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Before we get started...we are going to try something new. Hold the mouse over the pictures to the left for a caption...click to enlarge.
One web site that I frequent is RMNPforums.com. This is a great online community that loves Rocky Mountain National Park. A few of us decided to meet up for a weekend of snow stomping fun! Three guys came in from across the country on Thursday, January 27. Scott (slowpoke), came from Philadelphia, Glenn (GLENNinPA) from Pittsburgh, and Bill (Bill 007) from San Antonio all flew into Denver and prepared for our first destination, Flattop Mountain. Aaron (Aaron) drove in on Friday so he missed this part of the stomp.
It was an early morning and we were on the trail by 4:30. We met Erik Stensland (Malok), a wonderful photographer, and member of rmnpforums.com who lives in Allenspark, at the Bear Lake trail head, put on our packs, and were off.
The moon was at 97%, so headlamps were not needed. It was a wonderful hike up the Flattop Mountain trail. Bill was having trouble adjusting to the altitude, was soon experiencing head aches and, wisely listening to his body, called a day around the junction to Fern Lake. We were sad to not have him with us, but were all glad he was honest with himself and turned back before his conditions got worse.
So on we went, up and up and up. We were going to make it above tree line by the time the sun would rise, and were pretty thrilled about the chance for a beautiful sunrise. That is until our hopes were dashed as we could barely make out a large cloud bank on the Eastern horizon. There would be no spectacular sunrise. So we focused on other subjects for our pictures. We to a lot of shots of each other and did what we could with the poor light.
To be honest, Scott and Glenn really impressed me with how fast they acclimatized. They were moving at a really quick pace up the mountain. Sure they were having a hard time breathing, but they were getting it done. We all stayed along the Southern edge of Flattop which provided for some amazing views into Tyndall Gorge below. There were great views down into Dragons Tail and Dragons Tooth Couloirs...though I am now confused on which is which. Look how steep! This shot is looking straight down! You can see Emerald Lake at the top left of the picture.
After taking a lot of pictures after the first large rise, we headed further up the mountain. Once we got closer to the summit, the wind really picked up and we became engulfed in clouds. It wasn't the windiest that I have seen up there, but it was still very gusty with a lot of blowing snow.
But we pushed on, bit by bit, and were finally at the hitch rack. I was hoping the Rime ice would be as prevalent as it was last week so these guys could see it. It was there, just not as abundant. After a brief break at the hitch rack, we entered the snow field. While the sensation wasn't as extreme as it was last week, it still looked as if there was no ground and no sky. It was all white. You can see Scott crossing the field HERE.
After this snowfield, it is an easy stroll across broad slopes to the summit! We were there. It was great to see Scott and Glenn's expressions and reactions to being in these conditions and making their destination. It is a tough journey, but the reward is well worth all of the effort.
After some group shots and a promo shot for Glenn's restaurant, Fat Heads Saloon we discussed the options of heading over to Hallett Peak. Scott and I decided to attempt the summit as Glenn and Erik headed back down the mountain. Scott and I were turned around on the slopes of Hallett due to some extremities turning a splotchy, pale white...the early stages of frostbite. So after getting quickly insulated we were off, back to the trail head and Casa Grande for some Mexican food and a nap!
Get some rest for tomorrows trip to Thunder Lake, a 16 mile slog through the heat of Wild Basin!
|on to DAY 2 of THE STOMP......|
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