Avalanche Lake was, as usual, spectacular. Rising a thousand feet on either side were the flanks of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain. Down below, a solid and secure layer of ice and snow meant we had a nice straightforward walk across the lake awaiting us (rather than the tortuous summer trail along the shore of the lake).
We stopped here for another break and another take-in-the-surroundings moment.
Moving on across the lake, we noted a few parties climbing the Trap Dike (Mount Colden's most popular mountaineering route). Much clearer weather today than when we did it two years ago in February 2008 (click here
to read about that outing).
After crossing Avalanche Lake, we re-entered the trees and followed trail(s) towards Lake Colden and the start of the trail leading up this side of Mount Colden. A person who is now not in my good books somewhat trashed-up a section of the trail to this point with their bare-booting, making it noticeably more uneven and less easy to hike on. Thanks a bunch. Oh, and we've smoothed it back out now, thank you.
Near the base of the trail to the summit, we detoured out onto Lake Colden itself in order to get a good view of the steep, long climb we'd have to make to the rocky summit ridge of Mount Colden, almost 2,000 feet above.
The trail leading to the summit starts just a few feet above the shore of the lake. It climbs moderately steeply at first, then become relentlessly steep for most of the way up. It's a great power workout, made more so today by the warm sun softening up the snow into a clumpy, wet state that stuck to our snowshoes.
Andy wanted some intense cross-training, so we placed him at the head of the line and let him disappear into the heights. For the rest of us we initiated the standard "quarter-k" rule of breaking every 250 feet of elevation gain. With the relatively warm temps, no wind, and direct facing towards the sun, our climb was h-o-t and s-w-e-a-t-y.