Aasgard Pass to Snow Lakes
|August 31 - September 2, 2007 - I planned for, prepared for,
and dreamed of this hike for months. We hiked from
the Stuart Lake trailhead, elevation 3400', up over Aasgard Pass,
elevation 7800', and down to the Snow Lakes trailhead, elevation 1300'.
It was an amazing hike, and the weather gods were with us this weekend.
This traverse gains 2200' in less than a mile as you scramble up Aasgard
Pass, but the trail is marked by cairns and easy to follow. Once into the Upper Enchantment Lakes Basin, you feel as
though you have stepped into an entirely different world. The
stark white rocks and cliffs stand in sharp contrast to the blue sky and
the many lakes, tarns, and streams. Ptarmigan thrive in this upper
basin, and the landscape is rich with wildflowers, most notably gentian,
which are present in large numbers. Larches also thrive here, and
some early bloomers were just beginning to turn golden when we were
We camped both nights in the upper basin, and on our second day, I explored the upper basin while other members of our group scrambled up Little Annapurna. After lunch and several rounds of cards, we hiked to Prusik Pass, over a ridge and down to Gnome Tarn, where the views of Prusik Peak are breathtaking.
The hike out on Sunday was long and arduous. While the scramble up Aasgard Pass was hard, it was not as hard as I had anticipated, but the hike down to the Snow Lakes trailhead was more brutal than I expected. The trail loses a mile in elevation on the descent, and the first several miles involved traveling on and descending rock slabs with lots of exposure, particularly in the area known as the Trauma Rib just below Lake Viviane. It was both the most exhilarating and frightening experience in my recent memory! However, those first miles also traveled through the Lower Enchantment Lakes Basin, and the scenery made the effort worthwhile. After reaching Snow Lakes, the trail becomes a long, steep, non-technical slog down the mountain that never seems to end. The water levels in Snow Lakes had been lowered, and I did not find them very pretty. Nada Lake was a pretty enough lake, but there was little to look at after that.
Click on the following links to additional photos.