrived, we switched belay devices and she moved the anchor directly below the beginning of pitch 6 on lead.
From here I started up the long last pitch of the route. This pitch had a bit of everything: wide climbing, finger/hand jams, stemming, smearing, and plenty of steepness. It started off with a few bulges interspersed with low angle sections and then led to a vertical corner that deposits you directly on the summit. Sandy climbed this pitch with the backpack, adding to the difficulty level with a huge grin.
The good weather we had been enjoying only lasted until I topped out, by the time Sandy arrived at the summit the wind was blasting us, and wouldn’t stop until we were back at Colchuck Lake. We quickly hopped on the rappels, and 4 raps later we were down to a pleasant class 3 trail that took us across a low section of the west ridge. One more rap down the south side of the ridge dropped us within a few hundred feet of our packs.
High-tailing it out of there, we reached Asgard Pass just as the sun was getting low, and reached Colchuck Lake in the dark. It was a warm night, so we pulled the foam backpads from our backpacks and took a nap by Colchuck Lake before heading back to the car. We arrived around 3 am, roughly when we had started the day before.
- Miles: 18-20 (depending on source)
- Elevation gain: 6,864 ft
- Pitches: 6
- Time climbing: 5 hr 30 min
- Time hiking: an enchanted eternity
- Not everything needs to be a rush. I tend to view approaches like trail races, but taking our time got us the same adventure with proper planning.
- We could have easily dropped the follower pack, and I would if I did a similarly-sized route again. Bringing a few extra carabiners instead, we could have clipped our soft flasks to our harness, put a few bars in our pockets, and had the same security the pack provided.
- Using a gri-gri and guide atc worked perfectly for always keeping a level of assisted/auto-braking to protect the person climbing.
- Doubles from #.3-2, a single 3 & 4, and offset nuts felt about perfect.
- 8 single slings, 3 doubles, 1 quad — we could of definitely gone with less considering how straight the route is.
- 1 BeFree water filter bottle and 4 empty 750ml soft flasks allowed us to drop a few pounds of weight each on the approach, and still have plenty of water for the route.
- 18 liter rei flash with back pad removed for the route (unnecessary).