| Storm Peak north slope via Glacier Gorge TH
Destination: Storm Peak (13,326')
Trailhead: Glacier Gorge
Round Trip: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 4160'
Trip Time: 7:15 (30 minutes on the summit)
Difficulty: Class 2
I have been fortunate recently to be able to do several great hikes. While browsing Lisa Foster's RMNP The Complete Hiking Guide, I became quite interested in hiking Storm Peak from Glacier Gorge. This is not the standard route for Storm Peak. It requires approximately 0.6 miles of off-trail hiking through a forest, but if you'd like to find solitude on your way to Storm Peak, this is a good route. The route is class 2. The first 4 miles are class 1 trail, followed by some off-trail forest, then tundra and stable class 2 talus.
I had passed through the boulder field beneath Storm Peak several times, but never made my way to the summit. I decided to do Storm Peak on a Sunday. I arrived at the trailhead just before 7AM, finding the parking area already over half full.
It was a beautiful day, and I hit the trail at 7. I was surprised at the lack of people on the trail at this time. I'm accustomed to seeing this trail absolutely packed, but I am generally in this area later in the day. There are a few junctions on this trail – the first is at Glacier Gorge Junction (0.25 miles from the trailhead). Turn south at the junction, following the Loch Vale/Glacier Gorge trail toward Alberta Falls. I passed two groups before reaching Alberta Falls, and they were the last people I saw until I was above treeline. Alberta Falls is 0.6 miles past the junction, and this is the first time I can recall enjoying the falls alone.
The next trail junction is with the North Longs Peak trail, approximately 1.7 miles from the trailhead. Take the North Longs Peak trail east. Follow this trail until the junction with the Boulder Brook trail, approximately 3.9 miles from the trailhead. At this point, the Boulder Brook trail heads north. Very near the same location, there is a trail leading south to a privy. Take this trail toward the privy. The GPS coordinates for this junction are N40° 17.339' W105° 37.044'. The trail up to this point has not provided much elevation gain. The first 4.3 miles of this hike contain less than 1200' of gain, but the remaining 1.8 miles pack in almost 3000' of gain.
Hike almost directly south past the privy, then continue south through the forest for 0.6 miles to treeline. I came out of the forest at approximately N40° 16.922' W105° 36.895'. There are quite a few fallen trees, and the forest is not particularly dense.
From treeline, you'll see a broad slope to the south, and a gully along a ridge to the southwest. This ridge is the north ridge of Storm Peak, although the summit is obscured from your view at treeline. Half Mountain is visible to the northwest, and PT 12,158 is an interesting feature to the west-southwest. This point shares a saddle with Storm Peak. There was a hiker in this saddle, who was the last person I saw until reaching the summit of Storm Peak and viewing Longs Peak's boulder field.
Here is PT 12,158 and its saddle with Storm Peak. PT 12,158 is near the center of the picture, and Storm Peak's summit is out of view to the south (left in the picture).
Not far above treeline, you'll gain fantastic views of the Mummy range to the north.
At this point, hike south then southwest. Aim for the top of the broad slope to your south, but somewhat toward the gully in the west. The grass near treeline gives way to tundra sprinkled with talus.
As you reach the top of the broad slope, the summit of Storm will come into view. The line I chose led me south and a bit west, and the tundra beneath me turned to talus.
I reached the top of Storm's north ridge at approximately 12,900', where a refreshing wind picked up slightly. I followed the ridge line to the summit, reaching it at 10:45, 6.1 miles from the trailhead. The sky was almost perfectly clear, and I had the summit to myself. The views to the west over Glacier Gorge are incredible! The lakes below and the peaks all around the gorge are fantastic. By the time you reach Storm's summit, many other peaks come into view, including Longs peak, Pagoda, Chiefs Head, McHenry's, Mount Lady Washington, Battle Mountain, Meeker, and Twin Sisters.
Pagoda, Chiefs Head:
Summit of Storm with Longs Peak in the background:
Looking back over Storm's north ridge, with several lakes, including Bear Lake and Mills Lake:
I stayed on the summit for nearly a half hour, soaking up the views, snacking, and enjoying a fantastic day. Here's a "Drago" from the summit:
I essentially retraced my steps back to the trail head. However, by this time, there were many more people on the trail. I ran into a few people on the North Longs Peak trail, then several more groups on the Loch Vale trail. By early afternoon at Alberta Falls, the numbers on the trail were up to normal. I was very happy with my hike for the day, and I made my way back to the trailhead by 2:15.
I had a fantastic day, and this route is a fun change from the Longs Peak trail. There is a lot more solitude on this route compared to the Longs Peak trail. You could also easily go tag PT 12,158 on this route. The profile for this hike is interesting, in that you gain less than 1200' over the first 4.3 miles, then gain over 2900' in the last 1.8 miles. The summit ridge is class 2 talus, and the rock is generally stable.
Lastly, here's a topo showing the route that I took. Several nearby waypoints are shown as hiker icons.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):