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Little Matterhorn

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Little Matterhorn 


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Submitted By: Mitch Musci on Sep 11, 2005
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Little Matterhorn from above Odessa Lake.

Description 

The Little Matterhorn is the impressive chunk of rock jutting from the far end of the eastern ridge of Knobtop Mountain. Its eastern flanks are strewn with large cliff bands, while its west ridge holds a nice 4th class scramble to the summit. It seems there is much exploring to be done on this peak, with only a couple of established routes to the summit...one being the west ridge and another documented in Gillett's High Peaks guide of the Northeast Face Direct (II, 5.7). A large cliff band below the east face harbors some impressive lines as well. If anyone else knows of other routes that have been established on this peak, please feel free to add them.


Getting There 

There are three ways to approach the Little Matterhorn, the first two of which start at Bear Lake.

The first (and shortest mileage) approach begins on the Odessa Lake trail. Hike 3 miles to Lake Helene, then branch off left onto the trail that circles the lake. Approximately 100 yards after crossing Lake Helene's outlet stream, look for an old trail (cairn) heading northwest (right) into Odessa Gorge. Follow many switchbacks down to a long meadow on the valley floor, cross the meadow and bust straight up the hillside, trending right higher up and aiming for the left side of a tree-covered ramp that contours right below Little Matterhorn's summit cliffs. This ramp can be followed all the way to the base of the north face if desired, but there are bouts of heavy bushwacking. Your best bet is to stay as high on the ramp as possible.

The preferred second approach takes the Odessa Lake trail from Bear Lake to Odessa Lake (3.6 miles according to my TOPO software). Circle the lake's north shore, then head up the inlet stream into Tourmaline Gorge. It is best to begin the ascent of the inlet stream 50 feet north (right) of where the stream enters the lake. Soon you will find a cairned climber's trail that continues fairly high into the gorge. Stick with the cairned trail which leads you up a small gully and onto a bench that can be easily followed to the base of the north face.

The third approach simply starts at Fern Lake Trailhead. 4.2 miles on trail brings you to Odessa Lake. Follow directions above.


4 Total Routes


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Featured Route For Little Matterhorn
Little Matterhorn and the Southeast Face route seen from the proximity of Lake Helene.

Southeast Face 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a  CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Little Matterhorn
This route is summarily described in Gerry Roach's guide to RMNP. A buttress descends in the southeast direction from the summit of Little Matterhorn. (That is from the high point at the far end of the ridge.) The route climbs easy slabs to the left of a large overhang that cuts across the base of that buttress. The slabs are about two pitches. (We didn't rope up for this section.)At the top of the slabs, move right to the base of the upper section of the buttress. From there, it's about 70...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

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Photos of Little Matterhorn Slideshow Add Photo
Little Matterhorn from the pass near Lake Helene. The first approach listed can be seen coming in from the left side of the photo, crossing the boulderfield, and climbing up to the tree-covered ramp below the summit cliffs.
Little Matterhorn from the pass near Lake Helene. ...
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