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Routes in Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead


This is a low-lying area of RMNP with the area-classic ice climb, Jaws, along with a smattering of ethereal smear and drips. Due to its low elevation and South-facing aspect, you must time things well with cloud cover, cold temps, and good snowmelt to find anything to climb. Note, sometimes on a cold wintry day, just waiting til mid-afternoon for the sun to get off the ice can lead to more stable ice conditions. Nonetheless, this submission is to better organize climbs like Jaws, Windy Gulch Cascades, the Dangler, Short But..., and possibly others.

Getting There

From Denver, head North on I-25 to US 36 through Boulder & Lyons, to Estes Park. Follow this through downtown Estes Park to the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Once through, take the 1st left on the Bear Lake Road, follow this down into Moraine Park (large drainage with RMNP's largest campground), take the 1st right up the drainage, turn left just before the campground, follow the road to its winter end point. Hike up this drainage on the road 0.7-0.8 miles to the summer Fern Lake trailhead. Continue up the trail to find ice.

Each route has its own specific directions and distances which should ideally be listed under each climb's description.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Dan R.
Fort Collins
Dan R.   Fort Collins
Tony, I was up on Jaws Falls Sunday 2/28/10. The route is a little tricky to find, I almost missed it. Here is the best description I can give.... There is a good chance you will have to park at the Fern Lake shuttle station which is 0.7 miles east of the Fern Lake trailhead due to road closure. Start hiking west from the shuttle parking lot till you reach the Fern Lake TH. From there, take the trail west approximately 2 miles (probably a little less). You will see the falls on your RIGHT up in the huge cliffs. It is just before the Old Forest Inn. If you pass the Inn, you have gone too far. Like any route worth climbing, there is a long uphill slog to the route. Enjoy! Here's a pic showing conditions on 2/28/10.

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Tony T.
Denver, CO
Tony T.   Denver, CO
Does anyone have any better description on how to get to this climb? Me and a friend hiked almost two miles in from the Fern Lake Trailhead and we couldn't find it for the life of us. There was quite a bit of deep snow, but any beta on where the climb actually is? Feb 22, 2010
Julian Smith
Colorado Springs, CO
Julian Smith   Colorado Springs, CO
Messed around on Jaws yesterday. There is not much left of this ice climb. Most of it is lying in shattered ruins at its base. Climb rock on the right side to a ledge. Climb a column on the right and drift left across the upper flow to the tree with the rap slings.

Although, I didn't go up to it, Windy Gulch Cascades looked pretty sad from the trail. Feb 4, 2002

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