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Shelf Cirque
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Shelf Cirque Traverse 

Shelf Cirque Traverse 

YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I British: M 1c

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 19475', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I British: M 1c [details]
FA: 
Season: summer-fall
Page Views: 2,301
Submitted By: Bill Duncan on Apr 15, 2011
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The Shelf Cirque Traverse.

Description 

This has 4 summits, excellent exposure, tremendous views, and some climbing. Start at Solitude Lake. Climb Arrowhead. Traverse west on the McHenry's-Arrowhead ridge, and then climb the NE Ridge of McHenry's. Descend from the summit to the NW, then off the west side of the ridge to the upper reaches of the gully behind McHenry's Notch. 1 rap gets you into the gully. Climb Mt. Powell. Descend to the NW until you can drop on to the NE ridge that leads to Thatchtop. This ridge is amazing in its exposure and views of the Cathedral Spires. Continue to the summit of Thatchtop, and then descend back to Solitude Lake, or to the north if you are familiar with the descent for All Mixed Up.

This is an excellent 1-day outing, or bivy at Solitude Lake for a treat.


Protection 

You may want to bring ropes and some webbing for the rap into McHenry's Notch. If you are not comfortable soloing easy fifth class with exposure, then bring a light alpine rack.



Photos of Shelf Cirque Traverse Slideshow Add Photo
Climbing the NE ridge of McHenry's Peak with Arrowhead in the distance.  Black Lake is below.
Climbing the NE ridge of McHenry's Peak with Arrow...
Starting the Powell-Thatchtop ridge traverse, enjoying views of the Cathedral Spires below.  The Sharkstooth, Petit Grepon, and the Saber are easily identified.
Starting the Powell-Thatchtop ridge traverse, enjo...
The sw ridge of Arrowhead.
The sw ridge of Arrowhead.
The ne ridge of McHenry's Peak, as viewed from the summit of Arrowhead.
The ne ridge of McHenry's Peak, as viewed from the...
The ridge between Powell and Thatchtop.  There is excellent exposure on this ridge, and sweeping views of the Cathedral Spires.  (See next photo.)
The ridge between Powell and Thatchtop. There is ...
Most of the traverse is visible.
Most of the traverse is visible.
Comments on Shelf Cirque Traverse Add Comment
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By joe lavelle
Jul 10, 2011

Here's a trip report for any looking for more details.
Solitude Lake Cirque Trip Report

By mark felber
From: Frisco, CO,USA
Aug 23, 2012
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I M 1c

The rangers would prefer that you bivy in the Solitude Lake bivy area, not at Solitude Lake itself. The folks in the backcountry office were a little upset when they read the route description.

The Solitude Lake area is a great place to bivy, but I'm not sure how much you save by doing so. The trail up Shelf Creek has a good number of downed trees on it, and dragging bivy gear through that stretch is a bummer. Once the Bear Lake road construction is finished and the road closures stop, leaving the Glacier Gorge trailhead early enough to hit the trail up Shelf Creek at first light would be a good option.

By Andy Novak
From: Golden, Co
Jul 15, 2013

Not Grade IV.

By kiff
Aug 3, 2013
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I M 1c

This is a great outing, the downclimb to McHenry's notch was not bad at all, just gotta watch out for loose blocks. Crux was undoubtably finding the Solitude Lake trail cutoff in the dark....