Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Half Mountain via Glacier Gorge TH.

Well, we kind of sort of had some finally good weather, which means it was snowing when we started and snowing when we ended, but we actually saw some sun in the middle.  I am not sure what is up with the weather.  I know we need the moisture and all, but why does it always have to be moist on my days off?  Case in point- it rained most of the night last night and has been raining for several hours today as well.
But hey, at least we got a few good hours in!
Dan and I started from the Glacier Gorge TH just after 7 am on the Seventh of May, 2013.  Our goal was Half Mountain.  This peak is along the ridge which borders the east side of Glacier Gorge and also holds Storm Peak and Longs Peak.  
Apparently this half mountain was once a whole mountain- a rounded hump cut in half by glacial action, the same glacier that formed the gorge.  Since I have hiked from this trail head alot recently, I'll spare you photos of the way up but tell you Alberta Falls is still frozen, though there is now water visible and audible just below it.  
We left the trail somewhere above Alberta Falls, before we actually reached the North Longs Peak Trail junction.  We just skirted along the creek until we hit the bridge.  Crossed, we followed a beat in trail for a bit until it turned uphill.  We decided to follow this, though according to the description in the book, it was heading up too early.  But we weighed this against having to break trail for miles.  So we followed the broken snowshoe/boot/ski trail up.
Tree on the slopes.
I took this photo from a vertigo inducing vantage point on the north face of Half Mountain.  You can't really tell how steep it was...
But here you can.  Pretty steep I'd say.  We were a bit concerned about the possibility of avalanches, but the snow conditions looked and felt great.  A more consolidated spring snow pack is on the way. 
Here is where the weather started to clear up a bit.  Looking around, it was still cloudy to the north, east, south, and west, but we were in this perfect little window.
I saw another cool looking tree on the slope, shaped by years of wind and weather.  I wish I had gotten the other side, as it reminded me of Danny Devito for some reason.  You gotta pay the troll toll...
Dan making his way up.
As we approached the summit, the trail we were following stopped, and it became our turn to take over.  I was feeling pretty great to my surprise.  I hadn't been out much in the past month and hadn't been above eleven thousand feet in awhile.  But I was motoring!
Staying near the ridge provided us the opportunity for some great views, like this one overlooking Glacier Gorge. 
A little bit higher up.
Dan in the lead as we start nearing the summit.  It looks close, but there is still a bit to go. 
Myself on Half Mountain.  Photo compliments of Daniel Regelson.
Dan joins me at 11482 feet.
The views?  Spectacular.
Looking south, Battle Mountain, Mt. Lady Washington.
West to the divide.  It was so cool to see the clouds rolling over it. 
Picture of the week?  Looking south along the ridge line that also holds Storm Peak and Longs Peak.
The Arrowhead.
The wind was definitely alot stronger up here, and a few minutes on the summit was all we needed.  We decided to stay near our steps initially, but to use the snow to our advantage in cushioning power.  After we hit tree line, we headed more north to avoid some of the steeper slopes, which might be more avalanche prone in the afternoon. 
Dan heads down. 
And down.  We could definitely feel the snow getting softer and slushier on the way down.  Postholing was deeper and much more frequent.
Far away peaks, dreams yet realized.
Much to our surprise, or perhaps not, we found ourselves right back on the trail we took on the way up.  It was a short way back to the Glacier Gorge trail.
Half Mountain from below.
And Half Mountain, on the left, as seen from the parking lot.  Looks pretty steep from here, but don't be intimidated!  We got back to the car shortly after eleven, giving us a time of just over four hours.
This was a pretty awesome and fun little peak.  I imagine if you were to head up here on a nice summer day, you'd likely have the summit to yourself.  It's a nice place to be.
Half Mountain north ridge via Glacier Gorge TH:
2.9 miles one way, 2302 foot gain.  Moderate+.

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