| Hallett, our nemesis (failed attempt)
I usually don't write trip reports about failed attempts, but I thought some people might be interested in conditions (some shots of Longs Peak, too), so here it goes ...
For some reason, Hallett Peak (12,713') seems to be our nemesis mountain. Over the past few years, Jen and I have failed to summit this mountain at least four times, for one reason or another, and had to settle for Flattop Mountain (12,324'). One time I got a really bad blister so we turned back; other times it was weather related; on Sunday, high winds were to blame.
The weather forecast for Estes Park looked great for Sunday – sunny, temps in the 50s and just a light, 6- to 8-mph wind. It was a completely different story above treeline.
At 8:45 a.m. we pulled into the Bear Lake parking lot. We could see blowing snow and spin-drifts above the Tyndall Glacier, but we were hoping it would die down by the time we got up there.
The trail was pretty packed down so we were able to boot hike to about the second trail junction (second left). After postholing a few times, we donned the snowshoes.
After we broke above treeline there was no longer a packed trail to follow. The icy wind was ferocious and it quickly cleared our snowshoe tracks. I kept looking back to take mental pictures of the way back down.
Here are a couple shots of Longs Peak taken from Flattop Mountain's broad shoulder:
As we ascended, we couldn't tell where the summer trail was (though we did see the occasional cairn) but it didn't really matter. We just kept heading up across the snow and around the rocky slope. The wind was so strong it was difficult to stay upright at times.
The gusts on the north face of Flattop were pretty fierce. At times, shards of broken ice and grapple snow pelted us in the face. With each gust, we had to turn away and look downslope until it let up a bit. I kicked myself for not bringing ski goggles.
The snow seemed to be packed pretty good, although there were some icy spots from recent melting and freezing cycles.
Even though it was hard to see them with all the blowing snow, we saw a couple skiers coming down from Flattop:
Not far from Flattop's broad summit (at about 11 a.m.), we decided to call it a day. While we did bring a lot of winter-weather gear, we hadn't planned on such brutal conditions. The wind didn't seem to be letting up, either, and we imagined the climb from Flattop to Hallett would've been much worse.
Here's a bunny pretending he's invisible:
Here's the only dry patch on the entire climb:
View from the Moraine Park:
Sometime this summer we're going to give Hallett another shot. At least our nemesis mountain happens to be a relatively easy one that's close to home.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):