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Routes in Spearhead

Age Axe T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
All Two Obvious T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Barb, The T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
East Prow T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
North Ridge T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Obviously Four Believers T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Prowess T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13
Spear Me the Details T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Spearhead, Chiefshead, Pagoda, Long's Traverse T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Stone Monkey T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Syke's Sickle T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Ten Essentials, The T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Three Stoners T 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13
Elevation: 12,575 ft
GPS: 40.257, -105.638 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 107,078 total · 514/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Dec 31, 2000 with updates
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac


A beautiful, white NE facing wall which starts as a slab and steadily rises to vertical, Spearhead is surrounded and dwarfed by taller mountains in the center of the Glacier Gorge Cirque-- one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Expect clean, sharp flakes and cracks. Syke's Sickle is possibly the best 5.9 in the Park (and the Sickle itself, a huge dihedral/roof on the upper part of the face, is a good route-finding landmark), the North Ridge is a classic mountaineering route, and there are numerous excellent climbs in the 5.10-5.12 range.

Descent: from the (very worthwhile) summit, or from routes that end west of it, descend third class to the SW, down scree and slabs, taking care to go far enough left so as not to be cliffed. Some routes on the left half of the face end on a ledge which provides access to a fourth class descent on the mountain's east flank (I've never done this, so I won't pretend to give the beta--look for it in the route descriptions).
Seasonal Closures Details

Getting There

Park at the Glacier Gorger Junction trailhead (a mile below Bear Lake), and follow signs to cliff-ringed Black Lake at 5 miles. Head east above the Lake on a faint trail until you reach tree-line, then cut back south to the base of the now-obvious cliff across slabs and meadows.

13 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Spearhead

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
North Ridge
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Syke's Sickle
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
East Prow
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Age Axe
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
The Barb
Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Obviously Four Believers
Trad, Alpine
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13
Three Stoners
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Spear Me the Details
Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Stone Monkey
Trad, Alpine
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
All Two Obvious
Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
North Ridge 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Syke's Sickle 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
East Prow 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Age Axe 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
The Barb 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
Obviously Four Believers 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Alpine
Three Stoners 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13 Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Spear Me the Details 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
Stone Monkey 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad, Alpine
All Two Obvious 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Spearhead »

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Rick Casey
Lafayette, Colorado
Rick Casey   Lafayette, Colorado
Is there not a rappel route down the east face now?

Last time I was up there, around 2010, I thought I saw a party rigging a rappel from some bolts near the top of the east face, towards the north ridge. I did not have time to investigate at the time, and thought I would find comments here but did not.

Am I incorrect in thinking there is a rap route? I would find that easier and quicker than the tedious walkoff down the west side.

Rick Casey Aug 11, 2015
Descent comments: In 2007, I did the North Ridge and descended to the North and West at no harder or more dangerous than 2nd/3rd class. This seemed to be the quickest way back to the start of the North Ridge. Yesterday, we climbed Syke's and decided to try the South and East descent option. I did not care for it, but here is how we did it:

The descent starts at the saddle between the sub-summit where Syke's tops out and the true summit- you will see some cairns leading east (out over the face you just climbed). Head out over the face and descend skier's right, diagonaling over a large ledge with lots of loose rocks. Use caution as there are many routes under you. Pass a few gullies on your left, but do not descend yet. Stay close to the headwall on your right, then ASCEND just a few meters up and right to a place where you get cliffed out. A large cairn was here and we did an easy scramble slightly left to access a large gully. Once in the gully, angle skier's left and descend the face all the way to the scree field below. The gully is easy and safe until you get near the bottom, where you encounter some water polished rock with piles of sand and loose rock on top. You will encounter a few "slip and die" areas due to the exposure to your (skier's) right. Because of this, I can not recommend this descent to anyone. If it is wet or icy, do not even consider this descent. I will be heading off to the West in the future. Be safe out there. Aug 29, 2009
Free Gear!! My [name's] Grant Ortman. I'm checking to see if anyone will be climbing "[The Barb]" in [the] coming days. i had to bail today (Aug 21st) and had to leave some serious gear. I had to leave a decent amount of my rack since my partner [doesn't] have any gear. Anyway I was checking to see if someone would be willing to get my gear down. If someone does pluck my gear and actually tells me about it([instead of] adding it to there rack) I will give them any one piece of gear that they took of the wall. [It's] kind of all over since we had to rap with one rope. All of the gear is at basic stances along the route exept for two cams about 20 feet below the [Middle Earth]ledge. If your an honest person call me when you have the gear at 970-222-6469 or email at Aug 21, 2005
Heads Up!!! If your heading out to the Spearhead, or any other place in the Park, bring some deet for the mosquitoes are Hell. Aug 2, 2004
Does anyone know if it is possible or advisable to hike from Long's Peak through the Trough(s?) over to Spearhead? We want to camp at the Boulder Field on Long's Peak one day, summit the next morning and then hike over to Spearhead and bivy.

Any hints/tips or suggestions please send them to

Thanks,Bryan Jul 7, 2003
Don't skip the bivy. This is the greatest "backcountry site" in all of RMNP and it's only available to climbers. I have pulled a permit and bivied many a time "JUST" for the camping and then hiked the N. Ridge to at least make my permit legit. Even a bivy permit won't guaranty a first start though. I have seen many parties arriving at the base for Syke's, the Barb and the N Ridge as early as 4:00 AM while I'm still eating breakfast ! Jun 18, 2003
There are also good arguments for bivying up at Spearhead:

1. Incredible light show on the Keyboard of the Winds each evening as the alpenglow takes over.
2. Sipping coffee from your sleeping bag in the morning as you watch the day-trippers wind their way through the willows far below.
3. Watching from 4 pitches up as a marmot tries to reach your hanging food bag- and stumbles up-side-down into the talus.
4. Excellent bouldering sessions while the soup is cooking.
5. A chance to use all that fancy, expensive titanium / Schoeller / gortex bivy gear.
6. The option to climb until dark- linking a couple routes, or even starting later in the morning on those stellar, cloudless days.
7. An escape from the heat of the lowlands, far below and seemingly another world.

Either way it's a treat to climb on The Spearhead.

However, this year, with the road construction, be forwarned that logistics will be very different. Private cars will be banned from continuing past Sprague Lake, and a shuttle service will operate instead to Bear Lake. I have heard the shuttle will start at 5am each morning (this may not be exact), so "car-to-car" days may be impacted- plus you'll have to hike the extra stretch from Bear Lake. What all this means is that bivying may be the best option this year and next, until the road work is completed. So bivy permits are going to be at a premium this season- plan ahead. May 12, 2003
Though a lot of people seem to [recommend] a bivy for this one, here's a vote for the one day ascent. Here's why:1. Avoid park entrance fees and bivy permit fees2. Avoid carrying a heavy pack up there3. With a relatively mellow approach, in terms of elevation gain, it's easy to get up there quickly.

We had great weather, which probably helped influence me to [recommend] the one day ascent.

One last comment; we had a much more epic day doing the Casual Route on the Diamond, over what turned out to be multiple days, than we did doing Syke's Sickle in one from Denver. May 10, 2003
Syke's Sickle is OUTSTANDING!!! In my gumby days, I got benighted on this puppy just above the Sickle and sufferred a hanging biby with cotton pants and a fleece in September. My gosh, the stars....

Came back and sent it with much better style a couple years later, start early!!! Both times used the Bivy option. Long hike with Bivy gear...pack light!!! #3 Camalot is as big as you need for the Sickle. Mark Michaels, SLC, Utah. Feb 6, 2003
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
Joshua's right, call the backcountry office (970)586-1206 to reserve a bivy spot at the base of the mountain. The permit is $15 per night, but don't forget the entry fee to the park is an additional $15, unless you don't plan on bivying. In that case enter the park before 7AM and its no charge and the gates are open. Many people choose to sans sleep, enter the park at 3:00AM or so, drive to Glacier Basin trail, park and hump the 3 hours or so to the base of mountain. Then, do the climb (approx. 4-4 1/2 hrs.) and go home. A very long day. The people who followed us up the climb last weekend did just that.

Note: The bivy caves closest to the mountain are the biggest and farther away from the vegetation surrounding the stream and nearby pond. We opted for one a little farther away nearer to the pond and were awoken by a curious elk that showed up at midnight and chomped on the vegetation for a good hour and came very close! Jul 25, 2002
I'd recommend spending the night at the base of this beauty. There are spacious boulder caves all over the slope below, eliminating the need for tents/tarps etc. You need to get the proper permits, which, I think are limited to 8 people/evening, and are a bit pricey...but its well worth the solitude and fresh AM start to your climbing. --God's country, to say the least. Mar 18, 2002
To descend from the top of the North Ridge, Barb, or Syke's (if not going to the very wild and worthwhile summit):

Head straight down west (broad gully) from where you topped out. From the point where it gets obviously steeper, start looking to head left (south). The steeper part has a somewhat obvious and loose trail heading down it. If you follow this, you will cliff out. While heading left, we passed a steeper part that looked almost downclimbable but it was vegetated. The next gully over south is the one to take. A few feet of loose class 3 downclimbing will put you on the loose trail - head right. Jul 30, 2001

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