| Hallett - finally got it!
Route: Flattop Mountain Trail from Bear Lake
Round-trip distance: about 10 miles
Total elevation gain: about 3,200 feet
May 11 of this year was our fourth attempt at gaining Hallett Peak's summit. Here's the TR on that one, in case you're interested:
(It's amazing how much can change, snow-wise, in just a month and a half!)
I guess our nemesis finally gave in, as we gained Hallett's summit today. Luckily for us, the weather couldn't have been any better.
I love hitting RMNP in the early morning – no traffic or crowds, just elk:
This is probably the only occasion where I can get away with yelling "nice rack!" out the window:
At 6:40 a.m. we pulled into one of the front-row spots at the Bear Lake parking lot and started up the dry trail.
Bear Lake was calm and glassy. Hallett (and its "fin," which is about 400 feet lower than the true summit) loomed above:
I don't think we hit our first patch of snow until we turned onto the Flattop Mountain Trail (second left after leaving the Bear Lake loop trail). The snow patches were small, though – no special equipment or snowshoes needed.
As you can see in the following photo, many sections weren't very deep and they were tramped down pretty well. Some of it was slushy and some of it was icy, but none of it was that big of a deal.
The obligatory Longs Peak shot:
Here's a pic of some hikers ahead of us crossing the small snowfield just below Flattop Mountain's summit (again, no problems, and no special equipment needed):
After many failed attempts at getting Hallett (mostly due to snow storms, heavy winds or thunderstorms), we weren't screwing around. Not sure about the exact snow conditions, we brought our axes and crampons just in case. As it turned out, we didn't need them at all.
Lady Washington, Storm, Longs, Pagoda and Hallett from Flattop:
A well-cairned and fairly easy-to-follow trail led us up a talus slope to Hallett's summit. You can see a couple climbers near the top in this pic:
Shortly after 9 a.m. we made it to the top of Hallett. Gaining the summit was a nice feeling and the views were tasty.
I loved the layered look of the mountains and canyons. From the foreground to the background: Chaos Canyon, Loch Vale and Glacier Gorge:
Great views were had in every direction. Here's one looking toward the southwest:
Looking north, with Flattop Mountain in the foreground and the Mummy Range in the background:
Classic U-shaped glacial valley, viewed from the top of Tyndall Glacier:
Another shot of Hallett, taken from the saddle between Flattop and Hallett, with the Tyndall Glacier in the foreground:
Overall, it was a great climb (FINALLY!), and we met some very friendly YMCA summer workers (from Minnesota, North Carolina and Missouri) on the summit.
The views from that area are some of the best in the Park, in my opinion.
It took us about two hours to hike back down to the parking lot. When the sharks – er, people driving around looking for a spot – saw us walking toward our car, they were literally salivating out their windows. The lot was completely full and getting our front-row spot was like winning the lottery.
On our drive home (via 36 to 66), a steady stream of cars poured toward Estes Park. It was unbelievable. Summer is officially here. I love RMNP, but I think we'll give it a break until the fall, when the crowds die down.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):