Hourglass Ridge

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hike, with some Class 3 Scrambling near the Summit
Time Required:
A long day
Class 3

Route Quality: 5 Votes

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Hourglass Ridge
Created On: Apr 21, 2003
Last Edited On: Nov 14, 2004


Begin at the Thunder Lake Trailhead at the Wild Basin Ranger Station. This is a wonderful trail taking you by Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls. From the tarilhead, it is 4.8 miles to the junction with the Lion Lake Trail. Follow the Lion Lake trail towards Mt. Alice. Once at Lion Lake #1, you can easily see the route you will need to follow.

Route Description

At the Lion Lake/Thunder Lake trail junction, take a right (NW) towards Lion Lake #1. This will direct you to some of the most spectacular lakes in Colorado. Lion Lake #1 is first on that list. Right at tree line, this lake is surrounded on its South and East sides by thick, lush forests. On its North and West sides, it is surrounded by marshy fields of thick grass and wildflowers. A short Tundra walk brings you to Lion Lake #2. This lake is just as spectacular. It is a little higher than #1 and is surrounded on it's Northwest side by a large snowfield. This snowfield must be crossed to reach Snowbank Lake. This lake, hence the name, is surrounded on its Northwest side by an even larger Snowbank. Both #2 and Snowbank Lake are surrounded by thousands and thousands of wildflowers. This is a great area to take a few minutes to rest and snap some pictures. From Snowbank Lake, you will head up the long ridge to the Saddle between Mt. Alice and Cheifs Head Peak. From there, you head south along Hourglass Ridge, an exposed, up and down, ridge, that takes you to the base of the North Face. You can now start the task of crawling up the steep North Face. It looks a lot worse than it is. After picking the best route (staying west to avoid a false summit) over loose boulders and talus, you will be standing on a wonderful summit. Well worth the 9 miles to get there.

Essential Gear

During the Summer months, you will need a good pair of hiking boots, as well as all of the essential hiking gear (map compass, layers, rain gear, food, water, etc.....) Be mindful that the last water is at Snowbank Lake. (I would STRONGLY reccomend filling up you bottles/hydration systems here. It will be a few hours before you are again able to fill up.)

In the winter, you will need an axe and crampons. The North Face is pretty steep, and is surrounded by large cliffs on all sides. The slip, without an axe and/or crampons, would be your last.

One piece of equipment, which is a must, is a camera. This is the most beautiful trail I have EVER hiked. Especially the Lion Lakes area. Absolutely mind numbing.

Hourglass Ridge

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