|Moraine Park/Fern Lake Trailhead
This is one of those routes that probably sees less traffic than most and appears to be insignificant, but it is actually a nice micro-adventure for those not needing something vertical or difficult to have fun.
It is a bit of a challenge to see this route while walking upstream (West), since it is tucked in a little notch. In fact, it's hard to assess the ice in the runnel from the trail. In the summer time, this would be obvious to find, because you'd walk across the water draining down the hill or hear the water...but in the winter, it is less obvious.
The approach up the iced up drainage can actually be kind of fun in boots without crampons, but the less-iced up slopes to the left may be more inviting for the new-to-the-sport folks.
Once up near the base, there is a good staging area to the left in the briars. Crampon up here and cross the ice flow. You can start from here, and it will be probably 70m+ to the top of the ice or you can wander up WI1 ice to where it steepens.
There is a fun runnel on the left with significant water flowing under it that makes the route. This section is probably 50 feet long. Alternatively, you can go up lower angle ice to the right. Above the runnel, you have another 40-50 feet of WI1 terrain where the ice is thinner.
There is a large tree with newly updated slings with rings perhaps 40-50 feet below the top of the ice.
From the winter parking area in Moraine Park, hike 0.7-0.8 miles to the Fern Lake trailhead. From there, you probably go another what feels like 3/4 mile to a drainage that, in low snow conditions, has ice dribbling down. In high snow conditions, it can be difficult to figure out which gully is the right one. Remember the appearance of the boulder/cairn photo below to be confident of the gully.
| || Cairn with the ice climb up and right. |
If you made it to where you can see Jaws, you need to go back downstream (East). There will be 2 dribbles of ice in the rocks higher up. This will be the 3rd dribble going back. It is closer to the trail.
Some ice screws, probably with 1-2 13 cm stubbies, a long sling or two to backup the anchor on the tree.
The granite of the left of the ice is rather compact and offered few rock protection opportunities.
Windy Gulch Cascades, 1/12/12.
This is the bit above the runnel.