Hallett Peak smacks you right in the face every time you drive up Bear Lake Road to the Bear Lake/Glacier Gorge area.
Rising above the area like the Rock of Gibraltar, I would guess that it is the second most recognizable landmark after Longs Peak.
I’ve taken so many photos of it over the years, after our snowshoe last weekend I decided I was finally going to bag it this week.
The normal way is to head up the Flattop Mountain trail, head south along the Continental Divide for a bit to hit the peak, then return along the same route.
I wanted to hit Otis Peak as well and knock off 3 12k peaks in one shot, and descending the Andrews Glacier seems like a good way to make a loop trip and see as much as possible.
Andrews Glacier is the only good descent route along the Continental Divide this time of year, the Tyndall Glacier would be another option later in the season.
The Bear Lake parking area is a crowded nuthouse in peak season, not so much at sunrise midweek in the winter. I was lucky enough to catch the sun rising on Hallett Peak, and took a break for a couple minutes sitting on the ice on Bear Lake to watch the shadows fall away.

The Objective

The Objective
Hallett Peak sits front and center as I stop at Bear Lake for sunrise.


Lots and lots of snow – and lots and lots of huffing and puffing from my lack of acclimatization from being at sea level for so long.


Finally Snow

Hallett Peak - Finally Snow
It feels good to get back into the snow after a while at sea level. You can knock some time and distance off by climbing directly up instead of taking the usual switchbacks.


Bad Weather

Bad Weather
There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!


Terrain

Terrain
I love this blue white and brown.


Crunch Crunch

Crunch Crunch
The crazy wind up here has blasted cool designs into the hard crunchy snow.


Flattop earns its name, as you crest a ridge and you have nothing but rocks, snow and ice stretching out in front of you. It makes a great spot for 360 photos and video though as you can see out in all directions.


Which Way

Which Way to Hallett Peak
The umm flat top of Flattop mountain, on the way to Hallett Peak.


Tyndall Glacier

Hallett Peak - Tyndall Glacier
The first of today’s warning signs.


The climb up to Hallett and Otis are both relatively unspectacular, except for the steep drops on your left the entire time. You can feel your heart quicken just peering over the edges.


Chaos Canyon

Chaos Canyon
Makes you wonder how it got its name.


Now I See

Now I See
… How Chaos Canyon got its name.


I planned ahead for the descent down Andrews Glacier and brought a contractor garbage bag to help glissade (sledding for grownups) down. Punch holes for your legs and wear it like a diaper, and the slickness of the bag helps you slide while protecting your expensive hardshell pants from wear from the hard ice crystals. Use your ice axe for a brake and make sure you don’t catch a heel or you could break an ankle. Here’s a glissade video from La Plata Peak in 2019 to experience the fun.


Andrews Glacier

Andrews Glacier
Here is the route down, best avoided without experience and proper gear.


Deep Blue

Hallett Peak - Deep Blue
The glacial ice at Andrews Tarn is so amazing!


Blue and White

Blue and White
Beautiful Glacier Blue. The snow at the base of the glacier at the rocks is about 15 feet deep. You can see the tracks from my descent up the center of the photo.


Getting down the glacier itself isn’t too bad, and you stop at the beautiful glacial blue Andrews Tarn before descending down into Andrews Basin. The headwall below the tarn was pretty sketchy and I had to keep to the center spine to avoid triggering an avalanche. Once into the basin, out come the snowshoes again as the snow is crazy deep and nobody else has been up here.


Andrews Basin

Andrews Basin
Coming down the headwall from Andrews Tarn is no joke, I was concerned about triggering an avalanche so I stuck to the diamond of rock in the center. Plenty of deep snow in the basin.


Now it’s just a long slog back to the car, and after 9 hours and 40 minutes, 10.6 miles, 4,478 feet of elevation gain, and 4,500 calories I’m ready for a nice cold Colorado beer and the hot tub.


The Loch

The Loch
Headed back down across the Loch, the weather has cleared up and it’s a perfect Colorado day.


Flattop Hallett Otis Loop Google Earth

Flattop Hallett Otis Loop Google Earth
Google Earth visual of the Flattop Hallett Otis loop.