Peak(s):  Mt. Alice  -  13,310 feet
Date Posted:  08/21/2014
Date Climbed:   08/16/2014
Author:  ronbco
 loopin on Alice   

Mt Alice Loop

Route: Thunder Lake > Lion Lakes > Hourglass Ridge > Boulder Grand Pass > Thunder Lake

I have a couple of things to add from other excellent trip reports on this route that might help future travelers. Indeed this report can help save you several miles and might keep someone from making a potentially bad error.
This is an awesome mountain and a great loop!

1) Getting a camp site:
RMNP will allow a small party to have a group site only within 5 days of the date. This is understandable but still a bit of a hassle to have an unknown that close to the date you want to camp.

2) Thunder Lake sites.
It's a bit of a bummer that the sites can't even see the lake while the horse corral is closer. But there are nice tent pads.

3) How to save time and miles.
We bushwhacked from Thunder to Lion and saved probably an hour of time and several miles. The unknown was if there would be so much deadfall as to make it exhausting and time consuming. As it turns out it was good. From the camp sites, not the lake itself, we followed our GPS direction toward Lion Lake 1. It was less than a half mile and only took 30 minutes before we saw the lake and could start angling to the upper lake. The alternative on trails would have been about 5 miles and 1.5 hrs. But there are marshy areas, even in late summer, so you likely will get wet boots.

4) Hourglass ridge
Our experience matched the trip reports we read. From the saddle between Chief's Head and Alice, the slope looks so steep as to be dangerous. But when you get at the base of the ridge you will see it is not risky at all. My hiking partner stayed near the ridge line on the west edge, while I tried the open slabs in the middle. Neither route had any significant risk. The rock is stable. Indeed I never even noticed the narrow part of the ridge going up. But it is steep. My GPS had it at 800' vert in .25 mile. But I was so happy that it was not loose that it did not dampen my spirits. It only took 30 min to reach the summit.

5) The false summit of Alice.
I spaced out reading that there was one on the east side of the ridge, so of course I almost went all the way up it which is not necessary. It's not a big deal, but you know, any extra energy spent going up a false summit that you can skip is no fun. I had set my GPS waypoint from a download from a point on a topo map. But of course the accuracy of selecting a precise point from a topo is not that great. This was reinforced with the next point.

6) Boulder Grand Pass is indeed a "pass" not a gully/couloir!
The south side of Alice is wide and flat. But still, from the top it was not clear where the path down was. It is more than a mile from the summit and there are a couple ridges going off the east side (Pilot and Tanima). So we merrily crossed the beautiful tundra and found ourselves at what appeared to be the way down. It was steep and loose with dirt and some rocks. Clearly many had traveled down that way. My hiking partner's GPS waypoint had this as the spot, while mine showed we still needed to proceed .3 mile. Looking up from Thunder Lake in the morning it seemed that the pass had a big snow field on the south side, but there were only rock ribs on the sides of this descent. Still, it looked like some of the pics, so this must be it! It was so loose that I waited for my partner to get down and out of the way before I would start down. After 10 min I heard him call up that it was the wrong route!. Poor guy had to reascend the loose gully 150 ft or so. It had cliffed out and below the cliff was a steep snow field. I suppose this must be a snow route and that is how it gets the erosion so that looks like well used route. Well a bit further down the ridge it became obvious where the actual pass was. Descending the pass was no big deal. I've hiked 60 plus peaks in CO and you would think I would not make this kind of mistake. Doh! A "pass" is the obvious lowest point!

7) Time table for this loop.
Thunder Lake
to Lion Lakes area - 30 min,
to Alice summit via hourglass - 3 hrs,
complete loop back to Thunder Lake - 6 hrs incl 30 min stay on top and 20 min loss for wrong route

Comments or Questions
Useful info...
08/21/2014 19:00
I did a version of the loop in July (as a day---12 hour!---hike), from the Wild Basin trailhead, up via Lion 1/2 and Snowbank lakes, up and over Alice, and down via BGP and out via Thunder Lake. I fully agree with your assessment and suggestions. Yes the hourglass ridge looks intimidating as you approach it, but once you're on the thing it's no big deal other than being really steep. I too almost descended the wrong gully (maybe the same one as you) because I saw a lake at the bottom of the gully that I thought was Lake of Many Winds, but was actually Falcon Lake. Luckily I caught myself after
only about 20 seconds of downclimbing because it dawned on me that I didn't have the right vista of Tanima Peak at the top of the gully.
I also have to add that the correct gully leading down from BGP is the loosest bunch of crap I have ever encountered (but luckily it was over pretty quickly). Live and learn as they say.

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