OverviewAn amazing ice pillar that is so spectacular that the ampitheatre it resides in bears its name. This asthetic ice line forms a massive pillar with a cone at the base followed by near 100 feet of vertical ice.
Followed by the impressive base is the upper column, that usually forms near 90-degree ice to the top.
An amazing climb and definately worth getting on. The climb can be led or toproped, but please be courteous and do not hog the climb by taking laps all day since the route is so popular.
Getting ThereGetting to Vail is simple. Take I-70 west, (about 100 miles if you start in Denver proper). Take the first exit to Vail, also called the E Vail exit, to access the most classic of the climbs and to reach 'Rigid Designator'. Parking is a hassle due to access issues, and it is best to arrive early on the weekend.
As of 2007 there seem to be conflicting signs at the Pumphouse parking lot talkingt about pay. I have never had an issue here and it is best to park here, where the trail is marked clearly for ice climbers. As always, please be respectful towards other and stay on the designated ice climbers trail.
Route DescriptionNot much to it. The climb varies for year to year, but the lower portion is always cauliflowered. Climb delicately and try to save energy by running this section out to good ice before placing the first screw.
If you want to place a screw in this, make sure it is long since the ice is usually foamy. The cone at the base is considered by many to be the crux of the route since climbing the 'petals' is slightly unnerving and awkward. Avoid tackling the petals head on by traversing left and right.
The top ice can be somewhat chandalier and occasionally there is a break in the ice separating the top from the lower column. Climb careful and scout out the route that you will take up the column before hoping on. There are several ways to get to the top, use your judgement and be safe.
Essential GearTo protect the climb on lead, you will need a fair amount of screws, depending on your comfort level on WI5. I have seen it climbed with only 4 screws and as many as 10. Whatever amount you bring, long screws work best here as the ice is often foamy in the lower cone or chandeliered on top. It might be best to run out the bottom until you reach good ice to save energy.
This climb can be top-roped as well. Take the trail towards the Spiral Staircase Area and climb two fixed ropes up a rock/snow gully. From here there is a clear path that leads to several fixed slings and rap rings. Trees can also be used to backup the anchor.
A single 70 meter rope will suffice and just barely make it. As always, a helmet is mandatory!