WI2 Easy Snow
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Ouzel Falls in warmer conditions.
This is a climb that can vary dramatically in its appearance, steepness, and protectability. Apparently, according to a couple guidebooks, this can be a WI3...likely in January or late December? Later in the season, this can probably be a boot only snow slog. So, probably a WI1-3 rating would be most descriptive, but that isn't an option.
The climb gets early sun. The left side of the climb is in the shade at 12pm. The rest of the climb goes into the shade ~215pm.
As with many waterfall ice climbs, this one can form a shell that isn't too thick in places. So a medium screw or forceful swing or kick could penetrate the ice.
Also, there is a photo in Cameron Burns' Colorado Ice Climber's Guide on p. 57 that is fairly representative of what we found today, except there was some exposed ice on the far upper left.
This is in the Wild Basin section along the main trail at the road's end that goes past Hidden Falls, Calypso Cascades, and continues up to Thunder Lake, Lion Lakes, and Mt. Alice.
From the winter parking lot (1.2 miles from the Wild Basin entrance station), walk along the road ~1 mile to the trailhead/warming cabin area. Continue past Copeland Falls (~1.3 miles), past the Pine Ridge campsite, past the turnoff for the Tahosa/Aspen Knoll/Twin Lakes/North St. Vrain campsites (~2.4 miles), past Calypso Cascades (~2.7 miles) which doesn't have climbing, contour WNW to a last few switchbacks on a blunt ridge to the signed "Ouzel Falls" (~3.7 miles). Expect 2-3 hours. It is ~1000' elevation gain.
While often you can find the trail packed by snowshoers and not require flotation, skis can be nice for a quicker exit. Expect 1-1 1/4 hours if you ski out.
Ice screws...if you protect it. You may want a couple 13 cm screws for the upper ice. There are trees for anchors above.
To get off, you can either rappel off trees or walk off to the left.
Jan 9, 2002
Climbed at Ouzel Falls on 1/8/02. The ice is thick and plastic with several mixed variations up either side (still doable by toprope). The route is short, but the long approach is still worth it in my opinion, especially if you value some solitude on your excursion; otherwise take a number (and a good book) while you wait in line at Hidden Falls a couple of miles closer on the same trail.
|By Leo Paik|
From: Westminster, Colorado
Feb 28, 2012
Collecting a few comments on conditions already on MP.com regarding Ouzel Falls:
Per Jim D. on 12/3/02: "We walked up to Ouzel Falls - the short cliffband 100 yards south of the falls that often ices up is bone dry."
Per Joe Keyser on 1/2/02: Ouzel Falls (WI2/3?), which is about 2-3 miles past Hidden Falls is not worth the long walk, but, is a pretty enjoyable hike. It's in the sun all day, and is really short. Better to wait in line at Hidden, or go somewhere else.