Elevation: 12,129 ft
GPS: 40.319, -105.694 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 48,035 total · 205/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details

Description

Notchtop is a spectacular mountain, offering climbing on par with anything in the Park short of Long's Peak. It offers a beautiful, steep South Ridge, an excellent mountaineering route, and some hard 5.11 testpieces. The only thing not to like is the dangerous and confusing descent. The mountain has 2 summits: that of the spire which is separated from the main peak by the namesake notch, and the summit of the main peak. If you value your life, DO NOT summit the spire! It is composed entirely of loose, fractured blocks which could (indeed have) easily give way at any moment. If your route leads to a point very near this summit, then find a 4th class scramble south of it that turns into a ledge, which in turn leads west to the actual notch. From the notch, go 3rd class west to the main summit. Then, find a 4th/5th class ledge SYSTEM which gradually descends below a craggy ridge, near the top of the peak's SW face. This ledge is very exposed in spots and cuts across the top of several very steep gullies (some of which have rappel slings-- DO NOT rappel these gullies, however!). Make your return to the base of the cliff ONLY when an obvious, wide, talus filled third class gully leads to the SE. This descent would be even more treacherous if it was wet or dark. Rope up if you are at all unsure. Richard Rossiter's guidebook (which is usually very good) contains some dangerous misinformation about this descent. NOTE: there is apparently a new rap route (not described in any guidebook) which offers passage down the SW face, but I know nothing about it. Possible beta may be had at climbing shops in Estes Park, et al...or not.

This subarea only contains rock routes.

Getting There

Park at Bear Lake, and follow the signs north of the lake to Odessa Lake. However, do NOT go all the way to Odessa Lake; after about 3 miles, when Notchtop is in full view, the trail begins to descend to Odessa Lake. Find an unmarked spur trail to the left which leads to shallow Lake Helene, then scramble through slabs and krummholtz west of the lake to treeline and some small tarns. The cliff is obvious from there.

To quickly link to Notchtop ice/mixed routes

11 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Notchtop

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 73
Spiral Route
Trad, Alpine
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 17
Mornin'
Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 5
Relief Train
Trad, Alpine
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 108
Direct South Ridge
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 3
Instant Clarification (AKA Rap R…
Trad, Alpine 3 pitches
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c X
 3
White Room
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Spiral Route
 73
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad, Alpine
Mornin'
 17
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
Relief Train
 5
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, Alpine
Direct South Ridge
 108
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Instant Clarification (AKA…
 3
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 3 pitches
White Room
 3
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c X Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
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