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US Highway 550
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Horsetail Falls 

WI4-5

   
Type: Trad, Ice, 4 pitches, 500', Grade II
Consensus: WI4 [details]
FA: a chipmunk
Season: low avalanche conditions
Page Views: 3,836
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Feb 13, 2002
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BETA PHOTO: Late January, 2007. Shot from bridge over Bear Cr...

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Description 

This is a classic moderate. Despite this being technically much easier than it looks, your back may ache from being bent over on the middle section.

Make sure the snow conditions are stable. Drive up (south) on US Hwy 550 from Ouray to the Bear Creek bridge. There is a 15 minute descent to the base. The route is east-facing. It is in the sun from 9a-12pm.

P1. The 1st pitch (crux) is 140 feet long and can be 3+-5 depending on the line. The easiest line is on the left. Belay to the side perhaps on rock gear.

P2. The 2nd pitch is low angle WI2 which keeps you bent over.

P3. There is a short 3rd pitch that can be made to base of last ice curtain. Use a tree belay.

P4. The last pitch is WI3ish to a tree belay.

We rappelled 160 feet and then walked off left to base of climb. This has a nice position.


Protection 

Screws, pins or rock gear for the 1st belay if you don't want to be in the line of fire. Screws for the rest.



Photos of Horsetail Falls Slideshow Add Photo
Steve Berwanger approaching Horsetail Falls.
Steve Berwanger approaching Horsetail Falls.
Got sluffed...terrain trap?
Got sluffed...terrain trap?
1st pitch of Horsetail Falls.
1st pitch of Horsetail Falls.
Conditions 2/14/96.  Note, mostly easy (WI2-3) ice after the 1st pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Conditions 2/14/96. Note, mostly easy (WI2-3) ice...
Spring 2003.
Spring 2003.
Not an action shot but another view of the route from US 550, south of the bridge.
Not an action shot but another view of the route f...
Light flurries caught up to us.
Light flurries caught up to us.
Me getting very wet on pitch 1.
Me getting very wet on pitch 1.
Comments on Horsetail Falls Add Comment
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By Brice W
Feb 19, 2002

We climbed Horsetail on Sunday, Feb 17. We soloed up the low angle ramp to a small ledge on the left of the flow. From there, it felt like WI3+ for about 40 feet, then the angle eased off. The ice was dinnerplating some. This start allows you to climb about 185 feet to a nice snow ledge for the first pitch, but your belayer is exposed to falling ice from the first part of the climb. From the snow ledge, we climbed another pitch up low angle ice steps and snow sections to the large snow bench below the final steeper section. The angle was similar to the first pitch, but the ice was plastic and incredible. After 45 or 50 feet of ice and 100 feet of snow, we topped out. We followed a trail down to a tree with slings. One single rope rappel down a gully/chimmney put us at the base of the climb. A great route.

By evan freeman
From: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Feb 13, 2003

Horsetail is in but was running with water on 14 Feb. The lower (steepest) part is at best an easy class 4, if not a 3.