Support 14ers.com
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  The Spearhead - 12,575 feet
 Post Date:  07/26/2011 Modified: 02/20/2014
 Date Climbed:   07/25/2011
 Posted By:  Brian C
 Additional Members:   glen

 Touching the Soul of the Earth    


The Spearhead via North Ridge (5.6)


July 24-25, 2011

"This climb reminds me of why I started climbing in the first place. It is fundamental. It is magnificent. The climb takes place on such solid rock that you feel like you are touching the soul of the earth. Touch it. Climb it!"
-Gerry Roach from his RMNP Guide


Although Gerry often includes poetic musings in his guidebooks, this description seemed a bit more romantic than usual. When somebody with so much climbing experience talks so highly of a route it has to be a classic. In fact Gerry is not the only person who considers this to be a quality route. The north ridge of the Spearhead is considered by many to be the best climb of its grade in Rocky Mountain National Park and possibly in the country. The route follows a narrow face up a sweep of granite as it steepens into the sky. The climbing is clean and consistent with an easier section in the middle. This all combines to make a great moderate alpine experience. Also, the Spearhead sits much lower than its stately neighbors and seems to be surrounded by giants. Longs, Pagoda, Chief's Head and McHenrys circle around to form walls of rock all around and a better view is hard to find in RMNP.

Image
Route overview.


After a successful ascent of Keyhole Ridge last weekend, Glen and I decided the Spearhead would be an excellent follow-up climb. Not wanted to do the long approach in the dark, we set out on a hot Sunday afternoon. The park was under full tourist invasion, and riding the bus was one of the trip's cruxes. As we neared Black Lake, we started running into other climbers coming down and were happy to hear we'd have the place all to ourselves. We found a nice bivy cave a mere five-minute walk from the start off the climb and settled in. The bivy was an excellent location except for the fact that is was home to another resident. A small mouse worked hard during the night to destroy our sleep by trying to eat my shoes and sleeping pad. Finally, after smacking it with a shoe, it gave up and we were able to snooze.

Image
Coming into view over Mills Lake.


Image
There it is!


Image
McHenrys over Black Lake.


Image
Summit block holding onto the sun.


Image
Still snow above Black Lake. Credit: Glen


Image
Credit: Glen


Image
Sunset on Longs. Credit: Glen


Image
Credit: Glen


Image
Home cave home. Credit: Glen


We got up early, brewed some coffee, and sauntered over to the rock. As we swapped leads up the rock it became obvious why this is a classic. Here are a few notes from how we pitched it out.

Image
Sunrise on McHenrys. Credit: Glen


P1: Starts up runout slabs similar to Flatirons. Ends with a steep chimney and nice belay ledge.

Image
Looking up P1. Credit: Glen


Image
Glen coming up the chimney at the end of P1.


P2: Steep ledgey climbing over a crack and belay at the base of a dihedral system.

Image
Glen leading P2.


P3: Over the dihedral and then over an easier chimney to easier terrain. Belay on right-facing cracks.

Image
Initial chimney of P3. Credit: Glen


P4: Run it out up 4th class slabs to belay at end of rope.

Image
Glen running out the easy P4.


Image
Upper route overview.


P5: Cool finger crack up and belay when out of rope.

Image
Coming up P5.


P6: Up steepening slabs to belay below "piano death block".

Image
Coming up P6. Credit: Glen


P7-8: We did the 5.7 variation that traversed right around the death block and up a steep dihedral to belay at a comfy ledge. The final pitch traverses left up another dihedral right on the edge of the face. The pitch ends with a short but awkward slot that deposits you on scrambling terrain below the summit block.

Image
Credit: Glen


Image
5.7 variaiton around the "piano death block". Credit: Glen


After topping out on the technical climbing, we unroped and scrambled over to the amazing summit block. The actual summit is a large boulder that overhangs the vast east face and is a dramatic perch above the walls below. We took turns scrambling up the exposed block and were amazed that the block actually wobbled slightly under our weight.

Image
We did it!


Image
Final scramble to the summit block.


Image
Good views of McHenrys.


Image
Credit: Glen


Image
Glen hanging his feet over the east face.


Image
Long way down. Credit: Glen


The descent was an uneventful slog down steep loose slopes. We arrived back at our bivy spot and were glad to see that our gear that we hung had been untouched by the local critters. A large marmot went by carrying her babies from one spot to another just a few feet in front of us. The trip had been a great success and lived up to our highest expectations. The route is fabulous and I highly recommend it to anybody looking for classic alpine moderates.

Image
Marmot relocating her babies.


Image
The Spearhead.


Image
Hiking out. Credit: Glen



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (7)
mountainmicah83


Beautiful     2011-07-26 17:25:32
Looks like a gorgeous climb. How do you like that duodess rope? I love mine! Peace.


crossfitter


Sweet     2011-07-26 20:23:04
Your TR definitely bumps this one to high up on my list. Looks like we'll be trading routes!


JohnWilliams


You fellas got it!!!     2011-07-26 22:49:54
And you camped!!!! I'm supper jealous! great report and climb guys. whats next?


Brian C


Replies     2011-07-27 07:02:25
Micah - I love that rope! I've definetly beat the tar out of it and it still is holding strong.

John - Wish you could have been there! We're talking about a few things for next. Maybe Pagoda's north buttress, Lone Eagle's north face or Ellingwood Ledges. Interested?


JohnWilliams


Yes, Yes and Yes!     2011-07-27 09:33:03
you say when! great climb guys


Glen

nice TR     2011-07-27 15:23:59
This was one of the best climbs/ summits I have ever had. Good write up!


SuperPolok


Memories     2011-07-28 11:13:53
Wow, that brings back memories. Climbed it in 2002 and I'm thinking a revisit is in order. Thanks for the TR Brian.



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.