I thought I was done with alpine starts for the year. I was up at 1:30 and picked Scott up shortly after 2:00. We drove to the Glacier Gorge trailhead and met up with the rest of the group. I had hiked with Jamie P. and Brian before, but Scott, Andy and Jamie N. were new to me. Our goal was to climb Taylor Glacier above Sky Pond. We left the trailhead shortly before 5:00 and made descent time. The weather was warm overnight and the hiking was enjoyable. After reaching Sky Pond, we scrambled to the right of the lake to the base of a narrow snow finger that would eventually lead us to Taylor Glacier.
We geared up here and began the snow climbing portion of the day. Everyone found their rhythm and methodically worked up the glacier. The slope starts out relatively easy and gradually steepens the higher you climb. The middle of the route is moderate, and I would consider the finish to be very steep. Snow conditions were nearly perfect as the snow was soft enough to kick good steps, but firm enough so the steps would not blow out. As we neared the top of the climb, Brian decided to veer north and climb the right branch of the glacier, while the rest of us proceeded up the standard direct finish. It took 4 hours and 10 minutes to top out.
We congregated at the top of the glacier on the continental divide and enjoyed the weather for quite some time. Everyone ate and drank contemplating what to do next. I had originally considered hiking to Powell Peak, Taylor Peak, and Otis Peak, but bailed and only climbed Taylor Peak in order to get Scott and myself home faster. We all took a summit photo on the top of Taylor Peak and then Scott and I took off to the north for Andrews Glacier. At the top of the glacier, we put our helmets back on and grabbed our axes for a quick glissade down to Andrews Tarn. We quickly geared down, had a drink, and then proceeded down Andrews Creek. To my surprise, there is a well established trail from Andrews Glacier back to Glacier Gorge trail. We returned to the trailhead at 1:20 for a round trip time of 8 hours and 30 minutes.