March, '02


Grace Falls, Notchtop Mountain

Rocky Mountain National Park



   This season I visited a new ice climbing area in the park called  Grace Falls. I hadn't been to this area sooner because all the information I had about this route made me think it was too hard for me to lead. The guidebooks called it a relatively narrow flow of WI4 ice running 100 meters up the side of Notchtop Mountain. What I found was an extremely wide flow of ice with a variety of difficulty levels.

    Lisa and I had originally planned to climb a route on Notchtop and as such, when the plan was changed to hike in with Guillaume and Jennifer to check this place out, I did not have all the gear I needed. Fortunately, I was able to borrow a pair of ice axes from a friend named Bob in Estes Park. Thanks brother. The significance of this being that Bob's axes have a new clip-style leash that is detachable.

    We had a  great day playing on different lines on the ice. Guillaume led the hardest line on the ice and we all took a turn on toprope. We also toproped a really hard M8? mixed climb where you had to climb overhanging rock with your axes and in crampons. I led one pitch of WI3 and managed to drop BOTH detachable leashes to the bottom of the cliff before I was finished. Of course, I didn't like this at all since now I had to hang on the to axe rather than let the wrist-leash take my weight.

    We played in this area all day without seeing anyone else. I guess 2 hour approaches have their advantages. :)


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Grace Falls. Jenny is approaching and Lisa and I are standing just left of the rock buttress in the middle of the ice.
Me leading.
Lisa climbing M4.
Jenny climbing WI4+
It snowed heavily toward the end of the day which made the hike back more interesting.