Flattop Mountain via Tyndall Glacier

(Part IV)

If you haven't read Part II, you've missed a fourth of the story!

I was now in the upper reaches of Tyndall Gorge, past the famous rock routes on the north face of Hallett, above treeline, and nearing the unnamed-on-the-map lake that is really known as Pool of Jade. The view towards Flattop and the massive cornice on the south face:

This was the second time I visited Pool of Jade, the first being a few years earlier with RC. The lake lives up to its name. The ice just under the surface glows a brilliant green. I knew I couldn't do it justice with my camera, but I had to try.

After the pool, it was all new territory to me (RC and I turned back at the pool). I made my way up the south gully that sneaks around Tyndall's nasty terminal moraine...

... which then turns north-west and intersects the base of the great glacier itself.

At the base of the glacier I was only 500-600 feet below the top. It isn't a very big glacier. In fact, I have friends who lived/visited Alaska who make it their life's mission to point this factoid out to me whenever I speak of "Colorado's great glaciers". Still, it is crevassed (meaning it moves), so it is technically a real glacier.

While pondering such thoughts I took yet another shot of Flattop:

The north side of the glacier is the gentlest, around 35 degrees. The south side (upon which I was now standing) is the steepest, exceeding 45 degrees in spots. I was a wimp, I started to traverse across the base of the glacier to the north (least-steep-looking) side of the glacier...

... and started up...

... and for some inexpelicable reason, decided I was not being challenged enough! That's right, suddenly the fearful Tyndall Glacier wasn't so fearful. I traversed a ways back south to steeper ground. The line I took (which no other footprints yet covered) was a sustained 40-45 degree jaunt. I met up with tracks about half way up, and followed those to the summit, all the while staying on steeper ground.

Looking at Hallett's true north face, I was tempted to follow the top of the glacier and catch those fine-looking snow couliors to the top of the mountain. However, the late-spring snow conditions weren't that good, in fact, in spots the snow was pretty rotten. I had a decent runout on the glacier with no rocks in the way, so I wasn't too worried about not being able to self arrest. Plus, the snow was so mushy any falling traction down the glacier would full of friction that could easily slow me down. Still, I was careful, self-belaying with my ice axe the entire way, probably more than necessary. Good step-kicking conditions.

This last photo is a blatent rip-off of the photo on Mike's Hikes where Mike Molloy took a picture of himself kicking back with his legs crossed in the photo. I forgot to cross my legs on this one, but it is a shot from the top of the glacier to the summit of Flattop.

Did I say last photo? Heck, no! You still have to read Part IV, if you want to see the complete story!

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