Taylor Peak - Taylor Glacier
Trip Report Written By Brian KrausEarly.
It's early again. 0300hrs I roll around to picking up Andy. We stop by the convenience store for coffee. What do you mean you have to make the coffee? So we wait for a few minutes and I find the most perfectest climbing food, ever so simplistic in its beauty - cotton candy in a bag. $1.30 for two ounces of the simplest of ingredients - sugar. And Red #40.
We park at glacier gorge parking lot at 0440hrs and Scott, James, and Da Jamies are waiting for us. Guess we're a tad late? It's hot at the lot; it was over 70F in town when we left, it is cooler than that but I start off in shorts and thin shirt. Easy trekking in the dark brings us up to the Loch by first light. It's quite cloudy and we're unsure of exactly what the weather is going to do. It turns out to be beneficial - the nightly cloud cover kept it warm, and now the cover is keeping the sun off of us. Up past Sky Pond and soon we are at the terminus of the glacier gearing up.
Great snow conditions, not bulletproof yet not soupy. The right mixture to kick-step a good foothold and have it actually hold. We make quick and constant progress up the glacier. I'm feeling good and strong, no altitude or speed sickness. About halfway up, Scott needs to stop and re-apply his crampon, the toe-bail had popped off. James, Scott and I continued the lead up the glacier while the Andy and Da Jamie's choreographed the movie from below.
The finish has the glacier split into two; the main finish is pretty much straight up or the left branch. I had been up here before and done that branch. The right branch looked quite inviting; it was as steep (maybe steeper in short sections at a time) but much narrower. In fact it was melted away from both sides so much there was only about a 4 foot wide strip, and this was undercut by the sides melted down and under itself. Also the top was capped with this cool looking snow fin jutting into the air. I needed some more adventure and jumped onto it.
It got real steep as I traversed right to get underneath the branch, but the snow was so awesome the steps were secure. The first section went up to around 70deg for about 7 feet and was some real fun adventure; I could just barely use my ax in a plunge-belay mode. Plus I had to get dead center on it as the sides would cause me to punch through the overhanging snow; it was barely 4 feet wide. Things eased off quickly but again narrowed and steeped for another short section. Eased up again and I was able to hop off the snow about 70% of the way up and carefully ledge traverse on rock over to an overlook of the left branch. Got to see the Andy bareback riding the snow fin at the top of the left branch; the fin had pulled away from the top, end part of the snow, so you had to go up and over the fin then finish going up another short wall.
I went back to my branch and continued up to the snow fin/pillar. It got a bit tricky now; I wanted to go around the right side of it but it was pretty much vertical and the soft snow would not have been able to hold me well. But the rock was mostly featureless on the left side. What I ended up doing was to wedge myself between the snow and rock while stemming on the rock and backstepping into the snow. I sort of chimneyed up and backwards until I squeezed onto the backside of the snow pillar. I then had to trust my weight to a mantle move onto a large chockstone; luckily it held and I cruised the remaining 10ft of choss to the top.
Everyone else was done and resting. Came over and rested and ate too. Broke out the Cotton Candy; quite possibly the most perfect mountaineering food. Lightweight and full of energy boosting simple sugar at practically no weight cost. We packed up and clamored up the west side of Taylor for a group photo and some push-ups. I took a brief cat nap while Scott and James took off early. The rest of us eventually got going as the weather began building towards nasty. A quick glissade down Andrew's glacier and then the requisite trail march back to the car in a now heated valley filled with tourists. Got back to the car at 1430hrs just in time for the lightning to begin and the clouds opened up rain on all the peaks around us. El burrito pescado awaited us at Ed's, and after the well earned decompression we were all off on our separate ways.
I had an awesome day; as always it was great to get out and hang out with some great folks in the wilderness. Until next time!