ApproachStairway to Heaven is, inexplicably, one of the elite Roach Top Ten Flatiron routes. Why this is is anyone's guess! I found the route to be interesting in the one or two technical sections but otherwise irritating and grungy. Stairway to Heaven is shown in the topos in Richard Rossiter's Flatirons Guidebook (#17 on page 150), but is not described in the text. There are two or three bone-fide technical pitches at about 5.4, but the remainder of the route is 3rd and 4th class scrambling.
On the plus side, you are treated to fantastic views the whole way of the north face of Dinosaur Mountain and the many other flatirons on either side of Skunk Canyon. While the rest of Skunk Canyon is closed seasonally for raptor nesting, Ridge One is typically open year round.
Skunk Canyon and the adjacent Dinosaur Mountain are composed of four strata of tilted rock. These are named Ridge One (farthest east) through Ridge Four (farthest west). Stairway to Heaven runs up the entire length of Ridge One from the bottom of Skunk Canyon to the eastern slopes of Green Mountain.
Approach the route from NCAR, heading west to the Mesa Trail. Turn right (north) on the Mesa Trail and descend quickly into Skunk Canyon. As the trail ascends through a series of switchbacks, look left for a rough use trail headed into the depths of the canyon. From here you're on your own! There are segments of a rough trail from here on, but fallen trees and masses of poison ivy (in season) may block your path. You may find that the easiest route follows the creekbed itself.
Skunk Canyon from the Mesa Trail. Stairway to Heaven follows the red line up Ridge One.
Route DescriptionDepending how comfortable you are with 4th-class scrambling, this route can be climbed as roughly six roped pitches or several roped pitches interspersed with unroped scrambling.
Essential GearThis is typical grungy Flatiron climbing. Err in favor of long ropes and light racks. Protection is scant on much of the climb. Good shoes for the descent are a good idea as well.
Miscellaneous InfoIf you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
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