Saturday, March 23, 2013

Loch Vale in the winter.

I met up with Dan in Lyons again this past Tuesday.  The drive up to Estes was pretty mellow.  Our plan was to attack the entire Loch Vale drainage, ending up at Sky Pond.  
Some of our talk on the way up centered around the avalanche last weekend that killed one person and left author Lisa Foster injured.  Of course, always a reminder that even the most experienced persons can get into trouble.  We decided to proceed and keep an eye on the slopes around us with avalanche conditions listed as considerable.  My condolences to the family of Mr. Laurienti and wishes for a speedy recovery to Ms. Foster.
Also weighing somewhat heavily on my mind was the passing of a friend and someone who has been a major inspiration in my life last Saturday, the 15th.  After a long fight with an incurable genetic illness, he ended his own life.
Alberta Falls, not falling.
Views await....
Fortunately at our lower and more sheltered elevation, we were not exposed to the full force of the wind.  Looking at the snow blown off these peaks makes me feel chilly!

This is the final part of the hike to The Loch.  Shortly after, you'll reach the lake.
At the lake the wind was ripping, and we quickly made our way around it to find some shelter in the trees for a snack.  Up until now, there had been just a few inches of new or blown snow over an obvious packed trail.  We were just in boots the whole way up.  But the packed trail was less defined on the other side of the lake, with more snow on top.  Postholing ensued.  Soon we stopped and put on our snowshoes.
Last week I didn't feel great, but this week my legs were ready, and I was happy to take a turn in the front and break trail.
Saw this frozen boot print standing at a 90 degree angle to the snow surface.
Looking back down the gorge.
We got to the part of the trail that would normally require a short scramble up some rocky stuff to continue on.  The standard route here was looking worse and worse the closer we got.

In the end, we identified 3 possible routes up.  The standard in blue had corniced snow and scrambling, the red and green both crossed steep snow fields.  We talked and both agreed Sky Pond would have to wait for another day.  It's disappointing to not be able to obtain a goal, but of course it'll be there next time, and it's better to err on the side of caution.
The Loch from above.
Back at The Loch we started to see a few people.  The wind had calmed down a bit and I was able to get a few photos.

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
The surface of the lake was mindbending.  Frozen, cracked, melted, refrozen.
At this point we decided to take a trip over to Mills Lake.
Shortly after, at Mills Lake, aka "Sexy Lake".  Seriously, search Google Images for the phrase sexy lake.  This is one of the few actual sexy lakes that comes up!
But all jest aside, this really is one of the most beautiful and accessible lakes in the park.
Traffic picked up on the way back to the parking lot.  I love seeing families out, little kids with snowshoes strapped to their feet.
This cool looking tree was along the trail on the way back.
We got back to the parking lot, which was now almost full!  I guess that will only get worse as the season goes on.  But, not really a concern for me since I am usually there by dawn.
Despite not obtaining our ultimate goal for the day, it was still a fun day in the park, as I'd say pretty much any day in the park is.
In loving memory of Shannon Larratt.
The Loch via Glacier Gorge TH:
2.9 miles one way, 1000 foot gain.  Moderate.

No comments:

Post a Comment