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Glacier Gorge
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All Mixed Up T 
Aquavelva - aka Headdress - aka Chickens on Ice? T 
Big Mac Couloir 
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Hourglass Couloir, The 
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Snow Bench (McHenry's Peak) 
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Yellow Tears 

Big Mac Couloir 

WI4- M4-

   
Type:  Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1200', Grade IV
Consensus: WI4- M4- [details]
FA: Joe Hladick and Scott Kimball, 1979
Season: Winter
Page Views: 6,569
Submitted By: Chris Sheridan on Jan 30, 2007

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Leading out on our third pitch. The snow was quite...

Description 

This route climbs a prominent couloir system on the northeast face of McHenry's peak. If you're lucky enough to catch the face in good conditions the climbing is reportedly somewhat moderate at M4-. However, conditions I've encountered have been a grade or so harder. The climbing tends to be more of a mixed snow and rock route without much ice. The somewhat remote location, length, and proximity to other routes (for enchaining) make this route an excellent venue for some adventure climbing.

One obvious enchainment option is to climb the West Gully of Black Lake followed by this route, or another on the same face. Another less obvious option would be to climb the Hourglass Couloir on Arrowhead. The easterly descent of which would put you right at the base of this face.

Catching this route in perfect conditions may be tough. Both times I've been on the face, late January and early March have yielded tough conditions. However, the route is still very enjoyable when the cards aren't all in your favor.

Location 

Start at the base of short slab which forms a weakness in the initial rock band on the north east face.

Protection 

An alpine rock rack with a few screws, pins, and two specters, the latter being key for the many frozen turf sections.


Photos of Big Mac Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
Eric Harvey polishing his skills, and dulling his front points on the first pitch of Big Mac Couloir.  Photo taken 1/27/07.
Eric Harvey polishing his skills, and dulling his ...
Eric Harvey leading the first pitch after Big Mac Couloir diverges from Snow Bench.  Eric's next lead got us through the difficult rock band at the center of the route.
Eric Harvey leading the first pitch after Big Mac ...
Gil following pitch 4.
Gil following pitch 4.
Chris Sheridan happy to get a good stick in frozen turf after a short dry tooling section on the Big Mac Couloir.
Chris Sheridan happy to get a good stick in frozen...
Chris Sheridan negotiating the second overhang of the crux pitch of our chosen route.  We climbed this variation to avoid a smooth slab with a thin dusting of powder that usually holds enough snow for easy step kicking.  That, and it was really fun.
Chris Sheridan negotiating the second overhang of ...
Typical mixed rock and grass/moss climbing in the couloir.
Typical mixed rock and grass/moss climbing in the ...
Eric Harvey en route to the Big Mac Couloir on 1/27/07, having just climbed the West Gully of Black Lake. Photo by Chris Sheridan.
Eric Harvey en route to the Big Mac Couloir on 1/2...
This photo, taken from the Black Lake - West Gully page shows the Big Mac Couloir as climbed by myself and Eric Harvey on January 27th and 28th.  Our route differs somewhat from the standard as poor snow conditions caused us to choose rock variations to many pitches.
BETA PHOTO: This photo, taken from the Black Lake - West Gully...
Leading pitch 5 through the rock band. This pitch was the crux of our line.
Leading pitch 5 through the rock band. This pitch ...
Bailing w/ pride from the P1 variation to Snow Bench/Big Mac. This pitch was SICK!! Strongly Recommended!! It's up in the corner above the normal 1st pitch. I put this under Big Mac b/c it's more fitting for that route given its difficulty (~AI4+/WI4/M4?) and scrappy nature. <br /> <br />Photo by Buster Jesik.
Bailing w/ pride from the P1 variation to Snow Ben...
25MAY08 Conditions showing ice of Big Mac and route to its right. <br />--Ross
BETA PHOTO: 25MAY08 Conditions showing ice of Big Mac and rout...
On the approach after soloing West Gully.
On the approach after soloing West Gully.

Comments on Big Mac Couloir Add Comment
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By Caelan
From: Dysfunctional, CO
Nov 10, 2007

B. Gillett and C. Burns both call these routes Grade III, but I respectfully disagree. If the Casual Route on The Diamond is Grade IV, and AMU and the NE Face of Notchtop are Grade III, then these routes seem like they should be Grade IV. Mind you, that's Winter routes vs. a Summer route (e.g. apples vs. oranges), but seriously, the McHenry's/Arrowhead Cirque is both Gi-normous and very far away. Expect a ~16 hr day (which can be difficult in the Winter months) or break it up into 2 days.
By Ross
From: Pinewood Springs
May 26, 2008

Around 2005 time frame we encounter the upper part of the 4th pitch as a detached wall of ice debris, very scary.

If the second pitch has no ice then crossing the large snow band is 80-90m with no rock pro.
By Gil Weiss
Apr 10, 2009

Beta, photos, trip report, and video pullharder.org/2009/03/25/the-...