Thatchtop Peak 12,466 ft

Northeast Slopes, class 2 , ~6 miles, ~3300 ft, August 2007 (Jared and Jen)

After My trip to the Chicago Basin I noticed my left foot was giving me problems.  I went to the doctor who said it was likely a mild case of Plantar Fasciitis and that I should lay off hiking for a few weeks.  This kind of sucked because it is prime season but I took the advice. I also went out and bought some supergel inserts for my shoes and boots and picked up a pair of Birkenstocks to wear around the house.  I hadn't realized walking bare foot was hard on the feet but I have to say I am pleased with how comfy the Birkenstocks are. On one weekend Dave and I went to Elevenmile to do some rock climbing and I got to spend the night in his camper.  Camping with a tv, stove, refrigerator, etc is the way to go.  Elevenmile was a very pretty (albeit) crowded place and the rock climbing was a lot of fun.  We only did five or six routes but we managed to drink a good bit of bear, have some rib eye steak, and meet guidebook author Stewart Green.  The next weekend I simply did nothing which was also pretty nice.  

Dave Leading 

One of many little critters around our campsite

The following weekend, August the 4th, I attempted to climb the North Buttress route on Pagoda Peak.  I went with a guy named Tim Halman whom I had met when I climbed Gambit in Eldo.  We spent the night at the Moraine park campground and woke up super early.  We hucked all the gear right to the base of the climb which looked absolutely fantastic ~1500 roped feet up to 5.7, but the weather was terrible so we turned around.  It was a shame because even though the weather looked as bad as I'd seen and had all the accompanying signs like building cloud tops, rapid cooling, etc, it ended up never doing anything. To top it off my knee gave out on the way down.  Ah well, the area is gorgeous and it has ignited a desire in me to do all the peaks up there in the coming years.  For some reason my knee has the bad habit of giving out every now and then but seeing as I was planning on a trip to the Grand Teton soon this was not a good time.  Tim was patient with me which was cool because I was not moving quickly and was in a ton of pain.  We spent a good bit of time at Mills Lake while I waited for my knee to heal up some and fed some of the chipmunks there.  While we were hanging out a couple from the east coast started chatting with us.  The guy noticed that we had rope and started saying we must be 'free rapelling' and that he had never done that but had been 'assisted rapelling' a long time ago.  I wasn't sure what he was talking about but can only imagine he thought we hucked rope all the way up there to find something to rap off of.   I didn't feel like explaining what we were doing so smiled and agreed with him and he went off happily.  After a time we got up and headed back to the car.  Both mine and Tim's schedule are pretty tied up but hopefully we can get out and do something in September. 

Building Clouds

Black Lake

Hiking Past The Spearhead

Getting Cloudier

Pagoda Peak

McHenry's Peak

Tim And The Chipmunk

There was no way I could attempt the grand without seeing if my knee was still bad so Jen and I decided to get out and give the Thatchtop-Powell traverse a try.  I'd gotten a lot of  beta from people on summitpost and Andy Leach had a good trip report describing it.  The traverse looked fantastic and we planned to go over and do Taylor Peak as well before descending via Andrew's Glacier.  Jen had never been in any of these areas so I thought it would be both a good test of my knee and an opportunity to show her a lot of places I had climbed.  We awoke at 2:15 Friday, August11th and headed to the park.  The weather was gorgeous and we were feeling good.  We were on our way by 4:00 AM.  We made it up the climbers trail and to the junction that splits the trail to the Loch and Glacier Gorge in short order.  There is no super obvious way to get up Thatchtop as it requires finding your way through the woods to a split in the cliff band.  The two options are to cross icy brook on the way to Glacier Gorge and immediately head into the woods or to head to the Loch and cross the stream right before the switchbacks.  In the dark both of these would require a bit of route finding and the Icy Brook option at least had a bridge so we choose that one.  

We turned right as soon as we crossed the stream and followed a faint climbers trail for a time.  We soon lost it but I had a good idea of where the cliff band was so angled up and left.  It was kind of fun being in the woods with no trail or light but it came to an end quickly as we reached a cliff band with an obvious trail next to it. We followed the trail up which required the odd bit of scrambling before it dumped us on a talus field below the gully.  This part went pretty quickly and we were soon up the gully and, after a bit of bushwhacking through dense trees, were on Thatchtop's endless slopes.  This part was easy but annoying as it required about 1500 vertical up class one and two tundra and talus.  I was feeling okay but Jen was moving very slowly.  By the time we got to the top of Thatchtop it was clear she was not feeling well.  The altitude was bugging her and she had re-injured an ankle that she had turned the week before.  It was too bad because it was as perfect a day as I can remember but there was no way she was going to make the traverse and add many extra miles.  We did however spend a good hour an a half on the summit enjoying the views of the surrounding area.  I pointed out The Petie, Zowie, Sharkstooth, Andrew's Glacier, all the Peaks in Glacier Gorge, Flattop, Hallet's, Lumpy Ridge, Ypsilon, and The Mummy Range to her.  While Thatchtop itself is a boring peak it does offer 3400 vertical in elevation gain, some interesting route finding, and the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It is also the ONLY place I have been able to see the four aces on the Blitzen Ridge.

After a time I accepted that the day was over and we headed down.  Jen expressed an interest to start leading trips so we discussed the logistics of it and she'll pick something for us to do on the 25th of August and take charge of the whole thing.  The hike down went quickly considering Jen's ankle and we found ourselves back home much earlier than expected which definitely made the birds happier.  The main plus of the day was that my knee was fine and my trip to the Tetons was still on.

The Gully That Splits The Cliffs Leading To Thatchtop

Jen, Working Through The Trees Before The Endless Slopes

The Blitzen Ridge On Mt, Ypsilon

Arrowhead & McHenry's Peaks

Going Back Down

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