On our second night from the Elkhart Park trailhead, my wife Julie
and I established base-camp between upper and lower Titcomb
Lakes at the base of Fremont Peak. We were loving it that the
mosquitos were gone for the year. We found a nice little meadow
that was mostly shielded from the intense winds.
Julie decided that she was not up to attempting Fremont Peak and
would rather hike further up into upper Titcomb basin
. After tightening
the tent rain fly and enjoying the night sky, we hit the sack and
dreamed of the next days events.
Reflections in Titcomb Basin
We awoke to ice on our rain fly and a brisk wind. We quickly discovered that Titcomb
basin can be very cold in the morning as the steep walls of the basin block the early
morning sun. We also discovered the great shadow and light
show the sun and
the surrounding cliffs repeat every morning.
We prepared breakfast and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee. After stretching out my legs,
I grabbed my daypack, told Julie good luck exploring the upper Titcomb Basin
headed out around 8:00am.
Mistake Lake to the Southwest Buttress:
The saddle between Indian Lakes Basin and Titcomb Basin from above
I scrambled up the rock/grass slopes on the east side of Titcomb basin
to Mistake Lake. Mistake Lake is huge for hanging on the side of a cliff!
After enjoying the views from Mistake Lake
I headed around the outlet
on the north end of the lake and began to climb southeast to the saddle
on the southwest buttress. There was no trail or route to speak of that
I could find. Route finding skills are helpful in avoiding the various short
cliffs and loose rock. With care it was possible to make it the saddle
from Mistake Lake with nothing greater than difficult Class 2/easy Class
3. During a short break I took a picture back towards Mistake Lake
capturing the color difference
in lower Titcomb Lake from glacial runoff and
non-glacial runoff. As I reached the saddle on the southwest buttress,
Indian Lakes Basin
came into view. I noticed that the route up from the
Indian Lakes side looked much easier.
Up the Southwest Buttress to the Summit:
After a short breather on the saddle I took a deep breath and began to tackle the Class 3
southwest buttress. I had got a preview
from down at the head of Titcomb Basin of the
southwest buttress. Now that I was finally on it, I looked back down after a few minutes
and was impressed with the view
. After climbing about halfway up the southwest buttress
I stopped shortly to enjoy the views of Summer Ice Lake
on the opposite side of Titcomb Basin
It is surrounded by some very impressive peaks and a glacier.
After a final push I found myself on the summit. It was unbelievably windy up there! I had
been fighting a pretty steady 10-20mph wind all day but this was ridiculous - there were a
few gusts that I thought would sweep me right off the northeast cliffs to the Upper Fremont
Glacier below! I kept a low profile and soaked in the views of Gannett Peak
and all of the
Glaciers northeast of the Continental Divide, views back towards the Elkhart Park
Seneca and Island Lakes
and Jackson Peak
On the descent I ran into four climbers from Massachusetts on the saddle that had came up from Indian
Lakes Basin. After speaking with them for a few minutes I was convinced that the Indian Lakes Basin
approach is easier than the Mistake Lake approach. While we were talking another lone climber came
along. These were the only five people I saw the whole day outside of my wife Julie. Ah, the beauty
of hitting the Winds outside of peak season!