Whorehouse Hoses is a popular backcountry waterfall ice route located near a deserted mining town area known as Eureka. Eureka really only has one remaining building (old jail) and is located north of Silverton, Colorado on Highway 110. During the winter months, the gravel road heading north out of Silverton dead ends at a backcountry trailhead which marks the spot of the old mining town. On the west slope are the intricate remains of the old ore mill. Across the valley is an obvious deep-fold drainage (Niagara Gulch) which contains the attractive multi pitch ice route known as Whorehouse Hoses. Where the IV alpine grade comes in via Jack Roberts Colorado Ice guide book is a mystery to me. The approach to the base of the route takes at most a 20-30 minute hike from your vehicle and the actual climbing itself only involved two roped pitches for our team. The WI 4-5 grade is on target regarding the first 200’ fall you come to. The right side was approaching WI 5 in January of 2011. The left side was an easy WI 4 with the center somewhere in between.
From Silverton, take hwy 110 north of town. It turns into a plowed gravel road as it leaves town. It dead ends into a trail head in Eureka which really only has one remaining building. Walk back across the bridge towards Niagara Gulch which contains an obvious drainage on the east side of the creek. Walk north and cut up the hill just past the Niagara Gulch entrance and trend back right making your way into it and up to the base of the first fall which is in a bowl-type setting and is the meat of the route.
Route Description900’+/-, WI 4-5/ With 70m double ropes, we easily reached a fixed belay/rap in one long pitch (the money pitch) on the left side of the bowl. We then soloed up an easy and narrow gully on our right (passing rap rings fixed to the wall on the right at the top of the chute) into another large bowl. The next fall was the second most interesting pitch and we also climbed it on the left side as the right was a bit thin with some running water in the middle (January). A fixed station again is located on the left wall. A guided party ahead of us quit there and indicated that is where most locals do stop. We continued up a snow gully and soloed one more short thin pitch (WI 3) higher up. From that point we were close to the col/shoulder of the mountain. You can walk off this last pitch from either side, but the west side seemed a bit tamer. Rap the remaining route via three raps.
Walk off the very top pitch. Single raps for the next two pitches (70m rope). Then a double (minimum 60’s) rap back to the base of the route. First fixed rap is on the right, second is on the left, third is on the right again.
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