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Glacier Gorge

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

Glacier Gorge  


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Location: 40.26546, -105.64157 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 182,182
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Malcolm Daly on Nov 30, 1999
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Description 

Glacier Gorge is a six-mile-long gorge the starts near Bear Lake and heads down to the back side of Long's Peak. It's surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery, cleanest rock and the longest ice routes in the park. Glacier Gorge hosts a bevy of top-notch, serious, ice climbs. The routes are strewn across the northeast facing slopes of Thatchtop, the North side of Arrowhead and in the cirque surrounding Black Lake. The area is scenic and fairly remote although you are likely to run into another party on the popular routes on weekends. All of these routes should be viewed as mountaineering routes involving technical pure water ice pitches combined with long, approaches and technical descents including steep snow, loose rock, and high altitude. Protection can be scarce and/or difficult to find, and changing conditions can make a moderate full-day climb into a strenuous, post-holing, struggle. With the abbreviated winter daylight hours, be sure to start this route early, bring a headlamp and be prepared to use it. The approaches to these climbs take 2-3 hrs under good conditions and considerably longer in deep snow etc. I have made the approach from the parking lot to the base of All Mixed Up in less than 1 hour; and I have had it take 2 hours just to get the few hundred yards from Mill's Lake to the base of the route! The Black Lake cirque is a far enough trudge that most consider this a winter camping type destination.

Getting There 

From Estes Park, take US 36 to the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. A quarter of a mile past the station, Turn left onto Bear Lake Rd, in the direction of Bear Lake. Follow this road approx. 8.5 miles to the well-marked Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking area (approx. mile before you reach Bear Lake). Park there and hike the Glacier Gorge Trail to Mills Lake, approx 3 miles. Snowshoes are a good idea in fresh snow, but the trail is usually well-packed within a matter of days. (Here's a great shortcut that will save you 30 minutes: Head right immediately after you cross the second overbuilt bridge-the ones with the handrails. Follow the drainage up until you intersect the GG trail about 100 yards from the GG/Loch junction. Summer climber's note: This is not the summer shortcut which parallels the drainage on the left. The winter route follows the creek bed and is quite skiiable.) Right before you get to Mills Lake you'll have to make a decision: left takes you into Glacier Gorge, Thachtop and the climbs at Black Lake; right takes you to the Loch.

Climbing Season



Weather station 7.3 miles from here

19 Total Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',5],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',2],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',1],['5.10',0],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Glacier Gorge:
The Trough   Mod. Snow     Snow, Alpine, 2200'   
Black Lake Slabs   WI2-3     Trad, Ice, Alpine   
Deborah   M3-4 Mod. Snow     Trad, Mixed, Snow, Alpine, 5 pitches, 1000'   
Stoneman   WI4+ PG13     Ice, Alpine, 1 pitch, 150'   
Black Lake - West Gully   WI4     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 5 pitches   
The Hourglass Couloir   M4 Mod. Snow     Mixed, Snow, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1200'   
All Mixed Up   WI4 R     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 4 pitches, 550'   
Right Gully   WI4 M4 A1 Mod. Snow     Trad, Aid, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 7 pitches, 1000'   
Browse More Classics in Glacier Gorge

Featured Route For Glacier Gorge
Conditions on 11-4-01

All Mixed Up WI4 R  CO : CO Ice & Mixed : ... : Glacier Gorge
This is one of the most famous ice routes in the park, an excellent moderate multi-pitch route in an alpine setting. The route follows the large, obvious flow directly above the bowl on NE face of Thatchtop, ascending four pitches of mostly thin water ice. Despite the name, under normal conditions there is actually very little mixed climbing involved although some mixed protection placements may be necessary if the ice is in thin condition. The flow is fairly wide with infinite route possibilit...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Glacier Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Panoramic shot from Black Lake showing West Gully at the center.
Panoramic shot from Black Lake showing West Gully ...
Panoramic shot from Mills Lake showing All Mixed Up on the right
Panoramic shot from Mills Lake showing All Mixed U...
Photo taken at Mill's Lake 12/2/2011.
Photo taken at Mill's Lake 12/2/2011.
Calm before the storm, 12/2/2011.
Calm before the storm, 12/2/2011.
Other ice in Glacier Gorge.  November 24, 2007. <br /> <br />Picture by Christopher Perkins
BETA PHOTO: Other ice in Glacier Gorge. November 24, 2007.

P...
AMU, pretty dry on 1/2/10.
BETA PHOTO: AMU, pretty dry on 1/2/10.
Looking towards the alpine peaks at the end of Glacier Gorge.
Looking towards the alpine peaks at the end of Gla...

Comments on Glacier Gorge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 13, 2005
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 4, 2002
Black Lake is in great condition. Very fat and the ice is great. West [Gully] looked good too, but a bit avalanchy at the bottom. If you climb the gully please post a report.
By David Neckels
Apr 15, 2002
Not really ice, more snow, but: Got a pretty good view of the upper trough on Longs this weekend. It looks horrible. Forget trying to climb it this spring. It looked like there were spots where the snow was probably not more than 20 feet wide. It will be gone by the end of the month. Last year in late May the snow was 100 yards across at least.
By Anonymous Coward
Oct 26, 2002
Wondering if anyone might know what winter ascents (or in say Nov) of McHenry's are like? Ice in the gullies or chocked with snow and avy prone? Thanks.
By Jim D.
Jun 22, 2003
We went up to climb Spearhead - the rock was cold, but the climb was great. For the approach we used snowshoes for the last 2 miles and it seemed to help, though others got through okay without them. Check out the swath of avalanche busted trees below Black Lake! If you ever want to do a snow route in the area (ex: the Trough), now may be the time as conditions look great - dense snow in all the gullies. Beware the mid-day slush though as we heard a big wet slide come off the east side of McHenrys around noon.

We went up to climb Spearhead - we used snowshoes for the last 2 miles and it seemed to help, though others got through okay without them. Check out the swath of avalanche busted trees below Black Lake! If you ever want to do a snow route in the area (ex: the Trough), now may be the time as conditions look great - dense snow in all the gullies. Beware the mid-day slush as we heard a big wet slide come off the east side of McHenrys around noon.
By Colin Coulson
Sep 14, 2003
It was COLD this weekend up high in Glacier Gorge. Ice is starting to come in. Thin, but it is coming none the less. If conditions keep staying cold (i.e. freezing hard at night with a little sun during the day) count on an early start up around Black Lake and around McHenry's and Pagoda. Keep an eye on it and get your tools ready!
By Jim Amidon
Nov 5, 2003
Hiked to the far side of the Loch today, high winds and blowing snow, typical November conditions, but NO ICE ANYWHERE, no Necrophilia, Crypt, Deep Freeze, and no ice in the Practice area. Winter is around the corner, nice day for a hike but leave the tools at home for a couple more weeks.....
By Shane DeMars
From: Boulder, Colorado
Dec 1, 2003
Got back to Black Lake on the 28th. Slabs look fine if thats your thing. The West Gully is in WI3 shape (harder for a few feet if you attempt the strange overhanging wind formations). Fat down below thinner on the upper half (still very doable). Stone Man was still a bit iffy though. Pillars are there but looked quite wet and unstable. A couple of more weeks will hopefully fim them up.
By Anonymous Coward
Jun 13, 2005
Was up near Black Lake yesterday, got a glimpse of the Hourglass Couloir on Arrowhead (N. Face?) Looks fat and beautiful!! Has anyone been up there this year? Unbelievable face, probably won't last long if things heat up too much this week.