The most daunting part of hiking or backpacking the Enchantments is Aasgard Pass. Sitting over 2,000 feet above Colchuck Lake, Aasgard Pass is a formidable opponent for trying to reach the core zone.
Once you’ve reached the back of Colchuck Lake, you’ve hiked five miles. The next mile will be through a boulder and scree field as you make the push to the top of Aasgard Pass. Again, there’s a faint trail, but it’s also a ‘blaze your own path’ trek.
I’ve hiked up and down Aasgard Pass, and I think going up was a bit less tricky. While it’s exhausting with a pack, your center of balance is better hiking up versus potentially getting ahead of your skis and taking a fall going down.
What you need to know about hiking Aasgard Pass in the Enchantments
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Planning your hike up Aasgard Pass
Do I need a permit to hike in the Enchantments?
Yes. Whether you’re day hiking or backpacking, you need a permit to be in the Enchantments. However, single-day permits are available to everyone, vs. overnight permits are a highly selective lottery system.
You do not have to pay for the single-day permits if you have an America the Beautiful, NW Forest Pass, or an Overnight Visitor Parking Pass. Just make sure they are displayed on your front dashboard.
Due to the popularity, visiting on weekdays or carpooling with other hikers is recommended.
Should I thru-hike the Enchantments?
I personally don’t think so. However, I have an entire article on why not that you should read if you’re considering hiking the Enchantments.
How long does it take to hike Aasgard Pass?
Going up or down, it will take you 90 minutes to two hours to hike up Asgard Pass. While it’s only about a mile, the elevation gain is daunting, as is the loose rock/dirt and route finding. In addition, going up is more taxing physically as you’ll be out of breath and need breaks.
Going down is also slow as the footing is less than ideal, and each step you take is done carefully. Again, this is where having one hiking pole is excellent for keeping your balance.
What’s the elevation of Aasgard Pass
The elevation of Aasgard Pass is 7,841. This is the highest on-trail location in the Enchantments.
Which way to hike Aasgard Pass?
Can you hike down Aasgard Pass?
We touched on this, but, yes, you can hike down Aasgard Pass. However, it’s not done as frequently, considering people usually hike up from Colchuck, across the Core Zone, and down through the Snow Lakes Zone.
I recommend against this 10-mile death march as the Snow Lakes side is monotonous, and there are more logistics with the need for cars at two trailheads.
Should I hike up or down Aasgard Pass?
I personally believe hiking up is safer and somewhat more manageable. Of course, it will tax your body physically, but in terms of feeling more in control while hiking, going up is the way to go.
What’s it like to hike Aasgard Pass?
It sucks. I’ll be frank. One of my buddies did a full summersault down it (by accident) and somehow came away unscathed. The closest thing I have to compare it to is hiking 14ers in Colorado, where it’s just a boulder/scree field, and you hope to find your way up it without causing a rockslide below.
Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but when you’re there, the scale of the chute is enormous and makes you feel like a tiny, tiny ant.
Recommended Gear for hiking Aasgard Pass:
- Trekking Poles
- Wool base layer to keep you dry: Men’s and Women’s
- Nice comfy fleece as a mid-layer: Men’s and Women’s
- Down Jacket for extra warmth: Men’s and Women’s
- Comfy yet durable pants: Men’s and Women’s
- Rain jacket: Men’s and Women’s
- Wool Socks: Men’s and Women’s
- Sturdy Hiking Shoes: Men’s and Women’s
- 50L and up backpacking packs
Advice for conquering Aasgard Pass
As I said earlier, I believe going up is more manageable. You’ll have more stable footing as you’re leaning into the mountain, and gravity won’t pull you down as quickly. I’d also highly recommend hiking poles for stability and testing our rock strength.
Other than that, take your time. It’s a massive achievement to make it up to the core zone of the enchantments. And once you’re there, you’ll feel the air thinning a bit. The Aasgard Pass elevation is 7,800 feet, while the backside of Colchuck is about 5,600.
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Wrapping Up – Conquering Aasgard Pass
Getting into the Enchantments Core Zone is an incredibly beautiful place to spend a day or longer. However, it’s not easy. Aasgard Pass will see to that. But just take your time. Be careful. And enjoy the views.
It’ll be all over before you know it!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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