Peak(s):  Arrowhead - 12,642 feet
McHenrys Pk  -  13,327 feet
Date Posted:  07/24/2012
Modified:  05/18/2013
Date Climbed:   07/21/2012
Author:  d_baker
 There'll Be Days Like This  

July 21, 2012

Climbers: Terri Horvath and Darin Baker

Arrowhead Peak (12,something')
*McHenrys Peak (13,something')

*"Named after a nice old man."
Front Range
Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)

View to the E from McHenrys - showcasing RMNP's prominent and only 14er

Trailhead: Glacier Gorge
Route: Up & thru this drainage and then up into that basin and over to and up some face and over the ridge and down to that saddle and out
Distance: It must have been more than 10 miles RT (round trip), I swear it
Elevation Gain: I bet it was more than 4500'
Difficulty: I did it, so it can't be that hard (class 3 up Arrowhead's NW face, class 4 with exposure on traverse to McHenrys N/NW face, class 3 & 4 on descent of McHenrys S side, w/ route finding throughout)

Class 4 scrambling on McHenrys N face
(Photo by Terri)

Gear: daypack w/Essentials, helmet (not Helmut)
Resources Used For Trip Planning: my guide - Terri; Gerry Roach's RMNP Classic Hikes & Climbs; TOPO! mapping software; NOAA weather forecast

"When Everything Falls into Place..."
I'm on vacation and I want to visit as much of the high alpine country as I can. RMNP is one such area that I want to visit, but a simple visit won't do. No, I need to scramble high and see far. Terri spearheads my desire. Like a flick of a switch, she has a plan. I concur with the plan....

"Into the Mystic..."
We trod along the well-worn path toward Mills Lake. It's a warm morning. Glaciated beauty surrounds us, and I'm in awe as I get my first glimpse of some of the RMNP classics.

"Beautiful morning sun, lighting up a brand new day"
The Spearhead in the foreground, Chiefs Head towers above (photo by Terri)

We turn off the trail and make our way up to the basin that holds Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. From this tiny basin, we approach the NW face of Arrowhead.

Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Mtn, Chiefs Head Peak, & Arrowhead's NE face make up the skyline

Solitude Lake with Powell Pk at the head of the basin

Looking up at our route on the NW face of Arrowhead

(Photo by Terri)

My Guide

A taste for later

Chiefs Head from the summit of Arrowhead

As you probably realize, it was picture time

As we sat there, I asked Terri if she just wanted to hang out on the summit for a while and then descend, or do the traverse.
"Is that a trick question?!"
" I'm serious!"
"Well, we're here and I think we should go over there!"

Truth is, Terri is a strong, driven, badass mountaineering chick. No doubt. Me, I'm a cherry-picking sissy.

Honestly, looking over at McHenrys was a sobering moment because it looked imposing. I could see the bottom part would go, but an upper section looks damn steep! Why do they always look that way?

Off we go....

At the start, we stayed high on the ridge crest to the saddle. Looking down the "swoopy" cirque of Arrowheads SE face was also sobering. Just don't fall off the ridge crest and all will be well.
Near the saddle we came off the ridge to the W and went lower to traverse into a line we saw.

"When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit..."
(Photo by Terri)

"....Then I must remember there'll be days like this."

The route finding wasn't too complicated, and the rock was generally good with areas of loose stuff, until we reached higher (i.e., steeper) ground and got on some wonderful scrambling of 4th class delight. ;)

"When there's no one complaining there'll be days like this..."
(Photo by Terri)




On the summit, we find 3 guys that had come up from Stone Man Pass, which will be our descent route. They're surprised to see us, just as much as we were to see them!

(Photo by Terri)

(Photo by Terri)

To the W/NW

Beautiful views, but dark thickening clouds in the distance with some virga and faint sounds of thunder suggest we should leave.
We depart for Stone Man Pass.

There's still time for sunshine and a smile

Rocks get stacked in the neatest ways and places

And sometimes geological forces have a rough time with penile implants
(Photo by Terri; interpretation by me)

Descending grunge off of Stone Man Pass
(Photo by Terri)

The Stone Man
(Photo by Terri)

We hiked through the upper portion of Glacier Basin, marveling at the rock and the climber's wall on The Spearhead. We also could see some climbers climbing up the flake high on the NE face.

We descended parallel to the stream that pours into Black Lake, with rain trying to add to the flow.
Soon after, we run into Kevin Baker and his friend Kierstie as they descend the trail coming from their day on Alice. What a pleasant surprise!

Another great day in the high alpine of the Rocky Mountains!

As Van Morrison wrote, and as "Mama told me there'll be days like this." And I'm so thankful they're right.

Thanks for reading,

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/24/2012 15:06
What an amazing place that is! Looks like a great day with even better company!


nothing like a day in the Park...
07/24/2012 15:21
That route looks so fun. Great TR Darin. Not a bad day out for a Texan on vacation.

I’ll bet Terri is a good ”guide.” She is certainly a ”strong, driven, badass mountaineering chick.”

Papi and I have had a streak of running into her unexpectedly in random mountain locales, and I think we had McHenry’s slated for last weekend at one point... should have stuck with that plan, we might have run into you guys!


07/24/2012 15:38
In-famous is when you're more than famous. This man El Guapo is not just famous, he's in-famous.

Awesome route Darin. Great Trip Report.


@ Floyd
07/24/2012 15:54
Maybe a poor word choice, so I changed it!


Well done, as usual
07/24/2012 17:48
For a sissy and a badass chick.


07/24/2012 17:52
So is there only one easy way up Arrowhead's NW slope or are there lots of possibilities? Climbing Thatchtop earlier this year, I couldn't really see anything that didn't look crazy.

Nice TR, Arrowhead Arete looks great!


Well Done
07/24/2012 17:54
Great section of the park, doesn't get the attention it deserves in my opinion. Next connect McHenry to Powell and Thatchtop, a phenomenal scramble to keep on your list (best from Thatchtop->Arrowhead IMO).


Very Cool
07/24/2012 20:24
Love the views of Longs from the summit of McHenrys. That is an incredible area. Nice photos and writeup, even the part about rock dongs.


Never get sick of those views
07/24/2012 20:28
Sweet report man! Terri does seem to be one badass chick, definietly come across her name on quite a few 13er registers. Life is good when you are not in Texas.

Kevin Baker

07/25/2012 02:22
Awesome shots and great to run into you guys up there! I'm surprised Mr. Gore has put off RMNP for so long. Hope Glacier Gorge will have you again sometime. There is so much to do in that basin.


Beautiful pictures
07/25/2012 13:37
Nice Darin. Glad you're back from the Lonestar State! Glacier Gorge is so beautiful. Great TR as always!


every shot of Longs in this TR
07/25/2012 18:41
kicks ass.

Nice job!


Looks like...
07/25/2012 19:15
a fantastic way to spend the day!! Man, you're having one hell of a vacation, keep it up!!


07/26/2012 04:17
Thanks for the comments everyone.
RMNP is an area I'll have to spend more time in!
But first, the Gore.....

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