The forecast for Sunday was bad, but Scott and I wanted to get a few miles in and decided to head back to Rocky Mountain National Park. We left the Glacier Gorge Trailhead at 4:30 and made quick work of the hike to to the base of the Flour Power Couloir on the south side of Otis Peak. We had been rained and snowed on for much of the hike in but were still in good spirits as we geared up on the apron of the couloir. Given the warm temperatures over the past two weeks, we anticipated some rock steps and melted out sections of the couloir, but decided to attempt it regardless.
Entering the couloir required a couple of careful moves on a weak snow bridge and loose rock. After about 100', we found good consolidated snow and were able to kick steps up the narrowing couloir. The route was fun and memorable as the couloir is very inset with high walls on either sides. We snow climbed for a while and reached our first crux of the day. We moved to the right and used both rock and ice to surmount a short step about one-third of the way up the route. We were on good snow again for a short time before we had two more melted out, loose, class 3 rock steps to overcome similar to the entrance of the couloir. Another section of snow climbing led us to our second crux which was an overhanging rock step with few holds. We abandoned all style at this point. Scott found a bomber tool placement and did a butt smear/shimmy to gain easier ground. I followed him up the rock using the same technique. Fortunately, there was only about 200' of steep snow-climbing before we topped out on the couloir close to the summit of Otis Peak.
Despite the overcast and snowy skies, we traversed over to Hallett Peak and then down to Flattop Mountain before heading down the Flattop Trail and back to the Glacier Gorge trailhead past Bear Lake. It was a great route that we both enjoyed. Two weeks ago it would have likely been a total steep snow climb. We had lunch at Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colorado, after returning to the trailhead at 12:45.