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The Luge (aka Curling)
Trad, Ice, Alpine,
Avg: 1 from 3
FA: B. Gillett & D. Snively, 1998
> CO Ice & Mixed
> RMNP - Mixed/Ice
> Bear Lake Trail…
> Chaos Canyon
> Chaos Creek
This is the left of 2 subtle pillars of ice (labeled 3 in the topo) that can form on the steep section just to the right of The Luge on the upper tier of ice at Chaos Creek (first described by B. Gillett in his excellent RMNP: The Climber's Guide). It may be considered a variation to The Luge, but its difficulty seems unrepresented by The Luge's rating. The steepness is a bit deceiving. The fun is not. You can TR this by first climbing The Luge (WI1 or WI3). Best to use a 60m rope to belay from below as falling ice will gravitate toward the belay.
To approach this area, park at Bear Lake in RMNP. Snowshoes are recommended, although a nice wallow can warm you up if you so desire. Hike the well-packed trail 0.5 miles to Nymph Lake. There is an old fire road/trail that shaves a couple minutes going directly from Bear Lake to Nymph. To spy this area (probably the right profile of the top of Olympic Games), you must look carefully from an arms length of the Restoration area sign, posted on one shore of the lake. You can only see the top of some of the ice from here. Take a bearing & head through the trees. Stay lower in the basin as there is a steep, avalanche-potential slope just to the right of the ice if you try to contour. It can be challenging to find the ice once you are in the forest. As you get close to the cliffs, you will likely see bits of the ice 150 feet above, head up. Snow can be chest-deep on this last bit if no one has approached lately. You can drop off the trail between Nymph & Dream Lakes and drop into the drainage below the ice but this is more challenging. Note, you can get a bit disoriented in the trees with all the crisscrossing snow shoe tracks going in circles.
Approach the pillar as for the Luge on low angle ice slabs. Power up the pillar. Finish on funky ice as you top out. Anchor on one of several large trees. Rappel off trees or walkoff left to descend.