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North Face Icefield

, Trad, 1000 ft, Grade II,  Avg: 1.9 from 8 votes
FA: unknown
Colorado > CO Ice & Mixed > RMNP - Mixed/Ice > Glacier Gorge T… > Loch Vale & uphill

Description

North Face Icefield or Powell Peak Icefield is the wide snowfield west of Powell Peak and Vanquished Buttress, above Sky Pond in Loch Vale. A stellar alpine ice route, it is best climbed in mid- to late summer when the snow has slid and hard gray alpine ice is revealed. A number of variations are possible, the most consistent ice and steepest line is to the right of the rock rib high on the route. When we climbed it, enough melting had occured that there was some steep slush/ice mix and a little mixed climbing to get into the right side of the route. It is definitely worth it for 200+' of perfect ice.

Protection

Ice screws and a few nuts might be helpful when this route is "in" and if you choose to rope up.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Top-o-route snow steepness on far-right upper couloir, Sept 23 2017. Some ice was found around the sides and at the choke entrance below.
[Hide Photo] Top-o-route snow steepness on far-right upper couloir, Sept 23 2017. Some ice was found around the sides and at the choke entrance below.
About 50 meters up the far right side line on Sept. 23, 2017.
[Hide Photo] About 50 meters up the far right side line on Sept. 23, 2017.
Mid-route snow steepness on far right side, Sept. 23, 2017.
[Hide Photo] Mid-route snow steepness on far right side, Sept. 23, 2017.
Excellent conditions on 6/25/11.
[Hide Photo] Excellent conditions on 6/25/11.
Nice alpine ice conditions, lower 60 meters of far right-side line, Sept. 23, 2017.
[Hide Photo] Nice alpine ice conditions, lower 60 meters of far right-side line, Sept. 23, 2017.
What goes up...Must come down...at least the fun way!!
[Hide Photo] What goes up...Must come down...at least the fun way!!
Aaron Miller, split board specialist!
[Hide Photo] Aaron Miller, split board specialist!
Aaron nearing the top of the snowfield. At its steepest here, averaging around 55 degrees.
[Hide Photo] Aaron nearing the top of the snowfield. At its steepest here, averaging around 55 degrees.
Aaron Miller climbing great snow on PT snowfield.
[Hide Photo] Aaron Miller climbing great snow on PT snowfield.
Powell Thatchtop view from Taylor Glacier.
[Hide Photo] Powell Thatchtop view from Taylor Glacier.
This is the panorama to the west from the ridge between Thatchtop Mountain and Powell Peak.
[Hide Photo] This is the panorama to the west from the ridge between Thatchtop Mountain and Powell Peak.
High on the Powell Peak Icefield.<br>
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Photo by Dave Andrews.
[Hide Photo] High on the Powell Peak Icefield. Photo by Dave Andrews.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
[Hide Comment] One of the rock couloirs between the steepest ice/snow field and the less steep snow field was blasting out very significant quantities of rock 7/18/2. It was leaving a good sized fan of fresh grey granite. This may affect the approach to this climb. Jul 20, 2002
[Hide Comment] What is the descent off of this? Dec 6, 2004
[Hide Comment] How do you get down from the top of the North Face Ice Field? There are several options, but only one of them is safe and practical. The ice field tops out on the Continental Divide just shy of 13000 feet. The best and safest descent is to hike the Divide behind Point 13015, behind Taylor Peak 13153 and descend the Andrews Glacier and Andrews Creek Trail back to the Loch Vale Trail. This means that you carry all your gear with you because a return to the base of the climb is fairly inconvenient. Alternatives: You can descend the Taylor Glacier Head Wall. I have done this, but it is no piece of cake. You can descend the NE Ridge of Powell Peak to the first col, then descend north to Sky Pond. This is dangerous and is not recommended. A final option is to follow the west side of the Continental Divide all the way to the summit of Flattop Mountain and hike down the nice trail to Bear Lake. This is the long way home. Nov 24, 2008
Martin le Roux
Superior, CO
[Hide Comment] This is called the "Thatchtop-Powell" icefield in a couple of guidebooks (e.g. Gillett, Cooper "Colorado Snow Climbs"), which is an odd name since it doesn't actually finish between Thatchtop and Powell -- it finishes on the Taylor Peak side of Powell. Powell North Face is a better name.

As of late Sept 2011, this was hard neve with a thin layer of new snow. Angle was about 45 for the most part, maybe 50-55 degrees at the top of the couloir right of the rock rib. Cooper's book says 65 degrees, but we didn't think it was that steep. Sep 26, 2011
J1.
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] How do you descend after climbing the snowfield?? Well the absolute best way is to ski down! or board if you're a split boarder. Mar 30, 2013
[Hide Comment] Soloed 6/21/2015. Firm snow on route from ~5:30-7:15. Right half still had significant cornices. Descended Andrew's Glacier.
Jun 22, 2015