Type: Trad, Ice, 4 pitches, Grade II
FA: unknown
Page Views: 2,157 total · 9/month
Shared By: Leo Paik on Dec 20, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

You & This Route

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This is an interesting set of bits of low-end difficulty ice that can make for an interesting _ day for the exploring types but it is certainly not for those in pursuit of a pump nor a number grade. There is nothing vertical here. Consensus put it at 1.5 stars.

For those from Leadville, it is a longer walk but better quality than Chalk Creek though probably technically easier. For those from Denver, it is a long haul. At least 2.5 hours in the car each way plus an hour-ish approach for those unfamiliar. It is probably akin to a souped-up version of Silverplume or Clear Creek's main drainage.

Be ready for a cold and wet. It doesn't get sun and it definitely drips. Chemical hand warmers can be a blessing.

Based upon the dense trees, avalanche issues are probably negligible here.

For ice, the best bit of ice is the lowest tier of falls. There are 3 main flows in the first tier here. This is probably the blue down and R visible from the car.

The R-most flow of the first tier is the least steep at sinker WI2+ for 105 feet. This is somewhat reminiscent of Pamola Peak ice, ME. It can end at a large tree leaning out closer to horizontal or slightly higher up with more vertical-oriented trees. There are slightly stiffer variations to start to add a bit of umph. There was just one cord here so bring more slings/rings if you want to rap this one. You can traverse to the tree above the center flow. Rope stretch on a single 60m rope rap will probably make it. It was quite wet and plastic despite temps in the low teens.

The center flow of the first tier is nice WI3 sinker ice with a dirt/moss finish or thinner and more ice to the L. There are a bunch of old slings on a tree about 95 feet up. This tree, too, sticks out from vertical towards the horizontal. Beware on pulling your rope as there is a nice open pool of water waiting at the base here.

There is a shorter bit of ice on the L of the first tier at WI3R with ice mushrooms and thinner bits of cool-looking ice with water rushing beneath it. It's perhaps 45 feet of ice but another 45 feet to a decent tree. No fixed anchors here.

The second tier/bit of ice above has several short steps for 5-20 feet at WI2. Some hollow ice here at least early season. There were no fixed anchors above this bit.

The third tier/bit of ice has a wandering bit of pretty WI2+ ice for 80-90 feet here. It stops at a tree with a couple slings sans rings. This is probably the ice up and L visible from the car.

The fourth tier/bit of ice goes up a gully at WI1-2+ depending on the line for about 80 feet. There are trees above this without obvious anchors here. From here the terrain flattens. There may be more ice above but we, uh, ran out of time for the partial day.

Descent: We lowered some on the 4th tier, rapped the 3rd tier, downclimbed the 2nd tier, traversed to above the center flow, belayed briefly to the center flow anchor, and rapped the center flow. Bring more slings and rings if you like to rap or like beefy anchors.

Directions: From Salida/Buena Vista, drive N from Buena Vista about 11 miles on Hwy 24 to Clear Creek Canyon Rd/FR 390 (which goes to Vicksburg). Head W on this dirt road for 5.7 miles to a clearing. At one point, the road veers R and uphill instead of descending into a ranch. From Denver, drive W on I-70 to Copper Mt, exit S on Hwy 91. Pass over Fremont Pass, descend into Leadville. Drive slowly through town. Go 14.4 miles past Hwy 82. Drive another 4.3 miles to Clear Creek Canyon Rd/FR 390. Head W on this dirt road for 5.7 miles to this same clearing. Spy some of these bits of ice peering from trees on a N-facing drainage (I believe this is Belford Gulch) off Mt. Belford about 800-1000 feet up. You might consider going elsewhere if there were 6 cars parked here already. Heck, you know this pattern of ice forming in drainages off the N faces of 14'ers seems to be like a pattern....

Approach: First, get some bearings on what you are heading for as it gets dense in the trees (or perhaps was that us?). Descend into the river basin here, hopefully following some footprints. Beware of following our return footprints placed in the dark in the bushy sections along the river. When in doubt, be cautious and hop on rocks or move up onto solid ground, as there are certainly pools of waters here and there with thin ice. The trail we found on the way up stayed mostly flat until you are generally below the drainage. Hike up and angle R. If you find the rock outcropping perhaps 300-500 feet up, you should move R another 100 yards or so. Water drains further R than you think here. Should you find a decent drainage with water running and/or ice, head up on the L side of this drainage. Probably 800 feet up or so, find a wide area of big blue. You're there!


Gear: handful of screws, slings, 60m rope (at least), no rock gear needed. A distinct lack of brains.

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