Peak(s):  Taylor Pk B  -  13,153 feet
Otis Peak - 12486
Date Posted:  07/06/2013
Modified:  07/07/2013
Date Climbed:   07/04/2013
Author:  vonmackle
 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

Andrews Creek

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):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions

07/07/2013 01:28
Tell me, is the size of Andrew's Glacier ”typical” for July? I remember it being so much larger than that even in mid-late July in the early 1980s, but then, I was so much smaller.

Brian Thomas

your photography
07/07/2013 01:43
Your photos are beyond awesome. Take my stupid Droid 4 phone, break it over my head, and take me to the store to buy a real camera, so I can even begin to attempt to show all these kidz how it's done for real...


Your Profile...
07/07/2013 02:35
...of Longs Peak is perhaps the best I've seen!

You took fantastic photos!


07/07/2013 16:25
You are a talented photographer.

Brian C

07/08/2013 01:02
Your photos are amazing! I especially liked the one of the water drop and ripples. Incase you want to know, the ”interesting” feature in photo #10 is called Zowie. Nice report!


Great photos and report!
07/08/2013 17:36
I did Otis and Taylor as a combo a few years ago and thought it was a great hike (but I ascended Otis' NE ridge and descended via the glacier). Since that time the only way I could re-live the hike was through my mediocre pictures, until you came along with your truly fine photos. Bravo! By the way snow cover on the glacier looks similar to what I saw in 2008, but I don't recall that I saw any open crevasses
when sliding down the glacier.


07/08/2013 17:37
Amazing... As many times as I've been up to Loch Vale, I just realized that I've never been there in summer. That needs to change.

Thanks again for posting!


I can only echo...
07/08/2013 18:16
...what others have said about your photography. Absolutely incredible...


Thanks, everybody!
07/09/2013 00:20
From other pictures I've seen, the size of the glacier varies quite a bit. I'm sure it looks a little better this year because of the spring snow, but I'm guessing it looked much better back in the '80s.


The park
07/09/2013 13:50
Great pics of one of the most beautiful alpine basins in the park. I won't forget the first time I went up the trail to Andrews Glacier from the Loch. The spires and towers rising high above were breathtaking. I've been up the glacier twice...once for Taylor, once for Powell. This report brings back those good memories. Definitely a place to return to again and again. And...I've seen you move on rock like a natural. I think the RMNP list would be within your reach...

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