Spiral Staircase Smear (M4-5 WI3-4)

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Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Less than two hours
M4-5 WI3-4
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Spiral Staircase Smear (M4-5 WI3-4)
Created On: Dec 31, 2007
Last Edited On: Jan 2, 2008


To the left of Spiral Staircase, there are numerous possible mixed routes, none of which are protected by bolts. If you are a creative climber, this wall is for you, there are at least three different starts and two different finishes to piece together an interesting route.

Some routes in Vail, even though climbed often, are confusing to name. This series of lines has been dubbed Unnamed Verglas or Spiral Stairs Smears by C. Burns in his Colorado Ice Climber's Guide. J. Roberts does not even mention this series of routes in his guide, Colorado Ice. Whatever you call the route, it is pretty fun and a great way to pracice lower end mixed climbs before moving to the Rigid Designator Ampitheatre to try more difficult lines.

Getting There

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 the 'Spiral Staircase Smear'. 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 Description

The amount of ice varies greatly each year. Depending on how much rock and how much ice there is, it might be wise to set up a top rope.
Following an Ice Route in VailA variety of ways to get up the Spiral Staircase Smear.

You can either start in a gently angling traverse from the left towards the top, start on some thin verglas of ice to a dead tree (turf action!), or up a crack to thin smears near the right. From this point you can choose to exit left in a crack or right into an ice corner that thickens near the top.
Cleaning Up on Some Thin IceOn thin ice and rock.

Climb to the trees above and look for slings, or if there are none, find a reasonable tree and set up and anchor of your own. This can be TRed by first climbing Spiral Staircase and then setting up and anchor.

Essential Gear

A single 60m rope will suffice. A standard mixed rack with stubbies will be needed as well as rock pro (nuts and cams).

Spiral Staircase Smear (M4-5 WI3-4)

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