Aasgard Pass

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Aasgard Pass
Colchuck Lake 2012.jpg
Aasgard Pass, viewed from the northwest across Colchuck Lake
Elevation7,841 ft (2,390 m)[1]
Traversed byUnmaintained United States Forest Service foot trail
LocationChelan County, Washington, US
RangeStuart Range, in the Cascades
Coordinates47°28′49″N 120°49′14″W / 47.48028°N 120.82056°W / 47.48028; -120.82056Coordinates: 47°28′49″N 120°49′14″W / 47.48028°N 120.82056°W / 47.48028; -120.82056

Aasgard Pass, officially identified as Colchuck Pass, (elevation 7,841 feet (2,390 m))[1] is a mountain pass on the east side of the Cascades in Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness southwest of Leavenworth. It is the shorter and steeper of two primary hiking routes into the Enchantments, one of Washington's most popular hiking areas. It separates Colchuck Lake (elevation 5,570 feet (1,700 m)) to the northwest from the Upper Enchantment Basin (elevation ~7,500 feet (2,300 m)) to the southeast. Aasgard Pass is located at the saddle between Dragontail Peak and the Enchantment Peaks.[2]

Attempts to change the name officially in 1967 and 1988 were both turned down by the US Board on Geographic Names; thus, the name "Colchuck Pass" is retained on United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps. Mountaineers have long referred to the feature as Aasgard Pass, the name favored by famed climber and guide author Fred Beckey. The name was likely coined by Bill and Peggy Stark, who explored the Enchantments extensively in the mid-20th Century, and who gave Nordic mythological names to many of the lakes that previously had been named by A. H. Sylvester, a U.S. Geological Survey topographer supervisor of Wenatchee National Forest in the early 1900s who is credited with discovering the region. The official naming rulings of the US Board in the 1960s resulted in a mixture of the two name sets being adopted as official. The current policy of not adopting new names for geographic features in wilderness areas probably precludes the rest of the names identified by the Starks from ever achieving official status.

Deaths and Accidents[edit]

On August 6, 2010, a 52-year-old man was hiking and glissading with his son when he slipped and fell about 15 feet into a waterfall on Aasgard Pass. Stephen Grate led hikes in the Renton and Issaquah areas to teach the history of coal mining.[3][4][5]

On July 3, 2011, a 21-year-old student at Pacific Lutheran University named Julia A. Rutherford was glissading down Aasgard Pass with a group when she slipped fell into a crevasse and into running glacial water. Officials say the woman fell in around 00:30am and because of the freezing temperatures of the water likely did not survive over 20 minutes.[6][7]

On June 5, 2016 a 24-year-old man named Qi He fell into a waterfall hole and died. Due to the snowpack, rescuers could not retrieve his body until a month after the accident. His family has asked local authorities to post warning signs at Colchuck Lake and the Enchantments trailhead to prevent future accidents.[8][9][10]

One June 5, 2017 a 19-year-old man named Benjamin Gore from Mercer Island was presumed dead after glissading into the same waterfall hole around 5 PM. His body was recovered on June 25, 2017 due to deep snow and fast-running water.[11][12]

In May 1998 Steve Smith, a Mountaineers Climbing Education Manager, slipped into a waterfall under the snowpack at Aasgard Pass. Steve managed to climb and dig his way back out and has documented his experience online at The Mountaineers' blog for others to learn about.[13][14]


Aasgard Pass from above, with Colchuck Lake below
  1. ^ a b "Colchuck Pass". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  2. ^ The Enchantments, WA - No 209S (Map) (1997 ed.). 1:44500. Special Series. Green Trails, Inc. UPC 735781020991. Archived from the original on 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  3. ^ Dean Radford (August 10, 2010). "Keeper of Coal Mine History Dies Hiking near Leavenworth". Renton Reporter.
  4. ^ "A terrible event unfolded on Aasgard Pass..." NW Hikers. August 7, 2010.
  5. ^ "In Memory of Stephen Michael Grate". Michael Grate. August 6, 2010.
  6. ^ "Loss of Control on Glissade". Alpina Americana. 2012.
  7. ^ Rich Landers. "Details on hiker's deadly slide into Alpine Lakes Wilderness". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  8. ^ Michelle Esteban. "Family remembers son, lost at 24, in the snow of the Cascades". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  9. ^ Mike Irwin. "With snow melt, body found on Aasgard Pass". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  10. ^ Ellie Miao. "Dead hiker's mom wants to help prevent future tragedies". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  11. ^ Associated Press. "Body of Mercer Island teen who disappeared on pass recovered". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  12. ^ Evan Bush. "Mercer Island man believed dead after fall through snow at Aasgard Pass". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  13. ^ https://www.mountaineers.org/blog/lessons-learned-2013-glissading-into-a-30-foot-hole-in-aasgard-pass
  14. ^ http://komonews.com/news/local/hidden-hazard-backcountry-hikers-on-snowfields

External links[edit]