Ames Ice Hose
WI5 M6 R
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Thin first pitch, spring 2004.
I think this route is a three-star-classic on a worldwide scale.
The Hose may not have a postcard view or alpenglow ambience, but the climbing is spectacular, and there is always plenty of air below your heels. This route is dangerous at the bottom and will humble most any dry-toolin' psychopath, but at the top it gets fat and widens out to a steep slab of blue ice clinging to the black wall.
Approach: 1 hour. Start at the power plant and find a trail which heads towards the lower Ames Falls (don't take the right fork down to the base of the Ames Practice Area and base of Ames Falls), and walk past the top of them to the railroad tracks which run through the canyon. Follow the tracks away from the highway until you are at the bottom of the drainage where the climb forms up on your left. You can see ice from where you need to leave the railroad tracks. Follow the steep gully to the base of the climb.
Pitch 1: 120' WI4+ to M6 VS Yikes. Conditions vary greatly on this pitch and it can be anything from a difficult mixed climb with no pro to a WI 4+ pillar. When I belayed Mike Ivie up this pitch in 2000, it was WI5 with some sections of thin ice and was reasonably well protected, this is not usually the case. If there is no ice or if it is too thin to climb, head up to the right of the ice (or wet spot) and bring some small wires and some huge nuts! There is a bolted anchor at the base of a gully that diagonals up and right. There can be a protected nook from which to belay on the right.
Pitch 2: 200' WI4-5 Head up the gully to the right to a large ice covered ledge below the spectacular upper pitches, and belay from screws on the right side of the ledge. Be very careful not to knock ice on your belayer at the base of the gully!!
Pitch 3: 200' WI 4-4+ *Classic* Follow the best looking line up the massive ice flow in front of you. Save some screws for the top and belay off of a tree on the left hand side of the flow when the ice turns to snow. On a warm day, this pitch can run with water.
Descent: 3 double rope rappels starting from the tree and following the left hand side of the climb. The 2nd rap is off rock slings on the left or V-threads if you have 60m ropes. You may reach a 2 bolt anchor with 70s. The last rap is from the bolts on top of the first pitch. Allegedly, there is a walkoff far left, but it looks arduous.
A few stubbies and a bunch more screws for the upper pitches, small wires and TCUs for the first pitch. Please do not add any bolts to this climb!
In Alpinist 18, p. 20, there is a writeup by Michael Kennedy about the FA.
Zach starting the second pitch.
Pitch 1 was a steep, non-swingin', hookety, shorts...
BETA PHOTO: Ice Hose mid-November '04.
Ames Ice House
Standa at first pitch
Andrzej starting second pitch
Standa on third pitch
BETA PHOTO: Ames Ice Hose in March 2006. The approach took us ...
Final approach. Took us 30 minutes to get from thi...
Guy soloing Ames Ice Hose (1/8/07).
BETA PHOTO: Conditions on 2/17/07 - Check out the party climbi...
Rick Wyatt, first pitch in 1978...note the old scr...
Looking down from top of 2nd pitch.
Flex on pitch 2. March 2008
Photo by Eric Dixon.
BETA PHOTO: First belay station 9 Jan 2010. You can see all th...
From half way up the steep gully (2nd pitch) on Am...
BETA PHOTO: 1st pitch was in.
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the 2nd pitch. We moved up and out ...
BETA PHOTO: Near the base, much of the lower route in the narr...
Eric Lashinsky at the top of pitch 1, Jan 2009.
Looking down pitch 2, halfway to the belay.
Better look at the entire route, Jan. 2009.
|Comments on Ames Ice Hose
From: Arvada, CO
Mar 5, 2013
Hiked up to scope conditions about 9 days ago: No ice on first pitch, the second pitch had large sections of rock with poor looking ice, and there was what looked to be 40 foot section of bare rock from the end of second pitch to start of third pitch. I bet some hardman/woman has done it!!
|By Ben Hoyt|
Jul 23, 2002
The 2nd pitch can be more serious than the 1st, again conditions-dependent. At the end of November 2001, we climbed the M6 variation to the 1st on the right, then about 80 feet of the 2nd pitch. This involved two good pieces of pro, a cam and a 17 cm screw inside of a cave in the back of the gully (offwidth size cave), with no ice and no pro for the next 50 feet. I would have guessed M6+ X. I've also seen pictures where this pitch looks WI4. Awesome route.
Dec 15, 2004
It would be nice not to see any current conditions...(photos) posted about this route as the first and second pitches don't stand up to a lot of ascents thin, patchy, sometimes discontinuous - i.e. normal conditions). After seeing the full on cow trail on the approach and several parties vying for position the other day, it appears that some of the ice park craziness is starting to spread into some of the more quieter ice locales of the San Juans. Nothing wrong with that but...stupid internet....
|By Spanish John|
Jan 31, 2006
It seems some a-hole decided to add a shiny new bolt to the rock start to the first pitch. The bolt was placed right next to a bomber stopper placement. The tool actually had the balls to tie the fixed stopper that was in place to the new bolt. The whole pitch takes good gear wherever you want it, and where the bolt is placed does not really protect the leader from hitting the ledge at the start for very long. I'm all for clipping nice new bolts on mixed routes, but this is a long established route that sees dozens upon dozens of ascents each year. Mugs would be roling over in his grave. It's probably already been chopped.
|By Spanish John|
Feb 2, 2006
Dude who bolted it is Chuck Burr. Lives in T-ride. If anyone has a problem with the bolt, you are ecouraged to call him. A good opinion on this can be found at www.skywardmountaineering.com, Vince calls it like he sees it and hits it on the head. The Hose isn't the ice park and shit.
Oct 23, 2006
I made a solo ascent of this route in February 1997 ('98?), I went up the ice bit at the bottom, so I haven't done the mixed start. This is one of the best "long" routes I have done in CO (along with Bridalveil), a good, steep, relatively remote and serious route. I am not really clear on why this alternate start keeps receiving a new bolt. A friend of mine did this mixed start last season and informed me that the 1st bolt had been chopped. Also, that the dry-tooling was pretty reasonable. Am I missing something here?
|By Jim Amidon|
Oct 23, 2006
This is in the top 5 climbs I've had the pleasure of climbing.
When it's in, "get on it" >>>>
|By phil broscovak|
From: Boo-older, Co.
Oct 29, 2006
Is this new bolt true or is it a troll? Did Chuck Burr go against the opinion of the whole climbing community? What is this guy thinking? Say it ain't so!
|By Trevor Nydam|
Dec 8, 2006
The FA was done in January 1976 by Lou Dawson, Steve Shea, and Michael Kennedy. Volume 18 of Alpinist has a great description written by Mr. Kennedy.
Dec 18, 2006
Pretty drippy 2nd pitch on 12/15 - never seen so much water on this route. Guess all that rainfall in Oct. Should be huge come Feb. Definitely prefer the patchier conditions on this route as it makes for some wild climbin'! Thanks to the person who pulled the bolts, however the holes need to be patched as they are butt ugly. I'll take a hike up there in the spring-summer and do it unless someone beats me to it. Hopefully those feeling the need to bolt this have given up. - Miles Newby
|By Mike Willig|
Feb 19, 2007
Conditions on 2/17/07 are very fat. We climbed it in 2 pitches with 70s. It's a rope stretcher to make it to the belay ledge on the first pitch if done this way. 2 raps from the top (with 70s), and you're back on the ground. Absolutely sweet climb!
|By Christopher Wright|
Feb 10, 2009
Does anyone know what kind of rock the Ice Hose is on? I've not climbed much in the area nor do I know much about geology, and I had no idea what that stuff was. From afar it almost looks granitic, but up close I couldn't have told you if it was quartzite or limestone. Anyone know?
|By Jeff Bevan|
Feb 23, 2009
Although this was my first ascent of this classic I'd say it was very fat. There has been a bit of traffic on it so it shows the wear and tear making it easier than what I am sure it is most winters. Top of the upper slab is where the freshest ice is and consequently the most attention to your feet. The first pitch is fat and cruiser. Must do climb!
|By Christopher Wright|
Feb 25, 2009
Apparently the rock is Rhyolite, which according to Wikipedia "can be considered as the extrusive equivalent to the plutonic granite rock, and consequently, outcroppings of it often bear a resemblance to granite." Good to know.
|By Stuart Paul|
From: Tahoe City, CA
Feb 24, 2010
When you park at the power plant, park all the way on the right in front of the trees and not in front of the buildings.
From: Estes Park, CO
Jan 12, 2012
Good shape all the way, pretty hacked up on pitches 1 & 2 but still good climbing. Definitely a classic. Lots of tat on the anchors, lots of anchors, could probably use a bit of a clean up? Also, we accidentally left a pair of BD Punisher gloves at the very top; set them down next to the tree anchor and then rapped off, totally forgot them. We'd be psyched to get them back. Cheers!
|By Ryan N|
From: Bay Area
Oct 13, 2012
Got dragged up this in January of 2012, and it was in pretty good shape. The first and second pitches remind me more of mixed climbing even though it's ice. The last pitch I tried to lead but bailed. It's freaking entirely vertical for 100+ feet. At the WI4 rating, it's probably true but very intimidating. I would suggest being very comfortable on WI5 lead before you think about taking on this classic.