Elevation: 12,642 ft
GPS: 40.268, -105.65 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 38,968 total · 189/month
Shared By: Kurt Johnson on Dec 22, 2001 with updates from Ken Duncan
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details

Description

Arrowhead is the name given to a collection of spires in the Spearhead Cirque attached to McHenry's via its northeast ridge, directly above Black Lake. Up until a few years ago not many routes had been put up here, probably due to the long approach and relatively short climbs (most are 4 to 5 pitches in length). Recently, however, the abundance of clean, aesthetic lines compacted into a relatively small area has drawn droves of first-ascentionists looking for virgin rock in an otherwise mostly climbed-out Park. The rock here is quality granite, and if the entire formation were picked up and moved to a place like Lumpy Ridge there would already be 100 named routes on it.

Getting There

To get there, park or take the shuttle to the Glacier Gorge lot and follow the trail that goes to Black Lake via Mills Lake. Once at the lake, skirt around the right side and scramble up directly underneath the long prominent fracture which leads straight upslope to the base of Arrowhead. Once at the beginning of the fracture, work your way diagonally left up grassy ledges until you're up in the cirque near the base of the rock. From here, you can either head up and left to access routes along the ridge connecting Arrowhead to McHenry's, or scramble up and right for the routes above Black Lake. You can also head up the left side of Black Lake as if you're going to Spearhead, but it's farther and takes more time. For routes on the far right side of Arrowhead, bushwack up and right from Black Lake.

24 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Arrowhead

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 3
East Face/Arrowhead
Trad, Alpine
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 15
Glacier Gorge Traverse
Trad, Alpine
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 6
Rain Dance
Trad, Alpine
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 3
Warhead
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 12
Ripsaw/Northeast Ridge
Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 30
Arrowplane
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 13
Ithaca
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 17
Airhead
Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
East Face/Arrowhead
 3
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad, Alpine
Glacier Gorge Traverse
 15
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, Alpine
Rain Dance
 6
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine
Warhead
 3
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Ripsaw/Northeast Ridge
 12
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
Arrowplane
 30
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Ithaca
 13
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Airhead
 17
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Arrowhead »

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J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Yep, that's McHenrys at left and Arrowhead in the middle. The right-hand "mountain" in Ernie's photo is actually two mountains, I believe -- a low ridge descending from Thatchtop, at far right; and the higher, snow-streaked summit behind it, which is Powell Peak (see Powell Peak and Snark descriptions for photos of the E face of Powell). Nov 5, 2004
Josh Janes    
The two raps from the low point on the McHenry's-Arrowhead saddle can be done with a single 70m rope (despite the recommendations for having two 60m ropes in the descriptions for Ithaca, Airhead, and Arrowplane) and a little bit of very easy down climbing after the second rappel. Aug 29, 2008
Greg Sievers
Bozeman, MT
Greg Sievers   Bozeman, MT
I'm seeking some input before I dare suggest we did an FA up here. Scott Kimball and I climbed a 3 pitch route (8-1-10 up a fairly plumb LFD on the shortest part of the Arrowhead south-facing wall. It's about 200' right of the rap line. It's such an obvious line that it seems hard to believe it wasn't already done. In fact, we thought we heard rumor that maybe Pete Takeda had done something in this area?? See photo for route. Most of the climbing was 5.9 with a few short moves of low-5.10. Community comment is welcome. Jan 24, 2011
Alex Shainman
Rifle, CO
Alex Shainman   Rifle, CO
I second the recommendation that one 70m rope does work well for the "low-point" raps starting under the big visor block, which is marked by a large cairn.

Be advised you will have to downclimb maybe 5.5ish terrain after rap #2. Sep 4, 2011
monkeyvanya
Denver, CO
monkeyvanya   Denver, CO
Did the NE ridge from Solitude Lake on 7/1/17. We had some trouble on the way down after rappels from the saddle.

We opted to go down to the Black Lake at the base of Arrowhead, SE side. Although this way looked like an established trail, the snow was covering 10-20% of the slabs/hillside. It forced us to a technical traverse on wet slabs 20' above a 3' grassy ledge with steeper slabs directly below. Under a hanging, runny snowpatch.
Very bad idea, in hindsight, but we got lucky. We should've made a loop to Spearhead and down the normal Spearhead descent instead - longer, but safer and faster.

Looked like you can use SE descent safely later in the season, when all the snow is gone. Jul 3, 2017
Kat A
Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Kat A   Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
The trail approaching Arrowhead from the west side of Black Lake can be difficult to locate on your first trip, especially in the dark. Cross the stream at the Black Lake outlet, where you can fill your water jugs (higher up, water is less abundant). Follow social trails briefly through the woods near the lake; eventually this opens up to a small grassy field that turns to talus. From here, keep right and ascend a short section of talus. Look for the footpath, which generally follows where the tall pine trees and lower scrub / brush meet (see photos on pages 223 & 231 of the Rossiter guide). As you ascend, the trail becomes faint at times, with occasional cairns. In general, remain high and climber's right (towards the cliff bands) for a more efficient approach towards the main south face (e.g. Arrowplane and Airhead routes). Aug 13, 2018