|Black Canyon National Park (Ice)
Shadowfax is a tucked away, two pitch ice climb located off the East Portal Road (about 5 miles or so up canyon from Gandalf's Beard) Although you don't have the incredible views of North Chasm Wall like on Gandalf's Beard, the area has a wild feel and great views down-canyon. The climb itself is about the same length as Gandalf's Beard, with a shorter approach. On a clear day, it's a 30 minute bike ride on the plowed road to where you enter the drainage.
Mid January is likely the best time to start climbing this route. December could offer a more challenging and mixed climbing experience, since the route itself follows a dogleg chimney with iced up slabs below. For this reason, the route could vary between WI3 - WI4 with potential for a fairly stout mixed rating in December.
From the top of the ice climb, at the end of of the stream bed, down-climb or do a short rap over a 20 foot section of WI2 to reach a webbing rap station around a pine tree. Double-rope rapple down the iced up chimney and over a steep curtain to a pine tree with slings below (close to 200 feet) From here, rappel about 100 feet to the base of the climb.
Pitch 1 (WI3+) - climb the iced up slabs to the steep curtain above. Either belay back at the tree you rapped from, or continue over the steep section to belay on screws in the alcove above.
Pitch 2 (WI3+) - Either start by climbing the steep curtain or continue up the iced up gully/chimney as it turns to the right and heads back up towards the tree from which you first rappelled.
This route is located at the bottom of the massive drainage descending towards the canyon on the left side of the East Portal Road. To access the route, park at the closed gate at the beginning of the East Portal Road (your immediate right after entering the National Park) Remember to go to the visitor center and fill out a free permit prior to climbing. This will explain the presence of your vehicle at the gate.
Although the East Portal Road is closed to public traffic, it remains plowed all the way to the river because of the Crystal Dam. The best way to approach the climb, if there has not been any recent snowfall, is to ride a bike for the 2.5 mile approach. When parking at the East Portal Road remember not to block the gate.
The approach to the top of the ice will take about an hour if you rode a bike, and about two hours if you walked the road. Follow the road for the entire 2.5 miles before dropping into the drainage, thus avoiding all private property.
About a mile up the road there is a private residence on the left. Further up the road is a large BOR warehouse on the right. The road will began to curve around to the left, contouring the large drainage on the left side of the road. Continue down the road to a gate, which may or may not be open. 200 yards past this gate is a large, snow-covered open area on the left side of the road. This pull out is across from a road grade sign stating "use low gear"
From here, it's about 1/4 mile to the top of the ice climb, located in the drainage below. Walk towards the oak brush thickets ahead (entering further away than closer) Bushwhack for about 5 minutes or so until it starts to thin out a bit and you realize that you're on a ridge, heading into the drainage on your left. Do not get suckered into the gully on your right and stay left of all the pine trees. Follow this ridge, down the hill into the drainage/stream bed below. Once you're in the stream bed, follow it to the top of the ice.
A selection of screws, including a couple stubbies and perhaps some rock pro if it is early season.
The first pitch of the route.
BETA PHOTO: This shows the location of the ice climb.
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Jan 24, 2011
Nice to see folks out exploring for cool new stuff like this.
|By Jeremy Werlin|
Feb 14, 2011
Was just on this climb yesterday (2/13/11) and it is still in good condition. A fun little adventure in a very cool setting.