Friday Night: Approach to camp: 4.5 miles and 1600 vertical feet gained from Wild Basin trailhead. Headed up towards Ouzel falls and continued along the thunder lake trail.
Saturday: Approach to Ice Base: 800 vertical feet gained to first ice fall (WI 3–4) + 200 vertical feet to the second falls (WI 3–4) – Joe’s Route Page on Mountain Project - http://www.mountainproject.com/v/colorado/co_ice__mixed/rmnp__mixedice/106736045
Sunday: Ski out
Joe wanted to head up for a weekend to get some sled dragging practice in for Denali and I jumped on the bandwagon although I know little about ice climbing and even less about handling the cold. There’s always plenty to learn and plenty of perspective to be had from such an endeavor though… (Regular life doesn’t seem so hard after a trip like this!).
The plan was to pack in to a camp spot on the banks of N. St. Vrain Creek on Friday night and head up to Eagle Lake on Saturday where we’d scope out some ice and possibly ski down. Approach to camp plotted by Joe…
The Approach (c) Joe
At ~5:30PM Joe set out dragging Lou Dawson’s sled loaded with ~80lbs of camping / climbing gear. I followed so I could help carry it across dry patches of which there were many in the first half hour or so of hiking.
Dragging the sled
We reached our campsite near the creek at about 8:30PM and were soon set up and had dinner ready… word of advice… when you approach Mt. House - “Mexican Style Beef” taco wraps at the food aisle at REI, keep walking and pick up some Buffalo Chicken instead.
Mt. House Buffalo Chicken taco wrap - Good $h!t
We went to bed at around 11PM with a plan to start early.
We woke up at 6:40AM and went back into our bags for a few more winks. Our shameless asses finally rolled out of the tent at 8:30AM, ate and set out up the creek at around 9:30AM. Approach to Eagle Lake from camp…
Approach to Eagle Lake (c) Joe
Starting up N. St. Vrain Creek (c) Joe
The creek was covered by collapsing snow and frail snow bridges… crevasse simulation. However, we made our way safely up the creek and angled left up a valley, following a stream fed by Eagle Lake.
Approaching Eagle Lake (c) Joe
As we approached tree line at Eagle Lake old man wind picked up his stinky britches and rushed headlong at us tripping over his obscenely long beard with fair regularity. His shenanigans obscure the view of Eagles’ Beak in the following picture.
Eagle Lake (c) Joe
The first ice flows (http://www.mountainproject.com/v/colorado/co_ice__mixed/rmnp__mixedice/106736057) showed themselves. I wanted to call these something lame like the ‘Eagle’s Talons’ but Joe prefers to call it Lower Eagle Lake Ice.
Lower Eagle Lake Ice
Joe led a few different laps up the lower flow and I followed and cleaned.
Leading the Lower Flow 1
Leading the Lower Flow 2
Following the Lower Flow 1 (c) Joe
We walked across the top of the flow and down an adjacent couloir back down to the base…
Walkoff (c) Joe
The weather was patchy on ensuing pitches… gusts of wind came in and out… apart from the annoying wind, the climbing was a blast. The sun stayed hidden. Temps weren’t too low, but clothes didn’t stay dry either so that didn’t help much. Joe leads another lap… see the sun?
Leading the Lower Flow 3
And I followed…
Following the Lower Flow 2 (c) Joe
Looking up the walk off at Joe…
The second upper flow (Eagle’s Wing) was the next stop…
Eagle's Wing 1 (c) Joe
The avy terrain one has to traverse to get to its base (along with the super long approach of course) in mid-winter serve as a fine chastity belt for this virgin flow.
Eagle's Wing Approach (c) Joe
On this day we traversed ice coated with an inch or two of fresh… a little spicy from time to time. We parked at the base and Joe took off up the flow…
Eagle's Wing Lead 1
Eagle's Wing Lead 2
The ice was fat and made for good climbing.
Eagle's Wing Follow (c) Joe
Eagle's Wing 2 (c) Joe
The skiing was better…
Ski 1 (c) Joe
Ski 2 (c) Joe
The weather which had eased up briefly came back with a vengeance and we scrammed… The descent through slushy snow in the trees was painful with gaping holes in the snow covered creek threatening to swallow us any minute. Thoughts of food and warm sleeping bags eased the pain some…
Minefields over N. St. Vrain Creek (c) Joe
We slept soundly and packed out. The sled misbehaved and exposed its hindquarters every time an unassuming hiker passed us on the way up, but we managed to get out in a decent amount of time. There were a few hundred yards of carrying to be done but we got it done and headed off to civilization in the form of Chipotle. There was no beta to be found on these flows prior to our trip… if anyone knows of prior posted beta please let us know. Thanks.