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Loch Vale & uphill
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Unsorted Routes:

Northwest Face Route - Thatchtop or Northeast Gully? 

WI3-4

   
Type:  Trad, Ice, 5 pitches, Grade III
Consensus: WI3-4 [details]
FA: unknown
Season: All Winter
Page Views: 6,364
Submitted By: Julian Smith on Apr 6, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (19)
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Approaching p2 belay.

Description 

The Northwest Face of Thatchtop flows down a deep cleft to the left of Deep Freeze in Loch Vale. It is 1000 feet of mainly snow slogging with a short section of steep ice climbing where the gully changes direction. The ice is hidden from view, but is usually in. It is a good alternative to Deep Freeze or Necrophilia if you have made the trudge for something that is not in.

Approach this route as for Deep Freeze or Necrophilia. When you climb up to the Loch, turn left and head uphill across snow slopes. There are some terrain features to cut down on the avalanche danger. Allow 2 hours for the approach.

As you approach Deep Freeze, look for a deep cleft on the left. Continue uphill into the cleft on snow and ice. About halfway up the gully a nice wall of ice will appear on the right.

Climb up the steep ice for a few feet.

Trudge up more snow slopes and rolling sections of low angled ice to the end of the ice. This route can be continued up to the summit of Thatchtop, but you are still a long way from the top.

Descent - either continue up from the top of the route to the summit of Thatchtop or rappel the route. Find slung blocks and maybe some fixed pins to rappel off of.

See Colorado Ice Climbers Guide by Cameron Burns - 1997 or Rocky Mountain National Park - The High Peaks by Richard Rossiter - 1997 as some references. Enjoy.

Protection 

Take along a varied selection of ice screws as well as some pitons and a little rock gear.


Photos of Northwest Face Route - Thatchtop or Northeast Gully? Slideshow Add Photo
The WI 3 first pitch that consists mainly of snow ...
The WI 3 first pitch that consists mainly of snow ...
Following the last pitch on a gloomy day. Photo: R...
Following the last pitch on a gloomy day. Photo: R...
Exit pitch on 11/07/09.
BETA PHOTO: Exit pitch on 11/07/09.
The start of the first ice pitch.
The start of the first ice pitch.
Brent approaching the first belay.
Brent approaching the first belay.
The first pitch in fat conditions. The approach in...
BETA PHOTO: The first pitch in fat conditions. The approach in...
Chris following up the second snow pitch to the ne...
Chris following up the second snow pitch to the ne...
Approaching p3 belay.
Approaching p3 belay.
One of multiple choices to finish.
One of multiple choices to finish.
1st Pitch on 11/07/09
BETA PHOTO: 1st Pitch on 11/07/09
Yet, another one of multiple choices to finish.
Yet, another one of multiple choices to finish.
First pitch as of Nov. 4, 2012. Fat conditions for...
BETA PHOTO: First pitch as of Nov. 4, 2012. Fat conditions for...
The approach gully.
The approach gully.
Looking up at the third pitch.
Looking up at the third pitch.

Comments on Northwest Face Route - Thatchtop or Northeast Gully? Add Comment
Show which comments
By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Oct 30, 2004

For conditions like we found 10/30/4, 5 screws including a couple of 13 cm, cams black Alien to a 0.75 Camalot, #3 Camalot, a few wires & a LA are useful. All rock anchors. If you belay the whole bugger, expect a 110-130 ft P1, 200ft P2, 200ft P3, 250 ft P4 (simul or break it up). P2-4 are quite low angle. Last pitch has running water under it, beware for hitting a spigot to douse yer rope. Note, there don't seem to be good anchors at the top to trust to rap. Per Omar's suggestion, we found the descent gully down & to the L (cairn at the top) from the top reasonable, a bit loose, with an ok 100-120 ft rap to avoid downclimbing ice. It connected to the base of P1.
By Scott Bower
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jan 25, 2006

An alternative descent is to follow the Ridge of Thatchtop down to the East. Look for the entrance to a gully (the S gully) And follow it down. If you arrive at a dropoff with a view down to Mills Lake, you are too far to the South.

This gully is the summer route up Thatchtop and is best used early in the season before it fills in with deeper snow. It will deposit you at the base of Mixed Feelings, just in case you're ready for more climbing.
By Greg Sievers
From: Estes Park, CO
Dec 10, 2007

When the (start) chimney pitch of Deep Freeze is being a nasty bugger, and the tunnel is choked with endless sugar; this first WI3 pitch makes a great way to access Deep Freeze. The broad terrace safely traverses to the right and is an easy walk when dry. Even with snow, it was easy to simul. climb. It will deliver you in the gully below the WI4 pitch of Deep Freeze. Enjoy.
By Martin le Roux
From: Superior, CO
Nov 5, 2012

Climbed this on Nov. 4, 2012. Lots of ice and hardly any snow.

We started down the descent gully mentioned by Leo Paik, but it was very loose and we changed our minds. If you need to get back to the base of the 1st pitch, then it might be better to bring double ropes and rap the route. There are rap slings in place most of the way up.

We ended up going down the way described by Scott Bower. For those with compasses, note that you start by heading NE (not E), and the gully drops down to the N, not S.
By Richard Rossiter
Nov 21, 2013

I think the route described here is the Northeast Gully. The Northwest Face route is way around to the right of Upper Wall, above Lake of Glass, and is somewhat easier (II WI3). FA: R. Grange and R. Greenman, 1981. See Greg Sievers' photo under Deep Freeze.

Martin le Roux's comments on the "South Gully" are correct. This is the standard peak bagger’s route to the summit of Thatchtop, normally climbed during summer. It descends to the north, passes right under Mixed Emotions, and has been called the Regular Route for a very long time. See The High Peaks, DuMais, 1981, page 121. The route is also described in A Climber's Guide to the Rocky Mountain National Park Area, Fricke, 1971, page 100.