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Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead

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Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 8,700'
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Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Jan 29, 2006

72° | 43°

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57° | 36°

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RMNP, Jaws Falls, Dec. 29, 2014.


This is a low-lying area of RMNP with the area-classic ice climb, Jaws, along with a smattering of ethereal smear and drips. Due to its low elevation and South-facing aspect, you must time things well with cloud cover, cold temps, and good snowmelt to find anything to climb. Note, sometimes on a cold wintry day, just waiting til mid-afternoon for the sun to get off the ice can lead to more stable ice conditions. Nonetheless, this submission is to better organize climbs like Jaws, Windy Gulch Cascades, the Dangler, Short But..., and possibly others.

Getting There 

From Denver, head North on I-25 to US 36 through Boulder & Lyons, to Estes Park. Follow this through downtown Estes Park to the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Once through, take the 1st left on the Bear Lake Road, follow this down into Moraine Park (large drainage with RMNP's largest campground), take the 1st right up the drainage, turn left just before the campground, follow the road to its winter end point. Hike up this drainage on the road 0.7-0.8 miles to the summer Fern Lake trailhead. Continue up the trail to find ice.

Each route has its own specific directions and distances which should ideally be listed under each climb's description.

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.3 miles from here

3 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead:
Jaws Falls   WI4     Trad, Ice, 1 pitch, 160'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead

Featured Route For Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead
Rock Climbing Photo: Jubal Smith on Jaws.

Jaws Falls WI4  Colorado : CO Ice & Mixed : ... : Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trai...
Jaws Falls, or just plain "Jaws", is one of the nicest moderate ice climbs in the state. In the middle of the route, a big cave forms with teeth like daggers of ice hanging from its mouth. Hence the name. Thin, brittle ice leads up to the base of the cave. Climb out of the cave (crux) and cruise easier ground up and left to a big tree with rap slings. 170' If the ice conditions are thin. Alternate belays and variations to the climb can be found on the right. With 1 200' rope, you can rap ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Comments on Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead Add Comment
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By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Feb 4, 2002
Messed around on Jaws yesterday. There is not much left of this ice climb. Most of it is lying in shattered ruins at its base. Climb rock on the right side to a ledge. Climb a column on the right and drift left across the upper flow to the tree with the rap slings.

Although, I didn't go up to it, Windy Gulch Cascades looked pretty sad from the trail.
By Tony T.
From: Denver, CO
Feb 22, 2010
Does anyone have any better description on how to get to this climb? Me and a friend hiked almost two miles in from the Fern Lake Trailhead and we couldn't find it for the life of us. There was quite a bit of deep snow, but any beta on where the climb actually is?
By Dan R.
From: Fort Collins
Mar 3, 2010
Tony, I was up on Jaws Falls Sunday 2/28/10. The route is a little tricky to find, I almost missed it. Here is the best description I can give.... There is a good chance you will have to park at the Fern Lake shuttle station which is 0.7 miles east of the Fern Lake trailhead due to road closure. Start hiking west from the shuttle parking lot till you reach the Fern Lake TH. From there, take the trail west approximately 2 miles (probably a little less). You will see the falls on your RIGHT up in the huge cliffs. It is just before the Old Forest Inn. If you pass the Inn, you have gone too far. Like any route worth climbing, there is a long uphill slog to the route. Enjoy! Here's a pic showing conditions on 2/28/10.

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