Tempered by Fire WI4/5

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.89900°N / 107.5617°W
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI4/5
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
Sign the Climber's Log


Tempered by Fire
Tempered by Fire as seen from the road
Tempered by Fire
Tempered by Fire
Tempered by Fire is another one of the shorter ice routes located off County Road 2 (=Hwy 110), above Eureka. The approach is about 30 min up the road while passing many popular ice climbs on both sides of the road. The classic lines like Stairway to Heaven WI4 and Highway to Hell WI4 are across the Animas River gorge. Other ice routes are very close and just a little bit above the road: First Gully WI3, Second Gully WI3, Goldrush WI4/5, Fat City WI4/5 - this one is a way up above the road, Just Another Gully Climb WI3 - again way above the road and finally Tempered by Fire. The route is not that popular since it requires 1/2 hr approach and is only 2 pitches long. Most climbers when visiting Eureka are trying to get onto one of the Colorado Ice classic routes such as Stairway to Heaven or Whorehose Hoses (right across from parking lot at Eureka). The climb is easy to identify - look for the ice filled chimney (looks almost like Choppo's Chimney at Camp Bird Road).

Jack Roberts in his Colorado Ice provides only a very brief description: "One pitch up an ice filled chimney to a pillar in the back. Walk off to the right." After climbing this route, it is NOT one pitch. The rope (even 70 meter) would not reach if you would decide to climb the ice filled chimney and then the pillar - short and steep, very aesthetic looking column of ice. I did not see any obvious walk off and since there are fixed anchors, rappelling the route seems like a more obvious choice.
Mountain Project provides a little more information: 2 pitches, there are bolted anchors above the first pitch. 
Elevation in Eureka: 9,862 feet (=3,006 meters)
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 all the way to Eureka (past Eureka is is closed until end of May). 
There is a nice cross country ski trail next to this road leading back to Silverton. Back country ski opportunities in this area are excellent, but pay attention to avalanche danger!
History: 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 climb itself is relatively safe from avalanche danger, but the road is not and you will have to cross several avalanche paths - check Northern San Juan Avalanche Forecast prior going out. 
Climber's Hut - if you need to spent a night, there is a climber's hut in Eureka - very simple hut, one room with beds (no mattress), table and chairs. There is a stove and wood to make fire. I think there is a jar where you can (and should) leave money for lodging. 
Nice place to stay in Eureka: Eureka Lodge (former Outward Bound Hotel). You do need to make an advanced reservations since the owners are not there year round. The lodge feels like ghost hunted place!

Getting There

Sunrise, Eureka
Sunrise, Eureka
Ice Climber Hut
Ice Climber Hut
From the Main Street in Silverton, continue onto good dirt road - Hwy 110 - which is snowplowed for the first 9 miles. As you pass  through Silverton turn right onto 110 = county road 2, if  you go straight uphill on 110, it will take you to Silverton Ski area. Drive past Howardville through a valley, past Minnie Gulch, all the way to Eureka (9miles). 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 buried in the snow). 
  Hike up on the snow filled road = county Road 2 = above the Eureka Lodge (Jack Robert's in his Colorado Ice climbs calls by its old name Outward Bound Hotel). Continue up the road, there is usually a trail by climbers accessing climbs off this road. You will be passing on the west side (left) First Gully WI3, Second Gully WI3, Goldrush WI4/5, Fat City WI4/5- higher up above the road, Just Another Gully Climb WI3 and finally you will see Tempered by Fire WI4/5. On the east side (your right) is a deep creek Animas River and across are classic climbs as Highway to Hell WI4 and Stairway to Heaven WI4
If you continue past Tempered by Fire, you will reach Burns Gulch Ice higher up the road and on the east (opposite) site than Tempered by Fire. 
Approach Hike: ~ 1/2 hr, depending on how much snow is on the road (about 1.3 mile above Eureka).

Route Description

Climb is easy to identify - ice filled chimney, really aesthetic looking and very obvious from the road. Scramble up the steep slope to the base of the climb. 
Pitch 1: Climb the ice filled chimney with a steep start to bolted anchors on the left. It is about 25 meters long. The climb gets easier higher up. WI4, maybe 4/5. You can belay inside the chimney to avoid ice falling out of the chimney.
Pitch 2: Easier terrain to an obvious and very nice looking steep, short chimney. Mountain Projects says there are bolted anchors on the left below some bushes, I did not see those (maybe covered by snow). We set up a v-thread for rappel. about 20 meters long.
Descent: 2 rappels. We used only one 60 meter rope and it was sufficient, we had to walk a on easier terrain between the rappel 1-2, but it felt comfortable and easy.
And if you have a taste for dry tooling try Tempered Engagement located on the dry rock on the left side of the first pitch. Rated as M5-6, nicely protected with frequent bolts (8) and anchors at the top. 
Tempered by Fire
Tempered by Fire - 1st pitch
Tempered by Fire
Tempered by Fire - 2nd pitch
Tempered by Fire
Tempered by Fire rappel

Essential Gear

  • Personal climbing gear: boots, crampons, harness, helmet, ice tools, belay device
  • One 60 meter rope sufficient
  • Rack of ice screws and slings
  • Material to set up v-threads for emergency and practice (there are anchors/slings around a tree above the icefall)
  • Trekking poles for the approach
  • Hot beverage
  • Extra gloves, ? hand warmers

External Links



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