.....To get back on the train" PHISH
Peak: Taylor B(13,153ft)
When I started this report I was under the impression it had only been a month since I had been out in the hills. Imagine my shock when I checked the date on pictures from the last trip up Aetna and Taylor and it was back on November 18th! Despite reasonable excuses of exams, bad weather, work, a trip to Michigan, Christmas, 3 concerts around New Years Eve, and a horrible cold, 7.5 weeks off is not acceptable and will not be repeated in the future.
I have had my eye on Taylor Peak B in RMNP for awhile now and with the current weather window closing and the fact that I was feeling a little better I thought I would give it a go yesterday. My extended break, gluttony, and overindulgence in the past month and half had me not planning on setting any speed records and just hoping to get back to the car with a summit.
Hitting the trail
The drive from Broomfield was very quick with no traffic and I was pulling into the Glacier Gorge TH parking lot at 5:50. There was one other car in the lot whose owners I ran into at the end of the day, they had climbed the classic ice route, All Mixed Up. The weather was a balmy 22 degrees and calm when I set off under clear skies at 6:05.
Lost in my thoughts I forgot to count how many bridges I had crossed and was afraid of missing the shortcut to The Loch. Luckily the area I needed was all tracked out and there were a ton of different trails that all funneled into the official climbers shortcut/winter variation. Knowing this area would be well traveled I left the snow shoes in the car, hoping that I would not regret that decision past The Loch, fortunately I did not. Reaching the Loch right at sunrise was a real treat and it was nice to have microspikes and ice to make a beeline for the opposite shore.
The Loch sunrise
The Loch sunrise
A few minutes after The Loch the trail split again, with the left going towards Sky Pond and the right ascending Andrews Creek towards the Gash. To my relief it looked like a few people had been up that way since the last snow so my decision to leave the snowshoes wasn't going to ruin the day, just make it more slow-going. It was here that I threw on my gaiters and the postholing and random falls off to the side of the trail were the name of the game for the next hour or so as I worked my way up into the Gash and towards the headwall below Andrews tarn. My decision to head to the right side of the obvious clearing was horrible and I would take the other side on the descent and realized I wasted about 30 minutes sparring with the boulders and powder.
Heading up The Gash
Looking towards The Sharkstooth
Eventually I reached the headwall that needs to be climbed to access Andrews Tarn and the glacier itself. Kicking steps was easy up the left side of the slope and before long I was at the tarn and looking up at the final climb up the glacier to Andrews Pass and the Continental Divide. Crampons would have been nice for the glacier, but microspikes did the job well enough. I ascended the steeper left side on some great snow in order to avoid the massive ice sheet that I had seen covering the entire middle of the glacier from down below.
Looking down from the top of the headwall
Looking down at Andrews Tarn and The Loch from top of Andrews Glacier
Andrews Pass and Continental Divide
Topping out on Andrews Pass was bittersweet as I was off the snow with only 1200 ft vert of tundra walking/talus hopping remaining until the summit, but the wind was a constant pain. This last grunt is when my extended hiatus from climbing began to rear its ugly head. The amount of times I had to remind myself that standing there resting was not in fact helping me get any closer to the goal at hand were endless and annoying. Eventually I pulled my lazy ass to the summit, arriving at 10:45. The views where great as to be expected and after some pics and snacks I bundled up and started to head down.
Final slog to summit
View through a notch on ridge
Glacier Gorge and Wild Basin 13ers(and Longs)
You know who
Looking down to Sky Pond from summit
The descent was uneventful for the most part and I was surprised to see so many people from the Loch back to the car, at least 25 snowshoers/hikers. I made it back to the car at 1:45 feeling like a million bucks, albeit a little tired. My favorite part of the day was the season's first full on face-plant due to a surprise posthole. I came up with a face full of snow laughing out loud and swearing at the same time, ahhhhh winter The physical challenge of this hike was awesome and it felt great to finally be out in the mountains again. That said, the mental benefits of this hike far outweigh the physical. The Freedom of The Hills is most certainly NOT just the title of a book!
The Loch on descent
On the drive out
Thanks for reading!