This route climbs a prominent couloir system on the northeast face of McHenry's peak. If you're lucky enough to catch the face in good conditions the climbing is reportedly somewhat moderate at M4-. However, conditions I've encountered have been a grade or so harder. The climbing tends to be more of a mixed snow and rock route without much ice. The somewhat remote location, length, and proximity to other routes (for enchaining) make this route an excellent venue for some adventure climbing.
One obvious enchainment option is to climb the West Gully
of Black Lake followed by this route, or another on the same face. Another less obvious option would be to climb the Hourglass Couloir
on Arrowhead. The easterly descent of which would put you right at the base of this face.
Catching this route in perfect conditions may be tough. Both times I've been on the face, late January and early March have yielded tough conditions. However, the route is still very enjoyable when the cards aren't all in your favor.
Start at the base of short slab which forms a weakness in the initial rock band on the north east face.
An alpine rock rack with a few screws, pins, and two specters, the latter being key for the many frozen turf sections.
Eric Harvey polishing his skills, and dulling his ...
Eric Harvey leading the first pitch after Big Mac ...
Chris Sheridan happy to get a good stick in frozen...
Chris Sheridan negotiating the second overhang of ...
Typical mixed rock and grass/moss climbing in the ...
Eric Harvey en route to the Big Mac Couloir on 1/2...
BETA PHOTO: This photo, taken from the Black Lake - West Gully...
Leading pitch 5 through the rock band. This pitch ...
Bailing w/ pride from the P1 variation to Snow Ben...
BETA PHOTO: 25MAY08 Conditions showing ice of Big Mac and rout...
On the approach after soloing West Gully.
From: Dysfunctional, CO
Nov 10, 2007
B. Gillett and C. Burns both call these routes Grade III, but I respectfully disagree. If the Casual Route on The Diamond is Grade IV, and AMU and the NE Face of Notchtop are Grade III, then these routes seem like they should be Grade IV. Mind you, that's Winter routes vs. a Summer route (e.g. apples vs. oranges), but seriously, the McHenry's/Arrowhead Cirque is both Gi-normous and very far away. Expect a ~16 hr day (which can be difficult in the Winter months) or break it up into 2 days.
From: Pinewood Springs
May 26, 2008
Around 2005 time frame we encounter the upper part of the 4th pitch as a detached wall of ice debris, very scary.
If the second pitch has no ice then crossing the large snow band is 80-90m with no rock pro.