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A Walk in The Park
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A Walk In The Park 

A Walk In The Park 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ British: MS 4a

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 15', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ British: MS 4a [details]
FA: Renan Ozturk and Sam Piper, early 2000s? Richard Rossiter, 11 August, 2009
New Route: Yes
Season: Late July to early September
Page Views: 3,431
Submitted By: Richard Rossiter on Oct 6, 2009
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BETA PHOTO: USGS Bench Mark, summit of Long's Peak.

Description 

This ultra marathon spans (counter clockwise) the entire rim of Glacier Gorge traversing 8 summits in perhaps 15 miles. The 7 towers along the Keyboard of the Winds are not climbed. Begin at the Glacier Gorge Bus Stop. Take the Glacier Gorge Trail and ascend the Regular Route on Thatchtop. Traverse the summit and gain the Continental Divide via the Northeast Ridge of Powell Peak. Traverse Powell Peak and descend into McHenrys Notch. Climb east out of the notch (5.5, 300 feet) and traverse McHenrys Peak (Northwest Ridge/Stone Man Ridge), Chiefs Head Peak (Northwest Ridge/East Ridge), Pagoda Mountain (Northwest Face/East Ridge), Longs Peak (Southwest Ridge/Keyhole Ridge), Storm Peak and finally Half Mountain. Descend a talus gully on the northwest side of Half Mountain and regain the Glacier Gorge Trail at Mills Lake. Run the final 2.5 miles back to the GG Bus Stop. This is a very long and demanding circuit with various challenges beyond sheer endurance such as the Northeast Ridge of Powell Peak, McHenrys Notch, the Northwest Face of Pagoda Mountain and the south ridge of The Dark Tower. The descent of the Keyhole Ridge is not trivial. Best time to date: 13 hours, R. Rossiter, 11 August 2009. I am just an old guy. Someone younger and faster could probably do this in half the time.


Location 

This spectacular outing follows the complete rim of Glacier Gorge and tops every summit except the towers along the Keyboard of the Winds.


Protection 

Free solo. If you need a rope and a partner, you can forget about it. You don't have time to eat much less belay.



Photos of A Walk In The Park Slideshow Add Photo
A Walk In The Park begins with the Regular Route on Thatchtop Mountain. This view looks down the key second gully (of the Regular Route) to the Loch Vale Trail, whereas one leaves easy hiking behind for a very long ways.
A Walk In The Park begins with the Regular Route o...
Self portrait atop Pagoda Mountain with yet a long row to hoe.
Self portrait atop Pagoda Mountain with yet a long...
This view is to the north from McHenrys Notch. The col between Powell Peak and Point 12836 is in the middle distance.  The Mummy Range is on the horizon.
BETA PHOTO: This view is to the north from McHenrys Notch. The...
Tower Two, Tower One (Keyboard of the Winds) and the Southwest Ridge of Long's Peak as they appear after gaining the crest of the south ridge of the Dark Tower.
BETA PHOTO: Tower Two, Tower One (Keyboard of the Winds) and t...
This is the summit of McHenry's Peak shot across McHenry's Notch from Powell Peak.  Long's Peak is on the left, Chiefs Head Peak  is on the right.
This is the summit of McHenry's Peak shot across M...
This view is to the northwest, looking down  the Keyhole Ridge. Storm Peak and the long north ridge of Longs Peak appear to the right.
This view is to the northwest, looking down the K...
This is the summit of McHenry's Peak, looking ahead to Chiefs Head Peak, Pagoda Mountain and Long's Peak.  Mount Meeker looms in the background to the right of Long's Peak.
BETA PHOTO: This is the summit of McHenry's Peak, looking ahea...
This shot is from the summit of Half Mountain looking  back whence I came up the very long north ridge of Long's Peak. To the right is the Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Mountain and Chiefs Head Peak.  As you can see it is rather late in the day and it is still a long ways back to the car.
BETA PHOTO: This shot is from the summit of Half Mountain look...
Comments on A Walk In The Park Add Comment
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By jhump
Mar 29, 2010

More info about such an undertaking is found here:

www.summitpost.org/trip-report/171551/the-glacier-gorge-trav>>>

So is the "Walk in the Park" different from the "Glacier Gorge Traverse"? If not, then credit goes to this Jim guy. Rossiter's got enough FA's, right?

By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Jun 28, 2010

Nice link up, Richard.
Powell Peak isn't part of Glacier Gorge though.

By Richard Rossiter
Jul 2, 2010

Justin, it requires 4 USGS QUADRANGLES to really see the complete outline or ridge crest surrounding Glacier Gorge: McHenrys Peak, Isolation Peak, Allens Park and Longs Peak Quadrangles. Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak, Otis Peak and Taylor Peak are not part of the rim of Glacier Gorge, nor are Arrowhead and Spearhead.

I did the circuit "A Walk In The Park" counterclockwise, which necessarily includes the following summits: Thatchtop Mountain, Powell Peak, McHenry's Peak, Chief's Head Peak, Pagoda Mountain, Long's Peak, Storm Peak and Half Mountain.

The east face of Powell Peak directly overlooks and drains into Glacier Gorge via Shelf Creek.

This is not meant in the spirit of debate; it is simply the lay of the land.

By J. Thompson
From: denver, co
Jul 6, 2010

Is this not "the great wheel"?

josh

By Richard Rossiter
Jul 9, 2010

A Walk In The Park is indeed The Great Wheel. The difference is that The Great Wheel, published in my 1997 guidebook to RMNP, had been climbed only in pieces. After completing the whole circuit in a single push (2009), I renamed it A Walk In The Park. I don't really care what it is called. It is a fantastic outing by any name.

By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Jul 16, 2010

Fair enough, Richard, we're merely talking semantics here anyways, an amazing day, no matter what specific route you take.

By Stiles
From: the mountains
Dec 26, 2011

Let's see some time posts.

By qGracey
From: Estes Park
Jul 24, 2012

While we didn't do it in half the time, Dr. Thompson Jr. and I climbed this today. 10:14 CTC from Glacier Gorge. Left at 6:45am. Trip report here--- www.lookstandbreathe.blogspot.com!

By Brody Hatch
Sep 9, 2013
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a PG13

Nate Hansen and I did this traverse yesterday (9/8/2013). First off, let me just say that this route is a classic! Neither of us were very familiar with the area/features, so we found the beta to be very lacking and were often spending time trying to figure out where to go. Here is our experience/beta:

We weren't sure if there was an established trail that would get us on our way to the top of Thatchtop peak, so we waited until we got to Mill's Lake and essentially just bushwhacked straight up the mountain until we reached the ridge which was easy to follow to the summit. If there is a better way to get onto the ridge, please post directions.

We didn't know how to descend into the notch, so we guessed and went left (if you face the notch from Powell). Going left is a no no. Every path cliffs out and provides for some scary solo climbing. We scrambled back up and dropped off the right side. There is an easy ramp that takes you right into the notch. Go right! Getting up the other side was easy. There is a 4th/5th class gully to your right that takes you right to the top.

Pagoda Peak was the next problem. When approaching, don't follow the ridge unless you are comfortable soloing very exposed and somewhat sketchy rock. We ended up going left around the initial knife edge ridge to a easy gully that led to the summit.

Our last mistake was truly epic. Upon summiting Half Mountain, the beta was to take the Northwest talus gully, easy. We drop about 1000 feet when we realize that we are completely surrounded by cliffs. There is no way down, so we have to turn around and climb the talus back to the summit! It was miserable. We get to the top and realize that there are multiple talus gullies in that area. There really needs to be a cairn or some indicator for the right gully. Taking the wrong one is very dangerous. Not wanting to make another mistake, we just bailed directly north. It was a gradual descent with boulders, trees, and shrubs. It was really annoying and tedious at times but no talus or cliffs. It puts you on the Long's Peak trail. Just take a left, then a right when you hit the Mill's Lake junction.

Anyway, hope this info helps. All in all, epic day and killer traverse. Definitely a must do.

By Joe Forrester
From: Ft. Collins, CO
Sep 23, 2013

I don't want to step on any toes, but there were a couple Colorado College grads who did the great wheel in the early 2000s in a day, I believe Renan Ozturk and Sam Piper were among them, maybe others. I know a bunch of us did this in segments back then as well. Have no idea about times. -Joe