Elevation: 10,574 ft
GPS: 40.283, -105.644 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 6,322 total · 46/month
Shared By: Richard Rossiter on Jan 2, 2008 with updates from Joe Martinet
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac


Overflow is a broad ice apron on the lower east face of Thatchtop Mountain, about 200 yards south of Jewell Lake and maybe 100 yards west of the Glacier Gorge Trail. The area is very secluded and is difficult to see from the trail. This year (2007/2008) the ice is very good and somewhat more extensive than when it was first climbed in 1977. Though not very tall (70 to 80 feet) the curtain is maybe 200 feet wide and offers 4 or 5 interesting lines of ascent. The routes are not too challenging, mostly WI3 M0 but are great fun. To escape from the top, wallow down steep snow to the south or rappel from trees.

Getting There

Begin from the Glacier Gorge parking area, and don show shoes or skis as necessary. Follow the line of the summer trail to the Shortcut, but donÂ’'t take the Shortcut. Turn right (west) and follow an unnamed drainage (usually tracked) until it is easy to veer south and gain the main trail near the Loch Vale Trail junction. Proceed west and take all the left branches in the trail. Follow the general line of the summer trail to the log bridge across Glacier Creek, stay right and follow the creek to Mill's Lake. Head south across the frozen lake (normally safe until May) and continue across Jewell Lake, beyond which the valley bottom can be followed all the way to Black Lake. Look for a large boulder on the left side of the trail maybe 100 yards past Jewell Lake. Go straight west over/around windfall and across Glacier Creek. The ice flow will be obvious about 200 feet above the creek.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Overflow and Jewell Lake

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Trad, Ice, Alpine
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
WI2-3 Trad, Ice, Alpine
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Doug Redosh
Golden, CO
Doug Redosh   Golden, CO
Fun area, though it looks like it might lie at the bottom of an avalanche run. Has not been recent activity as there are big trees at the top, but above it lie tiny trees. Mar 14, 2008
Mark Cushman
Cumming, GA
Mark Cushman   Cumming, GA
Eli Helmuth calls this Jewel Lake Ice on his website, I haven't heard it called "Overflow" before. Is this a historic name or should we change this area name to Jewel Lake Ice with routes of Overflow Left and Overflow Right? May 29, 2008
I am not fussy about the name, but I do know the source of the name Overflow. Ralph Baldwin, Time Hogan and myself were skiing in to Black Lake to climb what is now known as the West Gully, December, 1977. I caught a hint of the ice through the trees (Overflow that is) and said, "Hey, let's check this out." So we did. I led the pitch up the thick ice in the middle of the flow and brought up Tim and Ralph. We rapped off and on our way to Black Lake came up with name Overflow for the whole feature. See ROCK AND ICE CLIMBING, RMNP, THE HIGH PEAKS (1997), page 176. I have since then soloed all the obvious lines (some repeatedly because they are really fun) and given them the following names (I am not fussy about these names either):

1. Cave WI3+
Begin at a cave beside a left-facing dihedral near the left side of the ice apron. Climb icicles past the right (or left) side of the cave and continue up easier ice to the top of the flow. Look for slings around a tree and lower off.

2. Thin WI4
Start above a big tree near the middle of the wall. Climb very thin ice over a rock slab to a conspicuous bush. Continue more easily to the top of the flow.

3. Center WI3
FA: R. Rossiter, Ralph Baldwin, and Tim Hogan, 1977.
Climb thick ice up the middle of the flow and rappel from a tree.

4. Tommy Knockers WI3+
The right side of the flow is steeper and thinner and develops a dull orange cast perhaps from minerals seeping out of the Earth.

5. Thinner WI4
To the right of Tommy Knockers the ice is even thinner.

BTW, we did climb the beautiful West Gully route in a snow storm the next day. I do not know who first climbed it. Duncan Ferguson, Dakers Gowans, Pete Metcalf or the like would be good candidates. I also do not know the origin of the name West Gully. I had only seen the climb a month earlier having gone into Black Lake to climb the ice on the southeast side of the lake, already a known destination in 1977. Dec 23, 2008
Mark Cushman
Cumming, GA
Mark Cushman   Cumming, GA
Thanks, Richard! It's always good to get the historical information on a route (or set). Dec 24, 2008
Estes Park, CO
acouncell   Estes Park, CO
Climbed/guided here about 1/2-dozen days this year and, while it's still forming, it's very thick and widening out each day. It's a good lead but can be walked/scrambled around on either side to access the anchor trees. The left-most ice up a gully feature would be the easiest lead. If you're looking for more of that steppy, easy ice there is also an upper tier in the WI2+/3- range and is slightly shorter than the main area. Upper tier could be nice on busy days.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you can follow "Overflow's" water source high up onto Thatchtop (this ice can be seen from Jewel Lake). This involves a bit of unfortunate snow-slogging above the upper tier, following a bench that traverses way left, and then up ice-covered slabs (WI2ish) to a short (~30'), steep headwall that has a couple thin-ice variations. It's not classic but is fun exploring and, from "Overflow's" base to the top of the headwall is a 1000' elevation difference. It's worth noting that this high route goes right up a serious avalanche path (lots of large trees snapped off) and would be less-than-prudent in certain conditions. Nov 30, 2009
Jewell Lake Overflow:
I was finally able to mark the location of the ice at N40.28350 W105.64162 at 10,062'. Much of the rock wall here has yet to be filled in with ice, but there was a thick section through the middle. The ice was wet and plastic, despite previous 1.5 days of cold weather. The overflow can be easily climbed with a 60m rope.

We left Denver at 9 am, started at 11a from the Glacier Gorge TH, got the the overflow at 2:15, returned to Glacier Gorge TH lot at 6:30. Looking back, we would have liked to start at least 2 hours earlier. There is a huge advantage of skis for this one - you can skin up the winter shortcut at N40.30673 W105.64181 at 9,323' to the summer trail, then quickly get out of there after climbing. There was about the minimum snow cover to ski in - meaning I left my skins on the whole route down to prevent rock damage and had to carry my skis the very last uphill before the parking lot.

Photos at the end of this album: flickr.com/photos/19047247@N04/sets/72157649557439586/ Dec 6, 2014
Joe Martinet
Denver, CO
Joe Martinet   Denver, CO
Attempted to get up to Overflow / Jewel Lake this weekend. Conditions were pretty tough with high winds and low temps. We could not find the falls but determined they were just further up on the right of trail from Jewell Lake. You just have to go deeper in and break more trail as the snow is pretty deep back there. Ran into several other teams who didn't make Jewell or Black Lake either. Conditions were just too tough. The ice maybe good, but we didn't run into anyone who had actually climbed on Saturday. If you are going to go, I suggest you be ready to really hike in deep. Jan 19, 2016