This is one of the most popular and easily accessible ice climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park, for very good reason. Whoever named the route must have had a sense of humor, because these falls are far from hidden and are well known. The ice forms consistently, and even in meager years there is enough to play with. When the ice forms in full, it consists of a large lower bulge that is rated WI2 and an upper column that is rated WI4. With a moderate approach, just long enough to get the blood pumping and a short cardio workout, this route is easily done in half a day or less. Be forewarned though, due to this areas popularity it can become easily crowded. Come early for some morning climbing, or stay late for some night-ice if you plan on finding the falls to yourself. Either way, you are bound to have a great day on the ice due to a large amount of route variations and a scenic setting.
Getting to the falls is relatively easy. The area is about 12 miles south of Estes Park and about a mile north of Allenspark. From CO 7, look for the large brown sign marking the Wild Basin entrance. Stay on this road and drive as far west as you possibly can. This will depend on how well plowed the road is. From here, park and walk to the falls. Once you see a sign for the Upper and Lower Copeland Falls, continue on this path until you can see the obvious column of ice that makes up Hidden Falls. Depending on snow conditions, it is best to snowshoe in. However, if the trail is packed, no snowshoes are needed. Please refer to the topographic maps and profile for more detail.
These are the possible routes at Hidden Falls in Rock Mountain National Park. Dotted lines indicate possible mix variations to the routes. The black Xs indicate anchors, (may be a little hard to see.) The right most route, (yellow) begins as a WI2 and leads to the WI4 column. The mix variation is M4. The middle route (red) is the standard route and begins with the WI2 bluge and ends with the WI4 upper column. The left most route (blue) begins as a WI2 bluge and also ends on the WI4 column, leading to two bolted anchors under the falls. The mix variation at the bottom is a M4 and the upper mix variation is M5+/6.
This is a single pitch ice climb that is around 85 feet tall. A single 60 meter rope will be plenty. Ice conditions vary greatly every year, but for the most part there are three distinct routes on the main column of ice. In leaner years, the skirt will come completely in and most of the boulders at the bottom will be completely covered in ice. In dryer years the curtain will not come in and will be dangerous and difficult to climb. Boulders at the base will not be covered and will offer some dry-tool variations. The lower 15 feet of the ice is a large bulge that is rated WI2. From here there is a nice ledge where one would place protection if leading the route. The remainder of the climb is a near vertical column of WI4 ice that will get your blood flowing near the top. There is usually not much of a bulge at the top of the climb, making an easy exit. The left most side of the ice offers nice slightly overhanging mixed climbing, rated at M5+/6. This variation also leads to two bolted anchors that are underneath the top of the falls. To set up top-rope, use any of the trees at the top of the climb which can easily be scrambled to.
A standard ice rack is needed for this climb. You should bring the following if you plan to top-rope:
climbing harness, crampons, two ice tools, at least one 60 meter rope, two 10 foot slings, two 20 foot slings.
If you plan to lead or do mixed routes you will need in addition:
3-4 ice screw of varying lengths, stopper set, a few medium cams, 6-7 quickdraws. Leash-less tools and mono-point crampons are recommended if you plan on doing a lot of mixed climbing.
Conditions of many Ice Climbs in Colorado