Friday, April 5, 2013

Another attempt at Sky Pond.

Again this week I went for Sky Pond.  While I didn't make it, again due to snow conditions, this day stands in my mind as the single most beautiful day I've ever had in the park.  This was mostly helped by the three to eight inches of powder that had fallen the night before.  Everywhere I looked was like a postcard.  This was helped along by the crystal clear blue skies and almost no wind. 

 Alberta Falls, now covered in snow, soon to be roaring.

At the Loch looking up.  I noticed on the way back it was getting a little slushy here and there.  Might be wise to start going around soon.
I got to a clearing below the standard route, and could see from there things did not look good.  I could see the footprints of someone who had been up recently and turned back.  The slope on the right had actually avalanched, covering their tracks in places. 
I decided to try to take the gentle looking snow ramp up the north face of Thatchtop.  It looked like the slope flattened out at a height that was just above where you'd top out the standard route.  Going up was ok- the snow was firm, and I stuck to areas where rocks were visible, and there was less snow.
Looking across the gorge to the hillside which had avalanched in several places.  I even heard something fall while I was up there.
This area of snow on Thachtop looked like it was ready to go at any second.
So this is what I saw from my high point.  The way across looked bad, crossing several small couloirs with deep snow in them.  Also on my mind was that as soon as the sun hit this slope, the snow conditions would start to change quite rapidly.  I traded my snowshoes for crampons and one of my hiking poles for an ice axe and headed down
However, while I was up here I did managed to find Embryo Lake, a small pool that lies above the Loch and below Sky Pond.  I am told there is an unofficial trail to this which joins the main trail at the split for Andrews Glacier.  Of course, I cannot confirm this!  But I'd say you want to go about ten to fifteen minutes past the Loch and then turn left when you cross Andrews Creek.
Looking back up.
Embryo Lake.
I took the higher trail on my way back down.  Got this cool view.
At the split for Mills Lake and Loch Vale, I remembered seeing a sign for Lake Haiyaha.  With plenty of time left in the day, I decided I would go for that.  Apparently, this also serves as the winter trail to access Loch Vale and Glacier Gorge, and there is a turnoff somewhere for Lake Haiyaha.  I didn't know this, and by the time I found this out from another hiker, I was pretty far down and just decided to call it a day.  

Back at the parking lot. 
Well, no big write up this time, this is essentially the same hike as the last attempt.  But a pretty fun day in spectacular scenery was had.  The spring meltdown is definitely on in full force, and though we will certainly get some more snow, things should be clearing up soon.
Also if you haven't seen it, the full report on the fatal avalanche involving Lisa Foster has been released on CAIC.  Read it here.
Embryo Lake via Glacier Gorge TH:
3.7 miles one way, 1200 foot gain.  Moderate+.