• Date - 12/22/2019
  • Elevation - 11,400'
  • Route - Northwest Face Route
  • Miles - 5.0
  • Elevation Gain - 2,200'
  • ACME Mapper - Link
  • CalTopo - Link
  • Partners - Nick Quesnel


This route is on the northwest face of Thatchtop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I climbed this route in 2009 and 2013, so enough time has passed to give it another attempt with Nick who had not been up the climb.  We left the Glacier Gorge Trailhead at 7:20 and made our way to the Loch Vale on a well packed trail.  I struggled with low blood sugar for much of the morning, but recovered well by the time we were climbing.  We hiked to the southwest end of the lake and broke trail for a short distance to the talus slope leading to the deep gully cutting left into the side of the face.  We scrambled up snow and rock a couple hundred feet in the gully until the first ice pitch appeared on the right wall.  We geared up and since I had led the money pitch before, Nick took the sharp end of the rope.  The first pitch is clearly the best at WI3+.  From here to the ridge of Thatchtop Mountain, we simul-climbed most of the rest of the route, which can be easily kept at WI2 and snow climbing.  Once on top, we were greeted by strong but tolerable gusts.  We worked our way down the ridge to the walk-off descent before scrambling back to The Loch and hiking out.  It ended up being a 6 hour and 45 minute car-to-car day.  As previously mentioned, the first pitch is really good and a lot of fun.  After that it is simply a slog or a good first lead for new climbers.


The LochAscent GullyNorthwest Face Route (Pitch 1)Nick leading pitch 1.Nick leading pitch 1.Nick leading pitch 1.Nick leading pitch 1.Nick leading pitch 1.Nick leading pitch 1.Looking across the valley.Looking down at Nick at the top of pitch 1.Nick following the scrambling pitches with The Loch below.Nick finishing the climb.Nick and James at the top of the climb.Nick descending the shoulder of Thatchtop Mountain.The CryptDescent RouteEstes Park Elk