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An Otis Peak Camp

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An Otis Peak Camp

Postby Igloo Ed » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:26 pm

Frank and I had planned to do a more serious igloo trip and a storm was forecast to move in around noon on the day we started the trip. Funny how both of us figured this suited us just fine as we hoped to be at camp and building the igloo about the time it started snowing. We knew it wouldn’t make good pictures compared to the glorious sunny days of Colorado but we both know the peacefulness of being out in the falling snow.
It was a cool 15F. in Estes Park when I passed through and probably 10F. at the trailhead. Although cold, I love those temps as snow doesn’t melt on me and get me wet and I don’t work up as much of a sweat.
The peaks had some clouds on them as we left the trailhead but there was still a lot of blue sky and warm sun as we headed up the trail, making for a very pleasant day of breaking trial up to Haiyaha. My friend Tim had decided to tag along as far as the lake and then return with his friend he had brought along so he wouldn’ bet snowshoeing solo.
I hadn’t been up the trail for a few weeks and what scant snow we had received since then was easy to break trail through.
We parted ways with Tim a short distance before the lake and headed up the side of Otis Peak hoping we’d have an easy go of it. The snow in the woods was mostly deep enough to have a solid base but we did sink in deep in the shallow areas but not enough to slow us down.
We reached the base of the climb a bit after 10:00 am and found rocks, that are normally buried this time of year, sitting well above the snow level:
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The grade of the climb gets one’s attention when looking across the slope but we stayed away from the avalanche prone areas:
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We were able to weave up the edge of the snowfield through trees and some large drifts. The weaving made the grade a bit more gradual in most areas but it also put us in shallow snow amongst some of krumholtz:
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It was a very steep ascent at first but we were able to stay away from the avalanche prone snowfield.
The grade was still steep above the snowfield but we were able to travel on the main drifts and avoid the krumholtz. We also had to take our snowshoes off for a good amount of rock hopping until we neared the ridge top where the snow got deeper again.
We arrived at the campsite a bit after 1:00 pm after nearly three hours of arduous trail breaking.
We built our platform on a steep slope and took a lunch break at 2:00 pm to let the platform setup and get stronger before starting to build our igloo. It had been snowing lightly as we built the platform but stopped while we had our lunch:
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Frank started getting the igloo tool ready at 2:15 on the platform that still had the avalanche probe sticking up in the center of the platform. We’d used the probe to find a deep spot amongst the underlying boulders for our door and trench:
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It had taken quite a bit of snow to make a level platform big enough for our 8 ft. igloo:
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We worked on the igloo for two hours before taking another short break:
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Although the site doesn’t have a 360 degree view like my other favorite campsite it does have a good view:
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Another hour and the sun started setting lighting up the clouds to the NE:
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We worked with headlamps for the last part of the igloo build but we were relaxing and eating at 9:15 pm. We awoke the next morning to find 4 or 5 inches of snow had fallen overnight and the skies were overcast:
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It was downhill back to the trailhead but it was a 1700 ft. drop with full packs. We began packing up at 11:00 am:
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I had shoveled the walk in the morning and camp was sweet:
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The descent was much better than the previous day’s ascent, we were able to see and follow the braided drifts through the rocks:
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There were areas of small rocks we had to cross from one drift to another:
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We got back to the trailhead at 2:30 and I was dragging a bit but it was a good drag.

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Re: An Otis Peak Camp

Postby climbingaggie03 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:16 pm

Looks like a fun trip, a great igloo, and a beautiful spot. I've been wanting to get up to RMNP and do some igloo camping, but I've been doubtful that there was enough snow. Looks like it's getting there.

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Re: An Otis Peak Camp

Postby Alpine » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:02 am

Looks like fun Ed.

Is 7 hours a typical amount of time for two peope to build an igloo?
"You know I've always loved you...and you know I always will." Third Day

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Re: An Otis Peak Camp

Postby Igloo Ed » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:36 pm

Alpine wrote:Looks like fun Ed.

Is 7 hours a typical amount of time for two peope to build an igloo?

It can vary from 1hour 40 minutes to 11 hours depending on who is building it and the snow conditions.
This one took more time due to having to move a lot of snow when building the platform/floor for the igloo. It was on a steep slope, that is why the quarry was so deep in the pic with my bud standing next to the quarry wall That floor took us an hour.
This was an eight foot diameter igloo and we had 5 inches of powder on top of styrofoam snow. My bud still has a bit to learn about using the styrofoam snow so he can give me snow that I can pack faster and also how to work the snow so he can feed it to me faster.
About a month ago, the same bud and I built a nine foot igloo in four hours with good snow but not the best/fastest.
Then too, I've built the seven foot solo igloo in two hours with some of the best snow.
A lot of our customers seem to come in around four or five hours on their first igloo.

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Re: An Otis Peak Camp

Postby ChrisRoberts » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:42 pm

Awesome!
Some rise, some fall, some climb to get to terrapin
Read all about my schemes and adventuring at NoCo Chris Latest TR: Ramsay, Sugarloaf and Skull

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Re: An Otis Peak Camp

Postby Alpine » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:46 pm

Thanks for the info. Maybe someday I will try that...


By the way I read a lot of your posts over on the RMNP forum. You get out a lot - and should post more often over here - lots of interest here on general RMNP area conditions and TRs.
"You know I've always loved you...and you know I always will." Third Day

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Re: An Otis Peak Camp

Postby Igloo Ed » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:11 pm

climbingaggie03 wrote:I've been wanting to get up to RMNP and do some igloo camping

Looks like my bud cancelled for this weekend. Wanna go?

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