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An aesthetic, fun, moderate outing that is well worth doing. A classic for this grade.
This is the obvious large ice flow on the large NE face of Saddle Mtn across the valley from Treasure Falls. The climb begins at the top of the large, debris cone and ends 1/2 way up the wall.
Expect 2.5 pitches of mostly WI3+ climbing with a WI4 step down low. The initial 15-20 feet might be scrappy as this gets early and direct sun hit.
Rap in 2 double 60m raps with v-threads and don't expect to find any in-situ rap stations as this climb is rarely done due to the long approach.
NOTE: I'd recommend only doing this route in a low snow year as the approach could become a real slog. More importantly, the final approach and actual route are threatend by slopes that do slide. There would be no timely rescue here. You can see the road but you are on your own.
Get a topographic map (Saddle Mountain Quad) and compass. Know how to use them. Recommend snow shoes for the approach. Skis would be unwieldy.
Take the West Fork of the San Juan turn just below Treasure Falls. After snow begins accumulating the road is closed 1/2 mile in. All guides for the area recommend continuing on to the vicinity of the end of the road and angling up and left (SW) towards the climb. This approach takes about 4-5 hours depending on snow conditions.
There is a more direct approach if the river is frozen which takes 2-3 hrs depending on conditions. Hike/drive in to the end of the large tract of private land (Bootjack Ranch). There is a 90 degree turn to the right in the road and a gate across an access road on to the ranch. Skirt the West running fence line across the river and to the corner in the woods beyond. DO NOT TRESSPASS! The ranch takes unkindly to such activity and will prosecute from what I've heard. Continue generally due West ascending a moderate slope until you get close to where the terrain steepens. Find the creek draining the Hatcher Lakes and ascend the break in terrain to its right until you reach the bench with the lakes. It is pretty obvious how to complete the approach from here.
Screws. The wall around it is vertical dirt, so don't bother dragging in rock gear. Bring a head lamp just in case ;-)
Jul 18, 2011
This climb can also be done to the top of the wall. Pretty much a steep slog from top of ice but completes the route in true fashion. Descend along north ridge then east down to river. Quality.