| Otis and Taylor via Andrews Pass
Holiday weeks almost always result in a bisected weekend. I get the holiday off, but have to work the following Saturday to make up for it. I usually use these single days off to either explore the mountains closer to home, or to sit around and curse myself for not being in the mountains. I had been wanting to scout out some photography locations around the Sharkstooth in Rocky Mountain National Park for quite some time, so I decided to use my day off on the fourth to do just that. I woke up at 3am, threw on my "I'm Pumped For Handies" T-shirt, ate some granola, hopped into my Prius and drove to the Glacier Gorge trailhead.* I hit the trail around 5 (it takes a while to get up to the Park when you're driving the speed limit), and made my way towards the split rock that marks the beginning of the shortcut trail. I have taken a shortcut north of East Glacier Knob several times, mostly in the winter, but I always left the main trail too soon and never actually took THE shortcut. I remember seeing the split rock while backpacking in June and made a note to try this shortcut the next time. This trail has multiple benifits: it saves about a half mile each way, it provides excellent views of Hallett, and on the return it avoids the traffic jam of tourists on the main trail.
*certain elements of this statement may or may not be true
The split rock that marks the start of the shortcut trail
Sunrise from the Glacier Gorge Shortcut Trail
Along the shortcut trail
Hallett Peak bathed in morning light
Along the Loch Vale Trail
At the Loch
Stream crossing by the Sky Pond/Andrews Glacier split
Interesting features on the south side of Otis
First good look at the Sharkstooth
For those of you who were wondering...yes, the Sharkstooth is ranked, and Rocky will likely be yet another list I will never complete.
Andrews Tarn and Glacier
After enjoying Andrews Tarn, I got out my axe, put on my spikes and headed up Andrews Glacier
I quickly became bored walking up the glacier and started looking for a more direct route up Otis. I followed a line of grassy slopes and ramps that appeared to provide easy passage to the ridge, but as I approached the top I encountered some steeper terrain that required a few class 3 (fun) moves. As I was just about to top out, I discovered that I would have to cross about 20 feet of steep snow in order to gain the ridge. I was very glad to have my axe handy because there was no way in hell I would have tried this otherwise.
Longs peeking over the Thatchtop/Powell traverse
The summit of Otis was not much farther after reaching the ridge, and I could already see people enjoying the summit of Hallett off in the distance.
Near the Summit of Otis
Hallett from Otis
After a brief stay on Otis I made my way down to Andrews Pass. I had only intended to hike Otis, but I was feeling good, the weather looked great, and Taylor's gradual grassy slopes looked very inviting.
Looking over toward Taylor (upper right)
I passed the sign above Andrews Glacier on my way towards Taylor. As I would later discover on my glissade down the glacier, the sign does not lie. I saw several open crevasses, one of which appeared to have been recently skied or glissaded over and could have easily swallowed a person. I was glad to see the person's tracks continued on past the crevasse.
At Andrews Pass, looking back at Otis and my approximate route up from the glacier
Alpine Forget-Me-Nots (Lego Flowers)
Taylor's Summit Welcoming Committee. (Good thing I have two hands!)
Looking down on the Sharkstooth and Sky Pond
Back at Andrews Tarn
Yet another great day in the Park.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):