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Routes in Big Thompson Canyon Ice

??? T,TR WI4-5 M5-6
Approach Gully T WI2
Disney Land WI2-3 PG13
Hahn's Solo T WI3-
Hidden Agenda T WI2
Horrooooooooooooom T WI3
Ice Age T WI2+
Ice Station Zebra T WI3-
Lower Falls T WI2
Novacaine Game T WI2+
Once in a Blue Moon T,TR WI2+ PG13
Peace Break T WI4-5 M4+ R
Playground WI2+
Sharky's Machine T WI3 PG13
Treebeard T WI3-
Unknown T WI4
Upper Falls T WI2
Elevation: 6,686 ft
GPS: 40.417, -105.372 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 15,313 total · 69/month
Shared By: Andrew Gram on Nov 29, 1999
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac


The ice in Big Thompson Canyon is some of the more popular ice in Colorado. The easy approach and very nice moderate climbing make this a good place to learn to climb or lead. There are two, regularly-forming, distinct pitches here with a short but fun step along the approach. In addition, there are more ice climbs that can form in the vicinity of the Beige Siphon Tube and the next 1.5 miles upstream with the right conditions. Definitely can be a fun place, especially for locals. It may not be worth the drive for non-locals.

Getting There

Big Thompson Canyon is along US 34 between Loveland and Estes Park. To reach the ice, look for the handicapped fishing access sign. The ice is fairly high on the hillside on the south side of the canyon near here. Crossing the Big Thompson is the crux in early season before the river is frozen over.

Link to Big Thompson Canyon rock



You may find this webcam helpful to look at conditions: Click on the camera icon.

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Drove up the canyon last night, 3-1-14, looks like Once in a Blue Moon and ??? are in and look pretty good. Mar 2, 2014
Anybody know if this early snow and cold snap has formed anything in the canyon yet? Oct 26, 2012
kyle kingrey
kyle kingrey   Loveland
Climbed lower and upper falls evening of 3/16/12. Warm weather made for exciting river x-ing. Lower falls was in but sounding a bit hollow. Upper still in but a lot of melting going on. It was 55 degrees up there at 7pm. Mar 17, 2012
Rumor has it Big Thompson is in and not too bad of shape. I was talking to a couple of guys from Fort Collins this morning while climbing and they said it was in and in good shape. Have not been there this year yet to confirm it. Feb 20, 2010
kyle kingrey
kyle kingrey   Loveland
NO ice on the Upper or Lower BTC falls. First time that I know of that no ice has been reported on the Upper flow. Jan 6, 2009
louisville, colorado
Phoenix   louisville, colorado
How far do the borders extend before you hit established rock climbing on either side? Oct 19, 2008
Brandon Miller
Ft. Collins, Colo
Brandon Miller   Ft. Collins, Colo
Was up there yesterday, not much ice. The lower falls have nothing and the upper falls is climable, as usual. The crossing is easy and solid. Fun solo. Jan 2, 2008
I haven't been to the Big Thomson Flow yet this season, but I went a few times last season... There's a log to get across the river... it's a little sketch, but it's doable. The approach is very steep but it's quick. When we went last time, my friends were able to do both ice and mixed climbing. Enjoy! Jan 2, 2008
Has anyone been to the Upper or Lower falls at Big Thompson? What are conditions like and can you get across the river?
Thanks. Dec 30, 2007
Has anyone been up to Big Thompson to see if the ice is in? Jan 10, 2007
Eli Helmuth
Ciales, PR
Eli Helmuth   Ciales, PR
Well, two things are probably happening here: Until last week, it had been relatively warm up here with temperatures not dropping below freezing at night. Usually these falls do not come into shape until the end of Dec. even when it is cold and wet outside.

As well, we are in a drought; despite what the media and developers say about our water problem. Bear Lake at 9500' in RMNP is showing a total of 7.5 inches of water there for the entire year. Less than 20 inches is considered a "desert ecosystem", and we had little or no moisture up here between January and July this last year with some good rainstorms in the summer that unfortunately don't reach everywhere and in the end leave little water for consumption, ice, forest health, etc.

And the forecast is for a low moisture winter again.... Dec 7, 2006
Climbed the upper falls at Big Thompson ice today. There is enough ice on the Big Thompson River so you can cross over to the gully that leads to the ice. The ice was in pretty good for the upper falls and no ice was present for the lower falls. If the cold weather stays for several more days, the ice on the left side should get much thicker due to the water running down the ice. The right side of the upper falls was quite brittle. Mar 11, 2006
kyle kingrey
kyle kingrey   Loveland
Climbed at Big Thompson on 2/19/06. Lower section still not in and will not come in at all this year. I'm curious as to why the lower section comes in great one year and not at all the next?
Upper section in good..left side has the best ice, middle section is slowly forming and right side is thin.

New area found! Approx 200yds past the Dam Store on the left side of the road about 100yds up, a nice section of ice has formed up due to the recent cold snap. 3 distinguished sections of ice have formed up nicely. WI3 to 5 for 30' to 50'
I climbed the main section WI4 for 35' on 2/20/06 with Allen Simons and Joe Stiles. This area is melting rapidly.
Pictures to come soon..... Feb 21, 2006
Has anyone been up to Thompson Falls recently? What are the conditions like and can you get across the river without falling in? Feb 20, 2006
12-28-04-falls are in really good. Surprisingly I was able to walk across the river without any difficulty. Ice was very plastic and hardlly chopped up at all. I'm sure this will change with any colder weather. Dec 30, 2004
Lower Falls are out.

Upper Falls are in; center is fat, left and right sides thin and brittle. Dec 27, 2001

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