The next morning I was out the door at 5:30 on my way to the AMR to meet Glen. Took me 15 minutes to clean off my car and the drive in the driving snow was done at 30 mph so I got there 5 mins past our meet-up time. Originally, there were supposed to be 18 people taking aim at Dial-Nippletop-Colvin-Blake but as we trudged our way up Noonmark's shoulder in roaring wind and horizontal snow I said to Glen, “looks like instead of a team of 18 we're down to just the two of us”. As the sunrise came up very, very slowly the scene we beheld increased in intimidating beauty.
When we reached Dial, the snow quit with only 3 inches of fluff over a rock-solid foundation. By the time we reached Nippletop, the sun was coming out and the air became dry and cold. We floated effortlessly and quickly downhill to Elk Pass and then we turned up towards Colvin. A couple of youngsters came down without snowshoes and they had positively trashed a perfect trail. Just below Colvin we found a lone snowshoe precariously balanced and saw a hiking pole below the well-known crack. I put the snowshoe into a more stable place and we chatted briefly with the owner on top. We wondered later if she had had a scary experience at that step.
The out and back to Blake was really easy except the final 200 yards to Blake was an absolute post-hole hell, most likely made the day before in the hot weather. Now the post-holes were frozen solid. I guess some people have never heard of snowshoes.
The re-climb of Colvin was done slowly in full-on afternoon sun and about half-way down the road we put our headlamps on. It had been an easy hike but nevertheless we were tired after the 6500 feet of elevation gain.