Some Colorado ice climbing.
West Gully is a 3-pitch ice climb in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It is located above Black Lake, roughly a 5.5-mile hike from the trailhead. It’s pretty far back there.
Still, worthy prey justifies the hunt!
West Gully RMNP
Where: Black Lake Ice. Start at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.
De-proach: Way longer.
Grade: WI4, III
This report: 12/9/2020
I took a GoPro Hero 8 camera out on this expedition, but did not use a helmet mount. So no action shots. Still, I found the little camera packs quite a punch! I have included a few 4K videos. (affiliate link).
As far as climbing gear, we used 2x 70-meter 8.1 Beal Ice Line Ropes. The axes shown in the video are Cassin X-Dream Alpine ice tools. We climbed the route with our full mountaineering packs on our backs, since we planned to walk off and not return to the base of the icefall.
And a short video from the top!
From the top of the climb, we walked off towards Spearhead, a nearby peak which has some stellar summer rock climbing routes. The walk-off offered unforgettable scenery in the shadow of Longs Peak…
objectively, it was a miserable bushwhack, with blowing wind and plenty of tedious postholing in soft untracked snow. It took us two hours to reach the base of the climb in the morning, and almost three hours to return to the shores of Black Lake AFTER finishing the climb!
The ice was too thin to rappel with v-threads.
Everything went great for us on this climb! There were minimal dangerous moments, we moved with rhythm and control and our time was respectable.
- This is an excellent route to attempt if you are a competent ice climber wanting to test your skills at altitude (3,232 meters) and after a long approach. Start early!
- In mid-winter conditions I would carefully evaluate the avalanche risk. This has been an exceptionally dry year in Colorado, with record-breaking wildfires this summer, and really minimal snowfall so far this winter. As you can see from the photos, there’s not much snow present. The ice quality was ok. Thin and thoughtful in places.
- That GoPro takes very cool video. I may have to start bringing it along more often.
- However, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the film camera. The final photo below was taken on film. Note the different feel, color grading, and film grain compared with the sharp, cold feel of the GoPro.
- And finally…
All photography and video my own personal works. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared on Medium.com.