The Spearhead (12,575-ft) resides in the heart of Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park. Overshadowed by a skyline of shapely peaks, The Spearhead is actually an extension of rugged ridge running north from the base of Chiefs Head Peak’s huge north face. The Spearhead’s triangular northeast face is the dominant feature in upper Glacier Gorge, (the area above Black Lake) rendering this special area a local name of “Spearhead Basin.” The unbroken, flowing slabs of granite rock set it a part from its higher neighbors. The Spearhead also has a fiercely exposed summit that overhangs 900 to 1000-ft above the basin floor. Many would argue that this is the most spectacular summit in the park and one of the best in all of Colorado.
Although I did not summit The Spearhead by a technical route, this mountain has a deserved reputation for its technical climbing; the North Ridge Route is widely considered the finest rock climb in Rocky Mountain National Park. The beauty of this climb is best described by Gerry Roach, This climb reminds me of why I started climbing in the first place. It is fundamental. It is magnificent. The climb takes place on such solid rock that you feel like you are touching the soul of the earth. Touch it. Climb it! The north ridge separates the vast, unbroken northeast face from the more broken northwest face.
The Spearhead also harbors a fun class 3 route with an exciting finish. The last 50 yards, will test your mental makeup for the route is very exposed.
Glacier Gorge OverviewThere is no other word that describes the enormity of the Glacier Gorge V-shaped valley better than “epic.” I thought long and hard looking for the right word. Words like “grandiose” or “awe-inspiring” first came to mind, but then I saw the view of McHenry’s Peak from Black Lake…that’s when “epic” was forever engraved in my head. I have climbed over 200 mountains in Colorado and right off the bat only the Pierre Lakes Basin (southeast side of Capitol Peak) rendered as much scenic beauty. I’m still giving the Pierre Lakes the nod but I never thought I would find a place that actually made me think twice.
The diverse landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park was created over a billion years ago and to present day displays some of nature's finest handiwork. The majority of Glacier Gorge’s scenic beauty came from powerful glaciers. These glaciers were formed when huge snowdrifts were compacted into ice by their own weight, thus freezing tons of rock and debris within its mass. Over the last 10,000 to 15,000 years, these glaciers slowly scraped and carved mountain summits into towering peaks, leaving behind a myriad of 1000-ft rock faces. These glaciers slowly continued to slide down the mountains leaving behind the perfect V-shaped valley we now know as Glacier Gorge.
There is not a better place to view the glacier evidence other than Black Lake. From here it’s obvious that a geologically powerful event took place for the enormity of it all is spectacular to view. From Black Lake an impressive collection of towering rock faces and pinnacles can be viewed, like The Arrowhead, McHenry’s Peak, The Spearhead, Pagoda Mountain, Chiefs Head and the Keyboard of the Winds.