Goldrush WI 4+

Page Type Page Type: Route
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI 4/5
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
Sign the Climber's Log


Goldrush WI 4/5 Goldrush WI 4/5
Goldrush is another classic located in Eureka, just outside the historic town of Silverton. This route is located 300 feet up valley from the Second Gully. It follows a huge left facing corner. Both Jack Roberts in his Colorado Ice and Cameron Burns in his Colorado Ice Climber's Guide recommend to bring a rock gear, especially for the first pitch. I have climbed the route in 2013/14 season and the whole icefall was very fat and nicely in, no rock gear was needed. 
You can check for the current ice conditions on San Juan Mountain Guides website
Eureka is a mining ghost town along the Animas River between Silverton and Animas Forks. The town got its start in 1860 when a small group of miners began to dig and pan around the banks of the Animas River. The train service came to town in 1896. The Sunnyside mill was the main economic source for the town. When the mill closed in 1938, Eureka was no more. What are left are foundations that climb the mountain sides reminders of the town that was. 
The area around Eureka is a popular ice climbing destination, with multi pitch climbs ranging from WI3 to WI5. Please see other routes described on SP: Whorehouse Hoses WI 4-5 (my favorite, and also on the Top of 100 Ice Climbs in the World per Guy Lacelle), Stairway to Heaven WI 4+ (more difficult than Second Gully), First Gully WI 3 (easy rolling ice), and Second Gully WI 4.
Elevation in Eureka: 9,862 feet (=3,006 meters). The Goldrush is another 150 feet higher in elevation (just over 10,000 feet). 
Nice place to stay in Eureka: Eureka Lodge (former Outward Bound Hotel).
Always check avalanche conditions before venturing in this area: Northern San Juan Avalanche Forecast

Getting There

Sunrise, Eureka Sunrise, Eureka
Approach to 1st and 2nd Gully Approach to 1st and 2nd Gully, and Goldrush
From the Main Street in Silverton, continue onto good dirt road - Hwy 110 - which is snowplowed for the first 9 miles. (I would like to mention that both maps and guidebooks call the road 110, but when passing through Silverton, 110 will take you to the Silverton Ski Area, so turn right onto the County Road 2). Park at the large parking lot on the west side of the road. There is a dry toilet (hard to access in the winter since the door gets often buried in the snow, and if the door is accessible the toilet tends to be very dirty).  You can see Stairway to Heaven WI4 from the parking lot if you look northeast - it is the largest ice pathway on the western slopes of Peak 13,419. You can also catch a glimpse of Whorehose Hoses WI4/5 if looking east from the parking lot. First Gully WI3 is located on the opposite site of the valley and about 0.1 miles further away. Second Gully is another 500 feet up the road, and before Goldrush WI4
Approach is on the snow road, which is usually packed hard with snowmobiles and snow cat (this is the approach for Eureka Lodge, formerly known as Outward Bound Hotel). Skis or snowshoes are not needed on the approach. You will get great views of the Stairway to Heaven climb. Continue past Stairway to Heaven, and look to your left. Pass First Gully, and the next large gully - Second Gully. The route is located 300 feet north = up valley from the Second Gully. Total distance hiking distance from Eureka Gulch Bridge is 1.25 miles (from parking lot less than a mile). 
Eureka is an abandoned mining community nine miles northeast of Silverton on Hwy 110. Highway 110 is a bit misnomer, as it is an unpaved road that connects Silverton to Lake City via Cinnamon Pass. The first section of the road is well maintained and accessible by low clearance 2WD vehicles. The road is kept open even in the winter to Eureka Gulch parking lot. There is a nice cross country ski trail leading along this road and Animas River. This road is very scenic in the summer and is part of the Scenic Alpine Route over the San Juans

Route Description

Approach Time: 15 min
Season: late fall (sometimes you can drive all the way to the road just below the climb early in the season), winter hike in 1.25 miles
Access Issue: none
Pitch 1: low angle and slightly rolling ice climbing, 60 meters long. We encountered good conditions with a thick ice, but early in the season expect very thin ice and sometimes mixed climbing. WI4 with a short section of WI5
Pitch 2: 55 meters of mostly WI4, scenic climbing 
Pitch 3: 40 meters with several variations possible, we chose a steeper ice WI4 with a short section of WI5. 
Descent: 3 double 60 meter rope rappels from fixed anchors. 
Some Images from Climbing Goldrush:
Steep approach Steep approach
Goldrush WI 4/5 Goldrush WI 4/5 - pitch 1
Goldrush WI 4/5 Goldrush WI 4/5 - pitch 2
Goldrush WI 4/5 - pitch 3 Goldrush WI 4/5 - pitch 3
Descent Descent

Ice Climbs in Eureka

The whole area of Eureka is a popular ice climbing destination. Goldrush is one of the classic climbs in the area. Below are photos of some of the more popular ice climbs at Eureka. 
SP site for Eureka - click here.
Second Gully and Goldrush Second Gully WI3 and Goldrush WI4, Eureka Colorado. 
Stairway to Heaven  Stairway to Heaven  WI4
Whorehouse Hoses WI5 Whorehouse Hoses WI4/5
First Gully WI3 First Gully WI3
Across the valley View of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Highway to Hell" 
Bad Ass Pencil WI5/6 Bad Ass Pencil WI5
Highway to Hell WI4 Highway to Hell WI4+ 
Hoser's Highway WI5 Hoser's Highway WI5

Essential Gear

  • Crampons
    Set of Ice screws Set of Ice screws
  • Ice tools
  • Harness
  • Helmet (is a must, tons of ice falling down the gully, especially if another party is climbing above you)
  • Full rack of ice screws, consider rock gear early in the season or if ice conditions poor
  • Draws/screamers
  • Belay device
  • Ropes: two 60 meter ropes
  • Always good to carry v-thread material (v-thread tool, some webbing)
  • Anchoring material in case you want to make the pitches shorter, or you miss some of the bolted anchors (we did on our first pitch). 
  • Warm clothing, hand warmers. Extra gloves (I like to use liners, thinner gloves for leading and thicker gloves for belaying. Keep gloves inside your jackets, otherwise you collect some snow in).
  • Thermos with a hot beverage.

External Links



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