Way back in 2011 I made my first trip into Glacier Gorge and like most folks who exit their vehicles at the trailhead, I was there to see something called Alberta Falls. Don’t get me wrong, Alberta Falls is great. Heck, I even took my family there later that summer, but let’s be serious now. Others may even go as far as the Loch or Mills Lake, also pretty spectacular in their own right. But for those willing to make the 5 mile trek deep into the heart of Glacier Gorge to where the upper plateau begins, that’s where the crown jewel of the park gets real. Names like Longs, Arrowhead, Pagoda, McHenrys, The Spearhead, Chiefs Head, to name a few, scatter the landscape. Believe it or not, but it actually took me 2 years to get past Alberta Falls, a December 2013 summit of Pagoda, and still one of my favorite days in the Park to date. Since then I’ve been itching to get back, which just so happens to bring us to this episode. 🙂
Date: November 1, 2014
Approach: Pear Lake
Distance: 16 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,100 ft.
Participants: Clay Wyatt, Dillon Sarnelli
Peaks of the Park: Flattop Mountain A (12,324′), Otis Peak (12,486′), Taylor Peak B (13,153′), Powell Peak (13,208′)
Date: October 17, 2014
Trailhead: Bear Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance: 17.8 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 6,000 feet
Participants: Solo mission
Time: 8 hours
On Friday morning I woke up late, rolled into the “office”, moved the mouse, and with a little help from a picture on my desk, made a game day decision to go outside. For those of you that don’t know me, my profession is accounting (taxes to cut to the chase) and October 15th while it’s no April 15th, can still be a huge pain in the @ss! A much needed break from the monotony was in order and Indian Summer was knocking on the door.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a place I like to tell myself I know a lot about, but really I probably only know a lot about very little. Other than Wild Basin, most of the Park is still uncharted territory for me. It probably always will be given the expanse. Colorado affords us so many bad @ss opportunities that I’ve found it hard to focus on one area, and in doing so, I seem to always keep the door open to all the potential that this state has to offer. However, I think I can still have a favorite or 2 or 3 or 4 and on this trip, my first trip into the Park this summer, I remembered why Rocky Mountain National Park is still tops.
It’s been quite a whirlwind of weather, outings and new climbing partners since getting back into the full swing of things. East Partner in the the Gores, New Mexico’s high point, Silverheels, Hagar, “The Citadel”, and a Crystal outing never to be spoken of again, just to name a few, and all within the past month or so. With another cataclysmic weekend weather forecast, and a “ski” trip to the Elks and/or the Gores not exactly safe or logistically possible without a long wait at the car for that guy on his snowshoes, Zambo and I decided it was best to stay close to home and hit the Park. Thoughts of Taylor Peak from Bear Lake danced in our heads. Along the way we could take in the views from Flattop, Hallett and Otis. It had the makings to be a great morning if we could just get that small weather window that had been forecast for Saturday AM. After much thought, we left for the Park and decided we’d get up to the Divide and play the rest by ear based on conditions. At the very least it would be time well spent getting to know the Zambino and there is technically no such thing as a bad day in Rocky Mountain National Park.