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Glacier Gorge
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All Mixed Up T 
Aquavelva - aka Headdress - aka Chickens on Ice? T 
Big Mac Couloir 
Black Lake - West Gully T 
Black Lake Slabs T 
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Deborah T 
Duncan's Dinky Drip T 
Hourglass Couloir, The 
Main Squeeze T 
McHenry's Notch Couloir 
Middle Finger of Dr. Wazz, The T 
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Snow Bench (McHenry's Peak) 
Stoneman 
Trough, The 
Yellow Tears 

Black Lake - West Gully 

WI4

   
Type:  Trad, Ice, Alpine, 5 pitches, Grade III
Consensus: WI3-4 [details]
FA: Unknown
Season: Oct-Apr
Page Views: 10,310
Submitted By: George Bell on Nov 6, 2001

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Richard Rossiter starting the first pitch of the W...

Description 

This is one of my favorite ice climbs in RMNP, and I've done it several times. The approach is long and skis are recommended for a fast exit (provided there is enough snow and you are a decent skier, it's possible to go from Black Lake to the car in less than an hour).

This is the easiest-looking and farthest left ice climb you can see from Black Lake. It is on the east-facing wall between Black Lake and Stoneman Pass. It starts as a big, low-angle slab of ice and runs over steeper cliffs lower down. This route always seems to come in early and fat. Pick a sunny day with little wind and you will have a great day.

The first pitch is moderate, leading toward the steep second pitch.
The second pitch is the crux. This climb often forms very wide with a lot of options. Generally the farther right you are, the easier it is.

You can stop after the second pitch, traversing right to a bowl and then down (prone to slab avalanches), or continue wandering up 1 or 2 more easy pitches on easy, lower-angled ice.

The fastest descent is to the north, traversing into a steep bowl below Arrowhead Peak. However, this slope is dangerous during high avalanche conditions, beware! A much longer but safer descent is to traverse south to the flat area below Spearhead and come down to Black Lake in the same place as the summer trail.

Protection 

Ice screws only!

Toprope Protection 

Not convenient to TR.


Photos of Black Lake - West Gully Slideshow Add Photo
The slopes leading up to W. Gully often are loaded with avi danger.  Hug the side to avoid trouble!  Going far climbers' right from the top would be the most dangerous descent option due to avi conditions.
BETA PHOTO: The slopes leading up to W. Gully often are loaded...
West Gully on 01/08/11.
BETA PHOTO: West Gully on 01/08/11.
close up of West Gully
BETA PHOTO: close up of West Gully
BETA PHOTO:
Lisa Foster approaching the first pitch.
Lisa Foster approaching the first pitch.
Nice shot of McHenry's in '04.  For those in need of a long day, shoot up the West Gully and top out on McHenry's.
Nice shot of McHenry's in '04. For those in need ...
West Gully on November 16th, 2008.
BETA PHOTO: West Gully on November 16th, 2008.
Black Lake Gully. Well in November 25, 2007.  Ice to the right also touching down.  Picture by Christopher Perkins.
BETA PHOTO: Black Lake Gully. Well in November 25, 2007. Ice ...
Looking down pitch one.  <br />
Looking down pitch one.
Dan follows the enduro-slabs at the top of West Gully, November 16th, 2008.
Dan follows the enduro-slabs at the top of West Gu...
Paul Crowder coming over the crux on P1.
Paul Crowder coming over the crux on P1.
West Gully on 12/24/03.
West Gully on 12/24/03.
West Gully shot
West Gully shot
West Gully and McHenry's taken on Feb 25, 2006
West Gully and McHenry's taken on Feb 25, 2006
Starting the third pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Starting the third pitch.
Better photo of ice conditions on west side of Black Lake, RMNP, Dec 4, 2004
Better photo of ice conditions on west side of Bla...
Breaking trail all day.  Beautiful.
BETA PHOTO: Breaking trail all day. Beautiful.
Black Lake-condtiions 1/26/05
Black Lake-condtiions 1/26/05
First two pitches of Black Lake's West Gully.    <br /> <br />Picture by Kevin Cahill
BETA PHOTO: First two pitches of Black Lake's West Gully. ...
Ice conditions on west side of Black Lake, RMNP, Dec 4, 2004
Ice conditions on west side of Black Lake, RMNP, D...
First pitches of West Gully, November 16th, 2008.
BETA PHOTO: First pitches of West Gully, November 16th, 2008.
West Gully conditions 2/12/06.
BETA PHOTO: West Gully conditions 2/12/06.
Black Lake's West Gully on December 2, 2008.  (Very good conditions.)
BETA PHOTO: Black Lake's West Gully on December 2, 2008. (Ver...
West side of Longs showing Trough Couloir conditions.
BETA PHOTO: West side of Longs showing Trough Couloir conditio...

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Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Black Lake - West Gully Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 6, 2013
By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 16, 2001

The West Gully is looking really fat. Too bad the winds were to high to enjoy it. Black Lake slabs look fat as well.
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 4, 2002

Was up over the weekend. West gully looks good, a bit avalanchy at the bottom. Slabs are fat and fine. In great condition. Enjoy
By CrackBoy
Feb 23, 2002

That "anonymous coward" Paul and I did a recon mission up to Glacier Gorge for some WI3 at altitude (Black Lake Ice) on 02/22/02. The main trail and short cut slog did not require snow shoes or skis, but expect a bit of post-holing to the base of the climbs (but nothing too bad). West Gully, All Mixed Up, and Pipe Organ are in and look absolutely tasty! Nothing harder than WI2 on Black Lake Ice though (BOOOOOO!!!). Did I mention that West Gully, All Mixed Up, and Pipe Organ are in and look absolutely tasty???
By Todd Ringler
Feb 26, 2002

Climbed the West Gully on 02/23. It was a surprisingly nice day up there...little wind, some sun, and relatively warm temps. The climbing was fun, lots of WI2 w/ some WI3+. We did the standard descent by circling around climber's right back to the base. The snow slopes had us really thinking. We had beacons on, but it is a long and rocky ride to bottom...

The trail was packed, but we skied anyway. Made getting out quick and fun. If you are w/o floation, expect postholing from the lake to the base.

To us, All Mixed Up looked to be in thin shape (especially relative to when we did in Dec)....the West Gully is definitely fatter than AMU.
By Todd Ringler
Feb 27, 2002

We climbed the West Gully on 02/23. It was a surprisingly nice day up there...little wind, some sun, and relatively warm temps. the climbing was fun, lots of WI2 w/ some WI3+. We did the standard descent by circling around climber's right back to the base. The snow slopes had us really thinking. We had beacons on, but it is a long and rocky ride to bottom...

The trail was packed, but we skied anyway. made getting out quick and fun. If you are w/o floation, expect postholing from the lake to the base.

To us, All Mixed Up looked to be in thin shape (especially relative to when we did in Dec)....the West Gully is definitely fatter than AMU.
By dave elphingstone
Mar 18, 2002

West Gully is looking really nice. We were at Black Lake 3/17 and it looks as though the crux of the route is the snow fan at the base. If the crux is WI4 it's super short. The slabs at the top are blue and sweet looking. There are some crazy bulges for the Black Lake slabs. The trail is packed out all the way to Black Lake.
By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 31, 2002

The West Gully is in fine shape. Fat blue plastic is all you will encounter. Black Lake Slabs are still in fine shape as well. No snowshoes or skis are needed, but the snow does get soft in the late afternoon.
By Todd Kube
Dec 20, 2002

Climbed the West Gully 12/14. Ice is in good condition with the right hand curtain nicely formed. Lots of ice in the general area. The North walk-off has lots of wind loaded slab, be careful. The approach snow coverage is thin for skiis and skiis/snowshoes aren't needed until after Mill's Lake.
By shad O'Neel
Jan 13, 2003

The main gully is in better than it was last [March. It] has a small step about half way up for 20-25 feet of steep climbing, close to vertical. It's in about WI3 shape. There is a nice steep line formed nicely to the climbers right of the gully. Looks to be a nice grade 4 line. [All Mixed Up] looked thin with some rock scrambling involved. In general there is way more ice than last year in [Glacier Gorge].
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 13, 2003

There was some confusion in my mind between this route and "Stoneman". In Neil Kauffman's photo, "Stoneman" is the right-hand flow, which runs more over a face than a gully. I have adjusted this route description to remove any ambiguity.
By Neil Kauffman
Dec 25, 2003

Was up by Black Lake on Wednesday December 24th of 2003. West Gully is in but has considerable debris at the base possibly from recent avalanche. See picture.
By Will Butler
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 29, 2004

I climbed this route on Saturday. The ice was in fat on the west gully and all throughout the Black Lake area. Avalanche danger was a major threat however on the descent so be careful. Incredible route. -Will Butler
By Anonymous Coward
Dec 2, 2004

Gorgeous route. Ice is fat as of Thanksgiving 04'. Beware on the descent. We finished the climb and traversed right (when looking at the climb from Black Lake) over snow-covered, rock slabs. Bad idea, we came within 5 ft. of a moderate slab avalanche. I would recommend the longer, safer descent.
By jack roberts
Nov 18, 2008

Went up again to All-Mixed-Up today (Nov. 18) and BOY! has it changed up there in the past two days. Lots of melting and not much freezing. A lot of the ice that was there a week ago has disappeared and not even left a wet spot it is so warm.

AMU itself is still standing but just barely. If you go up, take more rock gear than usual. We got in a few good screws but the ice on the overlaps is just about history. The approach is easier as a result of all the melting.
By jjjust
Dec 6, 2013