ApproachSouth of Ouray Colorado (22miles but 1 hour travelling WHEN the road is open [warning, it often closes due to avalanche hazard] is the town of Silverton. As you turn off of Hwy 550 you will drive through Silverton drive along the river for about 7 miles driving through Howardsville until you reach the end of the road at Eureka. The area around Eureka is prone to have high or worse avalanche conditions
As you look to the right you will see Whore House Hoses (WI5 265m)
Walk up the snow covered road past the hotel. The first route you see on the left high up in the rock band is Bad Ass Pencil (WI5/6). You will then pass several mixed routes
about 1/2mile up the road you will get to on the left First Gully (WI3; 800ft) and Second Gully (listed as WI4 in both current books but is really WI3:800ft) and Gold Rush (WI4/5: 600ft bring rock and ice gear)
Across from First Gully but on the right side of the Valley (south) is Stairway to Heaven (WI4)
(1) Whore House Hoses (WI5)*** Walking up through a slot canyon you will reach a 10ft ice shelf (may be covered with avalanche debris), walk up and over the ice shelf reaching the base of the route. (with a 70m rope you can belay out of range of debris but with a 60m rope you will be right at the base of route) The first pitch is WI5 on the right and WI4/5 (depending on how early in the season it is)and is deceptively long (in excess of 200ft/60m ~65m long). After completing the long vertical section on the first pitch (~42m) there is a section of lower angle ice. Use caution here since the ice CAN be thin and hollow (it was approximately 1" thick when I did it and below it is running water) The top of the first pitch reaches a bolt belay station. From here, continue up left in the slot to the 2/3 pitches (WI4/5) which can be taken as one pitch with a long rope. Rappel the route (see picture below)
(2) Bad Ass Pencil (no description yet but will come shortly)
(3) First Gully (WI3) Info to be written shortly
(4) Second Gully (WI3)** A series of steps with the first and last one being the longest ( WI3) with a series of smaller steps in between the two (WI2+) connected by either snow covered ice (most probably) or ice steps. The descent is to the right at mid route, below t he final flow. From the top of the route traverse left to either rap into the gully from a tree with slings, descend to the walk-off ridge or descend through the trees to a slab- descend left towards the gully to the descent ridge.
(5) Goldrush (WI4/5 mixed 600ft) Is very seasonal dependent. In a good season can be thunker ice all the way to the top that can be taken in 3 long pitches. In othe seasons the first pitch can be completely devoid or partially devoid of ice for the first 100ft and involve drytooling/rockclimbing. Second pitch just below the second belay/rappel station can be devoid of ice or it can be thin. Take screws, cams, nuts and thin pitons. Route is descended by rappelling or if there is another party on the route, continue up the final slabs for about 500ft. Traverse left staying pretty high until you reach the Second Gully, gully drop down into the trees on the left side of the gully and travese to the descent on the right side. Drop down and traverse back to your packs.
(6) Stairway to Heaven (WI4:800ft) *** info to be written shortly
Essential GearFor all the routes, snowshoes of skiis if its snowed recently can be helpful in reaching the climbs.
(1) WHH (WI5): ice screw, slings and a long rope (60m will require a small bit of simuclimbing on pitch 1; or 70m)
(2) BAP (WI5/6)
(3) First and Second Gullys (screws and any length rope
(4) Goldrush depends on season- from screws only to screws, cams, nuts pitons. Double 60-70m ropes allow you to rap the route