“This climb is really OFF-LIMITS. Ascending this route causes the local climbers much angst with the Federales. So please, please stay off.” Not much of an excuse, but on my first trip down Camp Bird Road (spending most of my waterfall ice career in the Canadian Rockies) I had forgot my reading glasses. Both my partner and I being quite capable, we just started climbing ice. We warmed up on a route in the park, then we climbed Skylight (WI 5, M5) which seemed an obvious choice, and then on the way back down the road to our car, we noticed this obvious singular curtain up the gully from the parking area. We simply followed a well trodden snow trail to an often climbed (picked and stepped out) WI 4 fall. Senator Gulch had as much evidence of traffic as any of the routes on Camp Bird road. Later when I reviewed Jack Roberts Colorado Ice guide book, I discovered that even though he included all specifics of climbing the route, he prefaced it with the above comment. Exactly why the Feds prefer you not climb this waterfall, I cannot say. There does appear to be an old shaft mine of sorts at the base. No warning or trespassing signs were in place. It is quite possible it is no longer off limits.
The climb is rather insignificant and I advise staying off of it as there are so many other aesthetic climbs further up the road to choose from. However, like Mr. Roberts, I will include the photos and route description in case the route eventually becomes in-bounds or maybe already is.
From the parking area on Camp Bird road in the winter (4.5 miles from town on CR 361), Senator Gulch can be easily seen up the immediate western gully. Hike up the road past the gully and cut back right to skirt along the southern slope to the base of the climb. The guide book discusses rapping into the gully, but we did not find this necessary at all in January, 2011.
Route Description (s)35m’+/-, WI4-5/ The route gets a WI 4-5 rating. In January, the broad curtain increased in difficulty from left to right. We ran up the middle at an easy WI 4. There were several fresh abalakovs in place to rap from in January, again indicating its popularity despite the guide book warning. The guidebook indicates this as a 40m climb, but we easily rapped it with a 70m rope. It is closer to 30m than 40m tall.
DescentRap the route with a 70m rope.
Ouray Ice Park
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