Lone Eagle Peak - North Face

6-7 Jul 2001 - by Chris Cavallaro (view roster page)

On Friday July 6, me and my climbing buddy Jim Carlson left Denver around 1:00pm to go and climb the North Face of Lone Eagle III 5.7. We headed for the Monarch Lake Trailhead on the farside of Lake Granby. Weather looked good for the time being, and we were soon hiking at about 4:00pm, hoping to finish the 8 mile hike to the Lone Eagle Cirque by nightfall. Starting on the Cascade trail, we passed some of the most picturesque falls I have ever seen, the Cascade falls, after about 4 miles. Shortly thereafter, the skys opened up, not to close again till the next morning. By the time we got to the Crater Lake trail, the rain was pretty consistent, and we arrived at Mirror Lake around 8:00pm. We were soaked, but the eight miles, and 2200 vertical feet was behind us. We were then treated to one of the most magnificent thunderstorms I have ever witnessed. Thunder in the mountains, seems to 'echo' for minutes after each explosion. The rain did not let up until the next morning.

We awoke to blue skys, the beautiful smell of wet sage, and Lone Eagle beckoning us to come play! We left camp at around 8:00am, skirted Crater Lake to the east, and arrived at our first pitch of climbing at 8:30. When looking for this first pitch, scramble SE directly beneath the North Face, and aim between two pine trees. Scramble as high as you can, and then dawn the rock shoes for about 25ft of 5.6 climbing, passing a piton on the way. We then put the boots back on, and scrambled through the left-arcing tree ledges for a few hundred feet. The climbing in the tree ledges poses a few 5.3 moves, which we did unroped, but a rope is recommended for comfort. You end in a prominent gully. We then scrambled up this gully, and roped up for a fun 100ft 5.5 chimney with great protection, and great handholds on the side. After this chimney, scramble up a 3rd class gully to a 75ft wall. Ascend this 5.5 wall to the prominent ridge, with a good belay on the left side.

From the top of this ridge, what a sight. Scramble up the prominent rib (not to the highest spot on the ridge), and look for two nearly vertical parallel cracks. This is the crux pitch, and there is no other way around it. We belayed from a small stance at the base of this pitch, with great protection. The 150ft 5.7 pitch is awesome! Perfect rock and perfect protection, with great exposure. There are 4 fixed pitons on the way. Belay next to a 'pyramid' looking rock, with small wire placements to anchor. We then scrambled around to the east, and found the last few pitches. One pitch of 5.3 up a prominent gully, heads to a belay with small protection. We then did a 5.7 move out of this belay, and ran it out to the summit ridge. YEE HA! What a view! It was about 1:30pm.

Lone Eagle is actually a ridge off of Iroquois Mountain, and is smack dab in the center of the cirque. The ridge can't be more than 6 feet wide. To descend, follow the Solo Flight route on the ridge, passed cairns. The route stays just off the east side of this ridge on small ledges. You then must ascend a dirty gully for about 150 feet, which proved to be the least fun part of the trip (advice- let one person ascend this gully at a time, to avoid dumping rocks on your partner.) The solo flight route takes you around the 'back' side of lone eagle, by triangle lake. As we arrived in camp, the skys opened up around 3:30, and was relentless, as we were mandated to our tent for the rest of the evening. We hiked out Sunday morning.

This is a great moderate alpine climb, and I have never seen another party on this face. This is also one of the most rugged areas I have been to in all of Colorado. The ridges look like 'saw-teeth', waterfalls abound, and Lone Eagle catches your eye, never to let go..


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