I damn near talked myself into sleeping in when my alarm went off at 2:30am, but I was up and on the road to RMNP by 3am. There were about 10 cars in the Glacier Gorge TH lot when I arrived at 4:45, and although I figure they were overnighters, I didn't see one camp all day.
The trek began at 5am sharp. I had heard of a cutoff trail that would save time, but I'm really glad I decided to see Alberta Falls at sunrise - hopefully my photos will be good. As soon as the sun poked out, I was stashing my long sleeves in the pack.
I reached the Andrews Tarn just as 7:30 rolled around. I was taken back by how beautiful the scene up there was, I had to sit and soak it in for a while.
The snow on the glacier was soft and rotten when I began the climb - crampons saved me a ton of slipping and sliding. Andrews was much shorter than I imagined; I marched to the top and was gearing down in only 30 minutes. The view West from the saddle was excellent! Wild flowers were speckled all over the area.
Originally, I had planned on climbing Otis, but when I saw Hallett Peak, something told me that Otis would wait for another day. I walked North past Chaos Canyon, and after hopping up the SW side, I was on the summit at 9:20am...the weather was awesome up there: totally clear and a light breeze to keep the bugs off.
I chatted with some other hikers then headed back down towards Andrews. I made friends with a marmot on the way back, and he was nice enough to let me take his picture.
The glissade down the glacier at 10:40 was slow and wet, but it sure beats walking down! It looked like someone couldn't stop in time at the end...it looked like an ass track ended in the tarn! After a can of peaches for lunch, I packed my things and left the moraine at 11:00. I was feeling really good on the way down and cruising from the Tarn to the trailhead in one shot felt awesome! I couldn't believe how many people I met on the way back down...I bet I passed at least 70 people on their way up the trail...I guess that's how it goes in the summer.
I think this was one of my favorite climbs so far, and I'm sure I'll be back soon for Otis and maybe Taylor!
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