Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Spearhead.

I have to thank my wife for motivating this day.  Though I am very close to finishing off RMNP (only 15 things left!), it's going to be a full day to visit alot of those, and that full day spent to visit just one thing.  I guess it's been poor planning to leave those orphans behind, but I'd planned to visit this one multiple times, but wisely turned around due to weather on all of those.  
With other outdoor goals on my mind, it's been difficult to commit a whole nice weather summer day to just one thing when I can head elsewhere and check off multiple other goals.  But early last week, Katie was kind enough to ask, "What about RMNP?"
What about RMNP?
With a long outing on Tuesday, I was happy for a shorter drive and shorter day two days later.  Despite a good(ish) weather prediction, I decided to play it safe and get above treeline early, and back down by noon.  The Spearhead was the perfect choice for the day, just long enough that I'd feel accomplished, a little bit of scrambling, and great views, or so I hoped.
I started from the Glacier Gorge trail head just after sunrise, and passed a person on the trail shortly after, which would turn out to be the only person I saw until much later in the day.  Wanting to be as efficient as possible, I took the Fire Trail and popped out just below the Black Lake trail.  It was a short jaunt from there to the ever charming Mills Lake, aka sexy lake.  
One sexy lake!  Any time of the year, any time of day, except maybe for at night.
I like this lake alot, and I like that one can see the farther and higher destinations from it.  Always fun to know I'll be "over there" soon enough.
I continued along the trail to Black Lake.  While there's only 600 feet or so of elevation gain between the two lakes, it seems to take some time as there are lots of ups and downs. 
Nearing Black Lake, which is late to get sun due to being situated down in a bowl.  But the peaks to the east catch the early morning sun...
here, reflected in the lake. 
The trail takes another turn uphill here, paralleling a pleasantly gurgling stream.  Soon enough though, you'll top out into Glacier Gorge, a place of endless beauty.
The goal for the day directly ahead.
Once you get here, you can either follow the many cairns and hope you're going in the right direction, or just pick the way you want to go and do your best.  There's alot of cairns up here.
A favorite, McHenrys Peak(also).
I approached the monolithic northeast face, and followed a climbers trail to the right/west.  While I'd love to actually climb this peak one day, it was not in the cards today.  I planned to go up and back down the third class down climb.
The trail was easy enough to follow, and I soon helmeted up and started up the scree slope.  While I never saw anyone above me, I did see signs of recent rockfall throughout the day, and heard rockfall as well.  So a helmet is definitely a great idea, if you want to keep having ideas. 
Looking down the slope to Frozen Lake.  Also as a reference for later.
As I came down a different way, there is a place where you might face a choice to go left or right.  I stayed right going up, but came down the left option.  Both work fine, maybe a bit more technical movement on the left side, which is more direct to the summit.
Getting there, just a look at the terrain.
I was close to the summit ridge when I saw a cairn above me, so I climbed up a crack.  This was the most difficult movement of the day, and unnecessary as it turns out.  I got to the top and started to traverse over, but found a unfeatured slab in the way.  If it were right off the ground, no problem.  But at these airy heights, I decided to go back down and go around.
Looking over to Chiefs Head(also).
From here, it was a mostly easy scramble up to a thin catwalk, then a careful walk across this to what looked like the summit.  I sat for a minute, and then headed back.  Then I turned around, and looked back.
Now I could clearly see the summit was a few inches higher than where I'd just been.  The rectangular block on the left is it.  It's just a few third class but exposed moves to reach the top.
The view down all of Glacier Gorge.  Pretty spectacular!
A view downish the north ridge.
I turned back, and made the few moves back to more solid ground.
The Spearhead, Glacier Gorge- Rocky Mountain National Park from Andy Rose on Vimeo.
What a place to be!
On the way back I stopped at a window I saw in the rock.
Keyboard of the Winds reflected in Green Lake.
Looking back down Glacier Gorge from near the summit.
On the way back down, I stayed a little more east than I did on the way up.  It looked like both ways are down climbs, as there was a pretty obvious and occasionally cairned social trail.  The east route was maybe slightly more technically difficult, but not bad at all.
Looking up the pile of rubble I'd come down.
Near the bottom, Frozen Lake.
I stopped to take my helmet off and get situated, and then started the jog back to the trailhead.
A good view of McHenrys and The Arrowhead over Black Lake.
I saw alot more people on the way down than on the way up, but none on the Fire Trail.  It was nice to get back to RMNP, if ever so briefly.  It will be nice to finally finish this project/list.  I just need to remember to dedicate a few days to it here and there!
Link to hike map on Caltopo.
The Spearhead, 12575 feet: 13.25 miles rt, 5658 foot gain.  Third class.  Strenuous-.
*Do note, both the distance and elevation gain figures in the linked map which are cited here are very likely too high due to GPS having some trouble reading/connecting, particularly in the area of the summit.  A hand drawn line using the snap to feature on Caltopo gives around 10.25 miles with 3600 gain.