I have to keep these next few trip reports relatively short...busy season in Estes! So, sorry in advance...

After my first large snow climb up Dragon's Tail Couloir I was excited to get up in the mountains again. My climbing partners had their eye on Flattop Gully, a steep NW couloir on Flattop Mountain. The first ascent of this gully is reported to be by Topher Donahue in 1999, so it is a much less traveled line than many others in the park.

We all met at the Bear Lake trailhead and we soon making our way up the trail. Before long we were staring straight up at Notchtop Mountain and nearing the base of our climb. We skirted around an unnamed tarn and found a nice rock outcropping to gear up. With crampons on and axes in hand we began our ascent of this wonderful couloir. This line snakes its way up the Northwest face of Flattop, steepening as it gets higher. There is a small rock step in the middle that leads you to the steepest snow of the day and a wonderfully steep finish. The snow was in great shape and the scenery was breathtaking. We took a few minutes on the summit to stash our gear as the clouds threatened to spit on us and made a leaisurely descent back to the trailhead.

Another chimichanga at Ed's and a couple of beers later, I was back home with a smile on my face eager for another day in the mountains!

Check out the slide show of pics HERE. You will need a recent version of java to see the slideshow. For the best viewing experience use the Firefox web browser. Click on the right side of the photo to advance to the next photo.

Also check out Andy's great movie of our climb... HERE.

    until then...
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