'The Fang' is truly an amazing work of nature and an awe inspiring ice column that forms naturally as the centerpiece to the Amphitheater. About 140 feet, this ice column used to form on an irregular basis, but now sees some help ever season in the form of a dangling rope to aid in the ice accumulation.
Considered a mega-classic by any standard, this pillar can form in various conditions. It can be pencil thin or form into a fat pillar. The bottom consistently forms as an amalgamation of cauliflower petals that can be hard to protect and is many time the crux of the climb.
The upper section is fairly straight forward and consists of steep to slightly overhanging ice that provides lots of exposure. Easy for mixed masters and those comfortable on WI5, this intimidating pillar can be quite a challenge for those venturing into steep ice.
Getting to Vail is easy. Check out the main Vail Ice Page for further details. It is hard to miss the amazing pillar if it is in. It forms in the main section of the amphitheater.
Climb the base of the pillar, navigating around and up through the cauliflowered section to the base of the steep ice, (many times the crux)amd then climb the steep ice until you reach a tree with rappel anchors.
It is important to evaluate the pillar before climbing. If it is unstable or broken, do not climb it!!
'The Fang' can be top-roped by walking around to the anchors, but make sure that no one is leading below before throwing the rope.
Depending on how comfortable you are leading steep ice, take as many long ice screws as you want. A few screamers might be wise as well. As always when ice climbing, wear a helmet!! A 70 meter rope is needed to lower safely.