After hearing from a couple of sources that Grace Falls was in, Jeff and I finally found a day to go and check it out for ourselves. We left by 4:00. After grabbing some burritos at Del Taco and getting pulled over by a Boulder County Deputy, we still made the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park by 6:00. The trail was generally well packed all the way to Two Rivers Lake, but we opted to put our snow shoes on after about an hour of hiking. The approach to the base of Grace Falls took us 2.5 hours at a pretty casual pace. I had my blood sugars dialed in fairly well all day long and was never too low or high throughout our trip.
Our first views of Grace Falls from slightly above Two Rivers Lake and Lake Helene confirmed that Grace Falls was definitely in. We sized up the flow as we scrambled to the base of it and I immediately eyed a climbable line. It was of course the easiest one I could find on the entire wall. Grace Falls is only one pitch of ice climbing; however, when it is in this fat the flow offers several options of varying difficulty. I did a fairly good job leading and stayed calm throughout. However, both my feet blew out from bad placements at one point and I was hanging by both tools. I didn't get sketched out, and Jeff was ready to catch what he thought was a certain fall. I finished the climb without further incident.
I placed 5 or 6 screws before topping out on an shelf about two-thirds of the way up the ice. Beyond this it was all rolling WI2, so I simply stopped on the shelf, built an anchor, and brought Jeff up. We moved the anchor above a more difficult section of ice and lower on the flow in order to top-rope. We rapped off our three screw anchor and Jeff did a good job climbing a harder grade than our first line. I struggled the rest of the day and climbed poorly.
We could have led out over the easy ice above us to a walk-off on climber's right, but we opted to build a V-thread and rap down to our gear. Surprisingly, it only took me two tries to connect the V-thread. After I got down, Jeff cleaned all our gear and rapped off our V-thread. The anchor held and we geared down and ate before heading back down the trail. Although Grace Falls is only one pitch, we really enjoyed the day which definitely had an alpine feel to it. The ice was fresh, the setting was spectacular below Notchtop Mountain, and we saw only two other climbers. It was definitely worth the hike to visit a climb we had never done before and get into the backcountry.