Powell Peak

      by Gordon S. Novak Jr.       July 2, 1993

Powell Peak is the last peak that can be reached by hiking south from Flattop; the next one is McHenry's, which is guarded from this direction by McHenry's Notch. Powell isn't much to look at, but it provides spectacular views of many of the premier peaks of the Park. I leave Bear Lake at 08:20 and head toward Flattop. Here the temperature is quite warm. Above timberline I am passed by a young couple wearing shorts, with light fanny packs. They laugh at the heavy pack I am carrying and go bopping up the trail. I reach the Flattop summit at 12:07. On the summit it is cold, with a strong wind. The couple in shorts begin shivering, and they don't stay long. I pull a jacket out of my heavy pack and continue.
At 13:27 I reach the top of the Andrews Glacier, and an hour later I am on the shoulder of Taylor. Just one more mountain to go, but it is a very long way. I must cross a couple of snow fields as well as tundra and sandy boulder fields. At one point, the snow gives way under one foot, and that one leg sinks in the snow up to my crotch and is stuck. I can get the leg out, but my boot is about to pull off. Finally I get both out. I reach the summit of Powell at 17:23. From here, the east ridge of Mt. Alice looks terrible, and snowy too. There are great views of Longs, McHenry's, and Chief's Head.
I leave the summit at 18:03, returning via Flattop at 21:00 (got a bit disoriented around Hallett Peak in the dark -- all flat places look alike) and back to Bear Lake at 22:55. Consumed 3 liters water.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks