Peak(s):  McHenrys Peak  -  13,327 feet
Date Posted:  10/29/2020
Date Climbed:   08/16/2020
Author:  Alpinefroggy
 Mchenry's Peak via Stone Man Pass - a rmnp gem.   

The glacier gorge area of RMNP is home to a number of incredibly striking mountains including of course Longs Peak. Longs overshadows many of these other mountains figuratively/literally and in addition to the popularity of the area warding off climbers who might venture into Glacier Gorge, the mountains surrounding longs are seldom climbed and highly underrated imo.

I was struck by Mchenry’s peak, a wedge of granite that you see when you just hit the keyhole. I wanted to climb it and so I decided my first climb in my time in Colorado was going to be it. Well it went good and bad.


Time: 11 hrs 45 min

Distance: 15 miles

Elev gain ~4500 ft

I started off at 330 AM from the Glacier Gorge trailhead and followed the signs in the dark past mills lake to black lake. From there the path goes up the left side of the black lake basin along a drainage before depositing you into the upper glacier gorge basin. It was a choose your own adventure style cross country walk until I got to the base of the stone man ridge. What a pretty basin.

Smokey sunrise

Early morning


Previous trip reports had indicated that stone man pass was full of snow. For those uninitiated on the route. From the upper glacier gorge basin you need to climb a steep scree filled gully just at the place where the ridgeline connects with the face of Mchenry’s This gully is typically filled with snow into August and it was on this day. The alternative is a series of class 3 ledges that ascend to the stoneman. I opted for these and I found them straight forward enough.

Chief's head

Shadow of the stoneman

The South Face

Once at the stoneman I was going pretty slow but I still went ahead with the rest of the route.

From here beta is a little sparse but I put together the route that goes up the right side of the south face of Mchenry’s on mostly talus then banks left into a final class 3 gully to the summit This last section took me a long time but I did reach the long flat summit around 9 AM. After trying to eat some food that did not stay down I realized I had developed altitude sickness. Not a great thing and in retrospect it was stupid to try this route without ensuring I was acclimated. I took an ibuprofen, took a few pictures then realizing my developing sickness decided it was time to descend. This is not a great situation to be in. I was the only person on the whole mountain.

Summit pano

Hi black lake

The face of altitude sickness

On the way down

I took my damn time on the ledges and the gully all the way down into the basin. From here I trudged out with my altitude sickness all the way down back to my car. 6 hours from the summit I hugged my car out of exhaustion and feeling crappy and vowed never to do something so stupid again.

Back to the stoneman

Pano from the stoneman

From the upper glacier gorge

From black lake

That unpleasantness aside, Mchenry’s and the whole area is an absolutely stellar place. The climbing is ok but the route itself and the whole area is really an absolute pleasure to experience. I do wish to go back to glacier basin now that I have acclimated and have more experience to enjoy climbs of Pagoda, Powell, and Chiefs Head.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Well Done
10/29/2020 10:20
And, thank you so much for posting a quality Trip Report about this. I am glad to see other folks up there enjoying Glacier Gorge and everything it has. Keep adventuring

Excellent report
10/29/2020 17:03
Thanks for posting this. I think glacier gorge is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado.
It is one of the few things I miss about no longer living in Denver.
The photographs were wonderful.

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