The SPEARHEAD
Route: Age Axe (5.10b, 6p)    (+ Three Stoners Pitch 1 (5.10c, 1p))

AUG
15
2020
TR #: 445

Category: Colorado       Summit Elev: 12,575 ft       Rock Type: Granite

Partner: Nate Arganbright

A route up the prow on the left end of Spearhead's NE Face.


INTRO

Age Axe climbs the prow on the left end of Spearhead's NE Face. The name for the route is a play on the first name of Ajax Green, who put the route up with Chris Reevley in 1975. 

I though this was a good climb. The two crux 10b pitches of the route are Pitches 2 and 6. Pitch 2 is good climbing and although a bolt protects the crux, there are  a few spots of non-trivial climbing where a fall would be dangerous. Pitch 6 is excellent crack climbing up a steep corner.  The other four pitches offer enjoyable and moderate 5.6-5.8 climbing on good rock. If you're up for the PG13 (or perhaps even R) rated Pitch 2, this route is an excellent adventure away from the crowds on the Barb and Sykes' Sickle.

Nate and I climbed Age Axe as the first of two climbs on a weekend overnight into the spectacular Glacier Gorge basin. On Saturday we climbed Age Axe on Spearhead, descended and wrapped back around to the base of Spearhead to add a bonus pitch up the excellent 10c tips first pitch of Three Stoners, then rapped back down and spent the rest of the day reading/studying/relaxing at our bivy. On Sunday we packed up camp and hiked over to the basin below Arrowhead to climb Warhead (5.10a, 5p), and then hiked out. What a great way to spend a hot weekend.
 
The following page provides a trip report for Axe Age and the first pitch of Three Stoners, as well as some photos from hanging out in the beautiful Glacier Gorge.  Enjoy!

TIME STATS FOR AGE AXE

Bear Lake Trailhead to bivy: 2 hours 22 minutes
Bivy to base of route: 13 minutes
Climb route: 2 hours 30 minutes
Descent down SE Ramp to bivy: 40 minutes


OVERLAY FOR AGE AXE



PITCH BY PITCH PHOTOS FOR AGE AXE

Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Hike Glacier Gorge trail to Black Lake and continue up into basin below base of Spearhead. The approach is short enough that the route can easily be done car to car, but the basin below Spearhead is a beautiful spot and there are some awesome bivy caves, so it is worth an overnight if you have the time.
1.    
2.    
3.    
 
 
 
  
 
  
  
  
 
1. Morning sun on the summit of The Spearhead.
2. Approaching the base of the route in the morning sun.
3. Nearing the base of the route. Look at all that awesome granite.


Pitch 
1
5.6 or 5.7. Climb an initial pitch to a ledge at the bottom of the left dihedral. There are at least two options.
4.    4. For Pitch 1, I led the corner system on the right side of the photo. It felt about 5.7.


Pitch 
2
5.10b PG13 (5.7 R). Climb up and left around an arete to a right-angling crack. Move left onto the slab and make a difficult move past a bolt. Then climb moderate but a tad runnout slab up just left of the arete. Head up and left up a flake to a ledge to belay. 
5.    
6.   
5. Nate starting off the pitch.
6. Nate is at the bolt location in this pitch.

Pitch 
3
5.8. Climb up some opposing corners to the right hand crack system. Eventually come to an old bolt, and climb leftward and up to a better ledge.
7.    
8.    
9.   
7. Pitch 3 terrain.
8. An old bolt on this pitch. It is also possible to be left of this and skip the bolt entirely.
9. Nate's got rope management dialed.


Pitch 
4
5.8. Jam the hand and fist crack to a large ledge. Pass an old two-bolt anchor and belay at the right end of the ledge.
10.    
11.    
12.  
10. Looking up Pitch 4.
11. An old bolted anchor on the ledge at the top of Pitch 4. I clipped this and continued to the right end of the ledge to belay.

12. Enjoying a sunny belay seat.

Pitch 
5
5.4. From the right end of the ledge, climb cracks and corners up and right to a long, grassy ledge. Belay on the left end of the ledge. Although the climbing is easy, it felt a bit harder than 5.4.
13.    13. Looking up Pitch 5.


Pitch 
6
5.10b. From the left end of the ledge, climb a steep crack and the a right-facing corner to the descent ledge at the top of the wall.
14.    
15.  
14. Looking up Pitch 6. 
15. Higher on Pitch 6.

Top!
Scramble to the top, or begin the descent.
(see my other trip reports for Spearhead for summit photos)
Descent
There are three descent options I know of: (1) Head right to the anchors at the top of All Two Obvious and rappel to the base in 5 raps with double ropes. (2) Descend the E/SE side (3rd-4th) back down to the NE Side of Spearhead. (3) Scramble down 3rd class slopes on the SW side. We chose to descend the E/SE side, which seems to make the most sense for this route. 
16.    
17.  
16. A view up towards the summit on descent. This was the first time I had ever noticed the cannon hole in the summit ridge.
17. Descent down the E/SE side.


PHOTOS FOR PITCH 1 OF THREE STONERS

Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Pitch 
1
APPROACH PITCH 5.7.  There is more than one way to get to Middle Earth Ledge. We started on the far left side and eventually climbed up the left of two big dihedrals. 
1.    

1. Approach pitch.


Pitch 
2
THREE STONERS. 5.10c. Finger lock and foot smear up the finger/tips crack to the left side of a flake. End at a ledge formed by the top of the flake. This pitch is short but it packs a punch.
2.    
3.    

2. The pitch climbs the thin crack to the flake and ends on the top of the flake.
3. Looking up the crack.


Descent
We just wanted to climb the first pitch of Three Stoners, so we rapped off a nut at the top of this pitch back to Middle Earth Ledge. We then rapped (single 70m rope) from an anchor at the edge of Middle Earth Ledge down to terrain we could scramble.
4.  4. Rappelling from Middle Earth Ledge.



PHOTOS FOR BIVYING IN GLACIER GORGE

We bivied two nights in upper Glacier Gorge. What a spectacular place to spend a couple of days.

Photos:
Photo descriptions:
1.    
2.    
3.    
4.    
5.    
6.    
7.    
8.    
9.    
10.    
11.    
12.    
13.    
14.    
15.    
16.    
17.    
18.    
19.    
20.    
21.    
22.    
23.    
24.    
25.    
26.    
27.    
28.    
29.    
30.    
31.    
32.    
33.    
34.    
35.    
36.    
37.    
38.        
1. The beautiful upper Glacier Gorge basin below The Spearhead.
2. There are some great bivy sites in the basin below The Spearhead. Many of them are sheltered under large boulders. This is one of them. We didn't stay in this  one.
3. A view inside the bivy under the large boulder.
4-6. Our bivy site.
7. Collecting water. Water is abundant in Glacier Gorge.
8. A view out of Glacier Gorge. The smoke is from the Cameron Peak wildfire which had started earlier that week and would likely burn quite awhile in the dry late-August climate.
9. Zoomed in on the smoke clouds.
10. Making dinner at the bivy. 
11. Nate made a pretty amazing looking tuna-bacon-cheese melt on sourdough bread.

12. I had my standard gluten-free fare of mashed potatoes with salmon, cream cheese, and tomatoes.
13. The Keyboard of the Winds in alpenglow.
14. Hanging packs to keep the marmots from chewing into them.
15. A view out towards the fire. The smoke would dissipate at night, but roar back up over the course of the day.
16. Zoomed in on the smoke.
17. Another view towards the fire, with a pretty tarn in the foreground.
18. After climbing Age Axe and the first pitch of Three Stoners, we still had plenty of time to have a relaxing afternoon in this amazing location.
19. Enjoying some mid-day coffee.
20. Enjoying some studying for my preliminary exams, which are now only a week away!
21. A climber on the Barb flake.

22. A view towards Longs Peak and Keyboard of the Winds.
23. A waterfall below Green Lake.
24. Since we had so much time in the afternoon after finishing our climb, I explored the area around Green Lake, which is just under the NE Face of Chiefs Head. This photo shows Green Lake and the NE Face of Chiefs Head behind.
25. Green Lake.
26-32. There are some pretty cool rocks up here. I got my undergraduate degree in Geology, so rocks have always fascinated me. Here are some descriptions provided by my long-time go-to geology consult Doug McKeever. =)
#26. The very light colored rock appears to be all quartz and feldspar. Note the "squeezed" texture up close, possibly a flow structure. #27. This one has it all, further support for some quite intense deformation. #28. Nice gneiss. #29. Contact between two different compositions of gneiss, with granite in front. Horizontal fractures continue in both gneisses. #30. Dissertation study just in this one rock! This rock would make a great kitchen countertop.  #31. Contact between two drastically different rocks. The "toothed" blocks in the fine-grained gray rock are due to mechanical erosion along joints that don't extend into the granitic rock. The gray rock shows good glacial striations but the granite doesn't, which illustrates a drastic difference in hardness between the softer gray rock and the granite. #32 The black stone is andesite porphyry.
33. Some wildflowers were still out. These are Arctic Gentian.
34. Fireweed.
35. King's Crown.
36. I noticed that the grass was turning red in spots. Fall is coming....
37. More studying for prelims.
38. Enjoying another nice evening in upper Glacier Gorge.