The stunning Shelf Cirque is formed by 4 mountains and their connecting ridges. Clockwise they are: Arrowhead, McHenry's Peak, Powell Peak, and Thatchtop. Within the cirque lie Solitude Lake and Shelf Lake (and a bunch of ravenous marmots). You must pass through Shelf Cirque to reach McHenrys Notch Couloir, Hourglass Couloir, and is also the easiest approach to NE Ridge or Arrowhead Arete of McHenry's Peak.
Approach as for Black Lake, but approximately 1 mile after Mills Lake, look for a small meadow with a faint trail heading west. There may be a sign here now. Cross the creek and follow the faint trail straight up the hill to Shelf Lake.
Browse More Classics in Shelf Cirque
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Shelf Cirque:
Shelf Cirque Traverse Easy 5th Trad, Alpine, 19475 feet, Grade IV
McHenry's Notch Couloir 5.4 AI2 Mod. Snow Ice, Snow, Alpine, 1000 feet, Grade III
Featured Route For Shelf Cirque
Shelf Cirque Traverse Easy 5th CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Shelf Cirque
This has 4 summits, excellent exposure, tremendous views, and some climbing. Start at Solitude Lake. Climb Arrowhead. Traverse west on the McHenry's-Arrowhead ridge, and then climb the NE Ridge of McHenry's. Descend from the summit to the NW, then off the west side of the ridge to the upper reaches of the gully behind McHenry's Notch. 1 rap gets you into the gully. Climb Mt. Powell. Descend to the NW until you can drop on to the NE ridge that leads to Thatchtop. This ridge i...[more] Browse More Classics in CO