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Glacier Gorge

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A Walk in The Park 
Chiefshead Northeast Face 
Chiefshead Northwest Face 
Half Mountain 
McHenry's Peak 
Pagoda Mountain 
Shelf Cirque 

Glacier Gorge  

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Location: 40.2655, -105.64137 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Richard Rossiter on Oct 19, 2009






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Big stars under big walls in Glacier Gorge. Septem...


The west slope of Long's Peak drops 3000 feet into a rugged basin at the head of Glacier Gorge known as the Black Lake Cirque. Some of the most impressive walls and spires in Rocky Mountain National Park are found here towering above fields of wild flowers, ice-scoured slabs and jewel-like lakes comprising an alpine paradise of exceptional beauty (except for the mosquitoes). The rim of Glacier Gorge is formed by Half Mountain, Storm Peak and Long's Peak on the east; Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Mountain and Chief's Head Peak on the south; and by McHenry's Peak, Powell Peak and Thatchtop Mountain on the west. Spearhead and Arrowhead are satellite or island peaks within the rim of the gorge.

Getting There 

Begin from the Glacier Gorge Bus Stop (Trailhead) and follow the Glacier Gorge Trail to Black Lake. A useful shortcut branches right from the main trail just after the 4th stream crossing (about .55 mile) and regains the main trail just east of the Loch Vale Junction. As soon as you cross the log bridge over Icy Brook, you are in Glacier Gorge. This great trail continues to Mills Lake, Jewel Lake and eventually to Black Lake. From Black Lake the trail climbs along a beautiful cascade SE into the basin above Black Lake. From here, cairns indicate the line of least resistance into the upper cirque.

There is also a steep path that leads to Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. This trail (never built) breaks right from the Glacier Gorge Trail after about 4 miles in some old avalanche debris. Cross Glacier Creek on large flat boulders and the find the start to the trail in the trees. This is less than obvious.

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.3 miles from here

56 Total Routes

['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',22],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Glacier Gorge:
NE Ridge or Arrowhead Arete        Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1500'   McHenry's Peak
Shelf Cirque Traverse   Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c     Trad, Alpine, 19475'   Shelf Cirque
A Walk In The Park   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad, Alpine, 15'   A Walk in The Park
North Ridge   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches   Spearhead
Crescent Ridge   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 500'   Pagoda Mountain
North Buttress   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 1500'   Pagoda Mountain
West Ridge   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches   Pagoda Mountain
Glacier Gorge Traverse   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 5000'   Arrowhead
East Prow   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches   Spearhead
Rain Dance   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, Grade III   Arrowhead
Syke's Sickle   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 900'   Spearhead
The Barb   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches   Spearhead
7 Arrows   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R     Trad, Alpine, Grade IV   Chiefshead Northwest Face
Arrowplane   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 800'   Arrowhead
Birds of Fire   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1200'   Chiefshead Northwest Face
Cowboys and Indians   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, Alpine, Grade IV   Chiefshead Northeast Face
All Two Obvious   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a R     Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 800'   Spearhead
Airhead   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 600'   Arrowhead
Spear Me the Details   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 700'   Spearhead
Ithaca   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 800'   Arrowhead
Browse More Classics in Glacier Gorge

Featured Route For Glacier Gorge
The crux: Pagoda's West Ridge.

Glacier Gorge Traverse 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Arrowhead
This is the MEGA-COOL Ridge traverse of the Glacier Gorge cirque.Starting with Arrowhead and cruising the ridge crest all the way over to Long's. It's a great long day at altitude, with some wonderful and exposed scrambling/climbing. It incorporates a few classic routes, including the North Ridge of McHenry's (5.4?),the West Ridge of Pagoda (5.7), and the Southwest Ridge of Long's (5.6).There are several ways to run this ridge.I like to start at Arrowhead, and go counter-clockwise, ...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Glacier Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Looking down towards Black Lake.  Lots of snow for...
Looking down towards Black Lake. Lots of snow for...
Lots of rock to choose from in the Gorge.
Lots of rock to choose from in the Gorge.

Comments on Glacier Gorge Add Comment
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By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 14, 2012
Per the RMNP Backcountry Office, they finished chainsawing a trail through the deadfall on Glacier Gorge Trail two days ago. Looks like GG is open again!
By Rich Farnham
Aug 15, 2011
There is a very new-looking bridge on the hike into Spearhead. I didn't really pay attention to where it was, but near Mills Lake seems about right. We had no problem hiking into the cirque, so I'd assume that the bridge problem Ross describes has been fixed.
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