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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 from the tree at the top down to the ledge on the right. 1 more 90' rap will get you to the ground. 2 ropes would be safest. Park at the Fern Lake trailhead and hike west along the trail to Odessa Gorge. You can't help but notice Jaws on you right about 2 miles up the trail from the parking area in 2002. Information in some climbing guides will give distances based on a parking area further up the road, but this was closed to vehicle traffic in the winter of 2002. Use "Colorado Ice Climber's Guide" by Cameron Burns - 1997 or "Rocky Mountain National Park - The High Peaks" by Richard Rossiter - 1997 as an example of references. Enjoy.
Bring a rack of ice screws. If the ice on the 1st pitch is thin, bring a little gear.
Eds. Note, this climb can be quite variable if it is a sunny day. Beware, this climb has been known to fall down in less than a day. However, it does go into the shade in the later afternoon.
BETA PHOTO: Can you say THIN?
Jubal Smith plays with the falling ice on Jaws.
Dan loves his ice axes.
Mark Regier leading the first pitch of Jaws.
Too warm, stuff was coming down like clockwork.
The falls are looking very thin on 1/4/04. There ...
Jaws on January 15, 2005
Ron climbing the WI4 section of the first pitch.
Jaws - 2/13/05 - Melting Away
BETA PHOTO: Jaws as of 12/22/07.
BETA PHOTO: 12.31.2007 Beta pic.
"Jaws"... You can see how the climb gets its name.
BETA PHOTO: Conditions as of 1/11/8. 8 climbers on 1/11/8, 13...
BETA PHOTO: Jaws - 17 Jan 08
BETA PHOTO: Jaws Falls - February 4th, 2008
BETA PHOTO: Jaws on 2/9/2008
On the Jaws (1/17/07). Photo by Shileikis's buddy...
Aaron climbing a 'tooth on Jaws (1/17/08).
BETA PHOTO: Jaws Falls as of 12/21/2008
Leading the steep right side.
Photo: Rick Witting.
Wet and brittle conditions, 1/29/12.
|By Julian Smith|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Feb 5, 2002
Sorry, but I forgot to mention the sun. If you find yourself basking in warm sunshine at the base of the climb, bear in mind that large, exciting blocks of ice will exfoliate from the upper part of the route from time to time.
|By Dougald MacDonald|
Aug 31, 2002
When Jaws is thin, but still cold and safe, there can be a terriffic mixed line on the right side. Look for a cracky, corner thing through a steep bulge on the right side of the big curtain. You'll know you're in the right place if you get good pro. Short but very steep cranking off good tool placements in the crack lead to easier ground. Good pro, too. About M5-M6 when I did it.
|By Christopher Roberts|
Jan 10, 2003
I was up at Jaws yesterday 1/9/2003 and the bottom part of the falls is not in at all the top part is kind of in. You can hike around back and lower someone in and get about 50 feet of climbing or if you are a mixmaster the bottom would go.
|By Brice W|
Aug 7, 2008
In fat conditions (like winter 2007-08) this felt 3+, about the same as Pumphouse in Vail, but longer. Great route, it goes in a nice long pitch. Traversing over to the tree rap anchor at the top was a bit exciting as my last screw was way below me. There is a small, but decent ledge to traverse on, but I didn't find many good pick or hand holds.
|By Brice W|
Jan 25, 2010
As of Jan 2010, there is an intermediate anchor consisting of two beefy bolts in the rock 30m up. The anchor is on the left as you climb or rap.