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Black Canyon National Park (Ice)
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Gandalf's Beard T 
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Gandalf's Beard 


Type:  Trad, Ice, 2 pitches, 300', Grade II
Original: WI4-5 [details]
FA: Frodo Baggins
Season: Winter
Page Views: 3,031
Submitted By: mtoensing on Feb 22, 2010

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Upper pitch, late January 2010.


Great ice route with amazing views. Worth it just to see North Chasm View Wall in the winter. Travel for 3-4 miles on the South Chasm View Road (skis or snowshoes needes) past Devil's Overlook. Pass one yellow sign, then a large boulder on the left. From here, you will pass a bend and pass another yellow street sign. Travel another 30-40 meters and enter the drainage immediately to your right. Descend a few hundred feet down the gulley/drainage through willows and thickets until you reach the mouth of the ice. Right on top of the climb is a boulder with 2 bolts for rappel. Rappel to the tree where you will make your second rappel. Some snow walking is necessary to reach the tree but it isn't far or steep. Once you reach the bottom of the second rappel, pull ropes and chose the line that is best for you.

P1) There is an easy gully, maybe WI3 and there are some mixed lines. We chose a small, steep pillar on the right side. Belay at the tree. 100 feet.

P2) WI3-WI5 We chose the intermediate ice at about WI4+ in the middle of the fall. To the left is WI3 and to the right is WI5. About 160-180 feet.


From US Hwy 50, take CO Hwy 347 to the Black Canyon Visitor's Center. It is about 5 miles from US Hwy 50. Park at the Visitor's Center. (Note: there are no park entry fees in the winter.) Grab a wilderness permit. Put your skis on and head on down the road. The guidebook says the ski takes about an hour. Allow for at least that if you are a fast skier. I recommend you allow an hour and a half to two hours for the approach.


Some rock pro for anchors, long slings for the tree, medium-large screws. 2 ropes for rappel.

Photos of Gandalf's Beard Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Gandalf's from the North Chasm overlook, March 30,...
Gandalf's from the North Chasm overlook, March 30,...
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading lower pitch, late January, 2010.
Leading lower pitch, late January, 2010.

Comments on Gandalf's Beard Add Comment
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By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Feb 22, 2010

Sorry I wasn't able to upload any pictures. The day we climbed this, 2-21-10, it was dumping snow and conditions were not ideal for photographs. On a side note, we got back to the car around 6PM and started the trek back to Gunnison. It was puking snow and our top speed was about 30 mph. About half way back a cop turned us around due to avalanches on US 50. Avalanches!!! Crazy stuff. We had to spend the night in Montrose.

Anyway this is a fantastic climb. Some of the best views I have ever seen climbing ice. Very much worth it.
By Vic Zeilman
Feb 1, 2011

A few things to add - If you waited to do this route until February or March, you could climb the entire route at WI3ish, if that's what you wanted to do. By mid to late December, both pitches of this route are usually climbable, and this year the route was in before you could really ski the road out to the climb. In December/January, expect the bottom pitch to be an ice runnel with some mixed climbing at the top as you move out left. There's some great rock gear placements on the first pitch when the ice is thin, so it's worth bringing a set of stoppers and a small selection of cams to 3" if it's earlier in the season. The second pitch has a number of variations. An easy WI3 ramp leads back to the rim, along with a couple of other lines at WI4/5. There's a set of obvious bolted anchors just a few feet from the edge of the ice, where you rappel in. There is NO need to build a gear anchor.
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Feb 6, 2011

Vic, I went back today and found the bolts. It was snowing like crazy last year and the bolts must have been covered in snow. They were easily spotted today. I agree, you can climb this whole climb at like WI3. But there are some sweet harder lines.
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Dec 13, 2013

Moderators of MP land...can I get this route moved? There is a Black Canyon National Park area, and that is where this route belongs.

My bad, when I submitted this route the Blue Mesa area was the only area, but this is not part of Blue Mesa and rather in the national park proper.

Thanks much!
By kpz
From: Tokyo, Japan
Jan 29, 2017

Unfortunately, Gandalf's Beard is not in anymore and likely won't be again, as the land owner above the climb has diverted the flow. We confirmed this Friday.

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