Hiked as far as Tin Can Gap on Saturday. I was here last, years ago in late August. I remembered traversing the glacier in the"moat" along the upper edge in relative safety. I had guessed that with the unusually low snowpack this year that the glacier would be in similar condition by now. It wasn't. The "moat" was maybe a foot wide and six or more deep, leaving no option for going forward other than glacier travel. My hiking partner Chris and I were both carrying ice axes. Chris had never used an ice ax before and I was apprehensive on my own part. Our plan had been to traverse the glacier through the "moat" and practice some with the ice ax at the bottom of the snowfeild below the last section of the climbing trail before proceeding. I don't remember that snowfeild seeming very hazardous. After reaching the glacier and trying without success to find a route forward, avoiding serious exposure on the glacier we finally made the decision to turn back and hunker down, perhaps at Goat Flats or Saddle Lake. We were both pretty tired. Each time we stopped, after rest food and water, making it past the meadows on Meadow mt. before sunset seemed more doable and the prospect of swatting flies all night while waiting for sunrise seemed more unattractive. We finally started descending through the forest west of the meadows by headlight in late twilight. Got to the car, exhausted, just before 1:00 AM. There is little doubt in my mind that either the first call not to press on and the later call to do so were both good decisions. After the blisters heal I plan to give it another go. All things considered it's such a spectacular hike I can't stay away.
I was up there on Saturday and must have passed you on my way down. I did not step foot on the glacier at any point. The trail was almost entirely melted out and bypassed any steep snow traverses. There were some boot tracks on the upper glacier visible from Tin Can Gap, but those were old and nobody was actually going that way on Saturday. I wrote a trip report but unfortunately did not get any pictures of the trail above the glacier:
I remember stopping to speak with you on the trail below Tin Can Gap. I was the fellow with the large pack and scraggly beard in a party of two. Your photo of the glacier looking down looks like the patch of snow that we decided not to cross. I did make it to a small chute with a ragged polypropylene hand line going down it. but it didn't look to inviting either. My hat's off to you for making it from the bridge to tin pan gap in less than five hours. I will be back this season.
When I went several years ago the crossing past tin can gap was frozen into solid ice, I had an ice axe and micro spikes, but was not comfortable crossing the maybe 60' of ice, the fallout was maybe 25-30' still..
So I actually dropped down below and scrambled up some large boulders on the other side, it was a bit sketchy, but doable with care. On the way back I went across the top of the moat, which was way easier although it didn't appear to be on the way in. My friend waited at the gap.
-------------- Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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