An amazing and archetypal M9 route in Vail put up by Will Gadd in the early 90's, this beautiful line follows a crack, to a travese, to a roof, to a little ice and then the anchors, (all on overhaning rock.)
Nice ice and mixed in the Vail Ampitheater
While downgraded by many beacuse of the wear of the route and the suposed improvment of holds created by traffic, this is a fun and pumpy line that any would be proud to redpoint.
Getting 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 'Amphibian'. 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.
The first bolt is kind of reachy and many use a rock step to reach the first big ledge. Stick clip the first bolt if you can, otherwise a nasty fall could result in an ankle injury! There are supposedly two starts, one to the right and one to the left, but find your way up the most logical line and clip the second bolt before moving into the crack.
Beginning moves of 'Amphibian', steep from the getgo. Good feet are to be found if you look close.
Big moves on good crack placements lead to the 5th bolt where climbing becomes more spicy. Although the bolt seems far away, it is not too bad. Traverse high, feet are big but hard to see over the bluge, and carefully clip the 6th bolt.
Working higher and higher in the crack.
Continue on technical terrain to the right to a slight rest in a cave-ish looking area before moving higher and clipping the last bolt before the roof. Pull onto the ice carefully and move to the two bolt anchor. When there is little ice, a knee-bar-ish move can be done to help pull onto the ice. There is apparently a second pitch leading from these anchors using mostly trad gear, however most stop here. It tops out in the trees above, and you will most likely need to leave gear to rappell.
A view from the bottom up.
The first quickdraw is sometimes missing, but otherwise all draws are prehung. If you suspect a bad draw, it might be good to replace it with one of your own and donate it to 'the cause'. Also, if there are no draws hung, it might be good to bring a bail biner in case you must back off of the climb, (no shame though, it is a hard route!) Depending on how much ice there is, bring a few screws unless you feel comfortable running it out to the anchors.
Typcial 'modern' mixed climbing gear setup.
Fruit boots and leashless tools are not necessary for the route, but make climbing easier and more enjoyable.