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Notchtop & vicinity

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Notchtop & vicinity Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 12,129'
Location: 40.3186, -105.694 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Malcolm Daly on Nov 30, 1999

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Odessa Gorge is one long gorge beginning at the top with Notchtop Mountain and ending at the bottom at Moraine Park. The upper end features a wide variety of ice climbing, from the classic alpine route up the North Face of Notchtop, to the wild, free-swinging Hot Doggie. At the bottom end of the gorge is the cold weather classic, Jaws.

This subarea only contains ice/mixed/snow routes.

Getting There 

Enter the park through the Beaver Meadows entrance and take your first left, heading towards Bear Lake. For Jaws, drive to the Moraine Park Campground and turn right. Go to the end of the plowed road and park. Hike 2 miles up the road until you see Jaws on your right.

To get to the climbs on Notchtop, drive to the Bear Lake parking lot. Head right around the lake on the Flattop Mountain trail. At the first major switchback, go left at the junction with the Bierstadt Lake trail. Once the trail hits the ridge, contour right, following the signs to Lake Helene, Fern Lake, and Odessa Gorge. From the north side of Lake Helene, look north and west down into the gorge to see Grace Falls and the Hot Doggie area. Look up to see the North Face of Flattop.

To quickly connect to Notchtop rock routes 

Notchtop rock routes.

Climbing Season

For the Bear Lake Trailheads area.

Weather station 8.2 miles from here

4 Total Climbing Routes

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

Classic Climbing Routes in Notchtop & vicinity

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Notchtop & vicinity:
Grace Falls   WI4     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 1 pitch, 100'   
Hot Doggie   WI5     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 1 pitch, 70'   
North Face (which actually faces NE)   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b WI3     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 5 pitches, 600'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Notchtop & vicinity

Featured Route For Notchtop & vicinity
Rock Climbing Photo:

North Face (which actually faces NE) 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b WI3  Colorado : CO Ice & Mixed : ... : Notchtop & vicinity
North Face follows the concave north face of Notchtop Mountain. [Approach] via a gully on the east right, gain some meadows, and hope that there is ice on the route. Can be prone to avalanche danger. We did the climb in about 4 pitches with some simul-climbing on the snow patches separating the ice sections. The first steep section of ice was not formed (pitch 2) so we traversed left along a ledge and climbed rock (maybe 5.7) to gain the snowfield above. Pitch 4 was the crux, a nicely forme...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Notchtop & vicinity Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Austin posing with the goods!
Austin posing with the goods!
Rock Climbing Photo: Windy day in the Notchtop area.
Windy day in the Notchtop area.
Rock Climbing Photo: NE Face of Notchtop on 23 Jan 07. Zoom in to see t...
BETA PHOTO: NE Face of Notchtop on 23 Jan 07. Zoom in to see t...

Comments on Notchtop & vicinity Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 10, 2010
By Brice W
Dec 2, 2001
12.2.01 - I didn't go to the base of any of these climbs, but here are some observations from the trail. Grace Falls looks like it is formed, though it looked quite thin. There were some short curtains on Odessa wall, but that was about it. Guide's wall looked fat. Jaws had one or two thin (1-2 feet?)ribbons coming down.
By Hamish Gowans
From: Golden, CO
May 3, 2002
"North Face" of Notchtop is in beautifully as of 4/28. Bring a few snow anchors and beware of avalanche. Dug a column and found no shearing in new snow but several sloughs came down from the top while climbing so stick to shelter (generally right side of climb). Huge cornice at top so climb early and climb fast. Also saw some possible ice/mixed of a more difficult nature around to climber's right side of "North Face" bowl, but Direct and Left routes were indiscernible.
By Paul Ivaska
Oct 29, 2002
Scouted out the North Face Route on Notchtop through binos on 10-28-02. The ice is in but looks pretty thin on the initial rock band. A cornice is forming up on the ridgeline above the route. Grace Falls are forming up, the Odessa Wall ice routes are not quite touching down yet and the Guide's wall is very thin. I saw some nice looking ice/snow gullies forming up on the south face of the Little Matterhorn. P.S. Looking for ice climbing partners interested in slogging/skiing into the Park this season. E-mail me at
By Thomas Jensen
Feb 12, 2003
Anyone been in to Notchtop? Seems there is always something in there to climb.
By Jeff St. Pierre
Feb 18, 2003
Sunday (2/16/03) we (my two friends, Sean, Sara, and myself) headed up Odessa trail, cut off to Ptarmagin Glacier. Climbed up the south edge of Ptarmagin Glacier, crossed Flattop and came down Tyndall Glacier. 5:30AM to 3:30PM car to car. Aesthetically pleasing route... not overly difficult. Sara had not done alpine snow before and she did fairly well. More details posted on Tyndall Gorge/Emerald Lake page.
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 5, 2003
I've been to Notchtop a couple times in the past 2-3 weeks. Grace falls is in but the ice was kind of rotten (3 weeks ago). [Guide's] Wall was also in as usual but [also aerated]. Odessa Wall is in and thin---looks good and hard. Beware of very unstable snow in the area. I saw the slope under Grace Falls slide.
By Jim D.
Sep 29, 2003
We scrambled up the Ptarmagin Glacier this weekend. All the alpine ice routes in the basin there look great. Spotty covering of dense snow over crampon friendly ice. The Hourglass gully (most westerly) is a bit more melted out than is typical at the rocky constriction of the Hourglass, but otherwise these icefields and the Ptarmagin are in the best shape they have been in years. Go get 'em before they are covered with new snow!

We scrambled up the Ptarmagin Glacier this weekend. All the alpine ice routes in the basin there look great. Spotty covering of dense snow over crampon friendly ice. The Hourglass gully (most westerly) is a bit more melted out than is typical at the rocky constriction of the Hourglass, but otherwise these icefields and the Ptarmagin are in the best shape they have been in years. Go get 'em before they are covered with new snow!
By Thomas Jensen
Feb 9, 2004
Grace Falls has several climbable lines. Pretty steep WI4ish Hot Doggies is good size but not touching down. Guide's Wall was empty.. Long slog for a decent day.
By Jim D.
Oct 9, 2004
On 10/8 we climbed the western gully of the Ptarmagin Fingers on the north side of Flattop Mtn. Trail was snow-free to 11,000'. On the route there was 1-3 feet of windloaded snow, most blown in during this past week (moderate avi danger?). It was a fun snow climb. We dug down once to put in an ice screw, otherwise we encountered no ice. Did not see any water ice forming yet on Notchtop, Odess or Guides wall. but, with moderate snow load around, some melting and freezing should get it going.
By jack roberts
Nov 22, 2005
My partner and I did the North Face of Notchtop today Tuesday, Nov. 22) and conditions were STELLAR! The snow conditions seem very stable. We never broke through the snow crust the entire way to the first rock band. Perfect crampon conditions. The ice over the first band is probably WI4- and in great shape. The following three pitches are fun WI3, M3. The ice isn't super thick so we didn't use anything longer than a 17cm screw. There is ice forming everywhere below the north face (Hot Doggies is IN, probably WI5/6) and the trail is hardpacked all the way to the NW chimney......GET AFTER IT! conditions like this don't last forever!
By OldsCool
From: Longmont, CO
Nov 20, 2006
Partner and I did NF Notchtop 11-19-06. Really hard first pitch (I thought) with thin ice/ hollow curtain and hard to get (where you wanted it) pro. Avalanche conditions did not seem that bad although the cornice, at one point, has a full curl with the "lip" touching the slope below it (maybe that's a good thing?) and (all the way up) you could see old crown faces where weaker slabs had pulled out. Snow was mostly wind packed with a soft(er) cramponable surface mixed with tightly wind packed power, except above the last ice pitch (which, BTW, was excellent), where it turned more "sugary" and offered no (real) pro what so ever in leading the final 200 feet to the top. This was somewhat disconcerting to do with our belay "anchor" consisting of 2 ice tools stabbed into a hummock of frozen turf (found good #1-#2 Camalot placements in rocks a bit above final ice WI3 pitch, put a cam in, but kept climbing until reaching our "Layton Kor anchor")
The 1st pitch was definitely the crux on this day and more time consuming than the ensuing pitches, the middle section went quickly with protected simul-climbing all the way to the base of the WI3 ice pitch. It may seem like a no-brainer, but putting harness on and gearing up prior to starting up the snow cone to the base of the first pitch will save you some hassle as its steeper up there than it appears.
Good luck up there-
By Stich
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 10, 2010
We went to check out the NE face of Notchtop on 1-10-2010 and found a large amount of unconsolidated snow covering the ice in most places. Only one column was visible from a distance.

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