It has been a while since I have done a great spring snow climb. Some of my friends have been getting out a lot but I have been busy at the lodge or traveling so haven't been able to get out at all. I was ready!
We were debating between Martha's couloir on Mt. Lady Washington or the Powell Snowfields in upper Loch Vale. There were five people on board so we decided to avoid the bowling alley that is Martha's and go for the safer (for the number of people) Powell Snowfields. Charles Danforth, Fabio Somenzi and I were waiting at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and, uncharacteristically Andy (with Brian) was late. We figured something was wrong so I turned my cell phone back on and they had some car trouble in the Canyon and were not going to be able to make it up. It was unfortunate because I had not seen (let alone climbed with) Andy in a long time and had never met Brian. But, the climb goes on. We shouldered our packs and were off.
It was a spectacular day, one that escapes any justifiable description. There wasn't a breath of wind on the divide, the sun was smiling down on us with little to no obstruction and the mountains were as tall and proud as ever! The going was slow to the base of the climb and the climbing was great. We did try to climb quickly once in the couloir as there were small slides happening near us and very large slides across the valley on south facing slopes. We must have seen 10 different avalanches varying in size from harmless sluffs to some larger point release slides of considerable size on Taylor's east face. We opted for a less interesting but shadier (and safer) line to avoid the avy danger and the climbing was wonderful! For the most part we were on 40 degree slopes with an exit nearing the 55 degree mark.
We then summited Powell Peak (13,208 feet) for, what I believe to be, some of the most amazing views in the entire park. It solidified McHenry's as being in the running for my favorite mountain in Rocky. The view of McHenry's from Powell is awesome!
We then began the slog over and up Taylor Peak (13,153 feet) stopping along the way to check out many of the couloirs and cornices from above. What a breathtaking area! So many options and so little time! After spending some time on Taylor we began the decent towards Andrew's Glacier. We did a little glissading, took some last photos of the high country and began the post holing suck fest back to The Loch. Below The Loch we made quick work of the well packed trail, said our goodbyes and I was back home before no time. What a day on a truly remarkable loop high in RMNP!
You can see more photos HERE.
|until next time...|
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