Fall is quickly approaching! We traveled up to RMNP for what was originally planned to be an ambitious day, the Lake Solitude Cirque traverse. Beginning from Bear Lake, we hiked our way up to to Black Lake and enjoyed the surrounding views of Chiefs Head Peak (13,579'), The Spearhead (12,575'), Powell Peak (13,208'), McHenrys Peak (13,327'), and The Arrowhead (12,387'). We could view snow on the northern aspects of the peaks and began to question our ability to complete the planned traverse, but continued up to The Arrowhead. Ascending a few slabs and cracks brought us to the the windy summit, where we had a spectacular view of Longs, Pagoda, and The Spearhead to the east.
A party of two was a ahead of us and we monitored their progress while traversing to McHenrys. The edge of the ridge line provided dramatic views as flakes of rocks appeared primed to fall into the valley below. A few climbing parties ascended the direct face to the ridge line as we contemplated our direction for the remainder of the day. We approached the shadow side of McHenrys and encountered ice over over most of rocks. With no traction we would have made little progress to the summit and we also noticed that the group ahead of us stopped advancing. After some time, one progressed to the top while the other down climbed. Splitting up is rarely the best decision a group can make, so we monitored their positions until they were no longer at risk. After we stopped worrying about their safety, we began to contemplate our best descent option. We could have returned the way we came, but decided to find a route down to Lake Solitude. Sure enough, after some route finding, we descended via a series of ledges and ramps and reached Solitude and Shelf Lakes. Only the hike out remained with the turning aspens reminding us that fall has arrived.