Elevation: 10,637 ft
GPS: 40.265, -105.642 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 75,546 total · 305/month
Shared By: Malcolm Daly on Nov 29, 1999
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac


Glacier Gorge is a six-mile-long gorge the starts near Bear Lake and heads down to the back side of Long's Peak. It's surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery, cleanest rock and the longest ice routes in the park. Glacier Gorge hosts a bevy of top-notch, serious, ice climbs. The routes are strewn across the northeast facing slopes of Thatchtop, the North side of Arrowhead and in the cirque surrounding Black Lake. The area is scenic and fairly remote although you are likely to run into another party on the popular routes on weekends. All of these routes should be viewed as mountaineering routes involving technical pure water ice pitches combined with long, approaches and technical descents including steep snow, loose rock, and high altitude. Protection can be scarce and/or difficult to find, and changing conditions can make a moderate full-day climb into a strenuous, post-holing, struggle. With the abbreviated winter daylight hours, be sure to start this route early, bring a headlamp and be prepared to use it. The approaches to these climbs take 2-3 hrs under good conditions and considerably longer in deep snow etc. I have made the approach from the parking lot to the base of All Mixed Up in less than 1 hour; and I have had it take 2 hours just to get the few hundred yards from Mill's Lake to the base of the route! The Black Lake cirque is a far enough trudge that most consider this a winter camping type destination.

Getting There

From Estes Park, take US 36 to the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. A quarter of a mile past the station, Turn left onto Bear Lake Rd, in the direction of Bear Lake. Follow this road approx. 8.5 miles to the well-marked Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking area (approx. ½ mile before you reach Bear Lake). Park there and hike the Glacier Gorge Trail to Mills Lake, approx 3 miles. Snowshoes are a good idea in fresh snow, but the trail is usually well-packed within a matter of days. (Here's a great shortcut that will save you 30 minutes: Head right immediately after you cross the second overbuilt bridge-the ones with the handrails. Follow the drainage up until you intersect the GG trail about 100 yards from the GG/Loch junction. Summer climber's note: This is not the summer shortcut which parallels the drainage on the left. The winter route follows the creek bed and is quite skiiable.) Right before you get to Mills Lake you'll have to make a decision: left takes you into Glacier Gorge, Thachtop and the climbs at Black Lake; right takes you to the Loch.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Glacier Gorge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
WI4- R
All Mixed Up
Trad, Ice, Alpine 4 pitches
Black Lake - West Gully
Trad, Ice, Alpine 3 pitches
Black Lake Slabs
Trad, Ice, Alpine
The Middle Finger of Dr. Wazz
Trad, Ice, Alpine
M4 Mod. Snow
The Hourglass Couloir
Mixed, Snow, Alpine 6 pitches
Mod. Snow
The Trough
Snow, Alpine
WI4+ PG13
Ice, Alpine
Yellow Tears
Ice, Alpine
M3 Mod. Snow
Trad, Mixed, Snow, Alpine 5 pitches
WI4 M4 A1 Mod. Snow
Right Gully
Trad, Aid, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 7 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
All Mixed Up Thatchtop Mt (SE aspect)
WI4- R Trad, Ice, Alpine 4 pitches
Black Lake - West Gully Glacier Creek Drainag…
WI3-4 Trad, Ice, Alpine 3 pitches
Black Lake Slabs Glacier Creek Drainag…
WI2-3 Trad, Ice, Alpine
The Middle Finger of Dr. Wazz Thatchtop Mt (SE aspect)
WI5 Trad, Ice, Alpine
The Hourglass Couloir Arrowhead
M4 Mod. Snow Mixed, Snow, Alpine 6 pitches
The Trough Long's Peak (western…
Mod. Snow Snow, Alpine
Stoneman Glacier Creek Drainag…
WI4+ PG13 Ice, Alpine
Yellow Tears Glacier Creek Drainag…
WI5 Ice, Alpine
Deborah Arrowhead
M3 Mod. Snow Trad, Mixed, Snow, Alpine 5 pitches
Right Gully McHenry's Peak
WI4 M4 A1 Mod. Snow Trad, Aid, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 7 pitches
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