|Route Type:||Hiking, Ice Climbing|
|Time Required:||Half a day|
|Number of Pitches:||1|
Chipeta Falls is a natural waterfall that drops in the Morrow Point Reservoir, just past the dam for Blue Mesa Reservoir. It is located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area, some say Black Canyon, but that is still a few miles further west. This area is isolated and it is a perfect waterfall if you desire solitude. The approach trail and the whole location of the climb is very scenic. The climb can be top roped.
Curecanti National Recreational Area bears the imprint of attempts to alter these rugged mesas and canyons for human purposes. The most recent major alteration was the construction of three dams on the Gunnison River to provide irrigation and hydroelectric power. These damps have transformed this semiarid locale into a water based recreation mecca. Blue Mesa serves as the main storage reservoir. Blue Mesa Reservoir is 20 miles long. Morrow Point Dam generates most of the power, and Crystal Dam maintains an even flow though the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Curecanti National Recreation Area borders Black Canyon of the Gunnison as mentioned above. This area has many hiking trails in the summer, and many ice climbs in the winter. It is also very popular fishing destination.
Chipeta Falls are named after wife of a famous Ute Chief Ouray.
Curecanti was a name of a Ute Indian sub-chief who roamed southern Colorado from 1860s to 1870s.
The waterfalls are easy to visit in the summer. You can take a scenic Morrow Point Boat Tour and ride through the upper Black Canyon (again, technically Black Canyon does not start until past all 3 dams) that takes you past this waterfall. Chipeta Falls drop about 160 feet.
The main Waterfall Ice is about 50 merters long. We did not count the three small, cca 10 meter long bulges of WI2-3 above the main waterfall as climbing. These bulges do not form consistently and sometimes there are only short rock walls above the main waterfall. The lower section of the Chipeta Falls is flat dropping into the reservoir, and often covered with snow. The main waterfall of WI3+ is 50 meters long, could be steeper for a short section early in the season.
Anchors: 2 bolts at the top were in a good condition.
There are also anchors (2 bolts) above the main icefall - on the left side of the canyon when descending - those are very handy to reach the main anchors right above the main flow of Chipeta Falls if one wishes to rappel in.
The return took about 40 min, it is all up hill, and many icy sections were covered with snow, which made it very slippery. We had no problems to solo climb over those 3 bulges to get back to the trail. These bulges are not very exposed.
Leading: you need two ropes to rappel down. Ice screws. Screamers/slings.