Ice Climbing

Vail Ice


The ice climbing in Vail is famous worldwide, mainly because of the famous pillars
Rigid Designator and The Fang. These, and other climbs, dribble out from
the aquifer under Battle Mountain. I have not yet had the nerve to attempt Designator,
let alone The Fang. I have been there numerous times, the first with inadequate tools
in about 1996. While Alissa & Brianna waited for me in the van, I ran up to the start of Spiral
and soloed up some 15 or 20 feet, and haplessly fell off. Luckily, there was alot of
snow at the base, so I bruised little more than my ego.

I returned in 2004, once with Stacy Bender, another time with Kevin Siebke. Both times we
stared with awe at the pillars in the amphitheater, then tucked our tails between our legs and
hurried over to Spiral Staircase. This being the first time since I'd fallen off, I was a bit skittish,
(most of my partners will tell you I am always that way). I think I put 6 ice screws in the
seventy-five-foot route, which is a bit much!

It looks like it has claws!

Rigid Designator*

'How much farther??'

Ben on Spiral Staircase
3 February 2004*

The Pencil is beyond the gulley above Spiral Staircase.

Spiral Staircase
below, with
The Pencil above.*

Some brave soul on the Designator (not me!).

Designator Amphitheater
above Vail *

WHAT is he still doing there!?

Screwing around
on the Staircase...*

I came back with Kevin Siebke the next time, feeling a little more confident. He lead the Staircase,
and I lead The Pencil. I didn't think I could ever be that scared again, but there I was... We also
top-roped a serious mixed route called Secret Probation, which... well, I could barely get off the
ground. Kevin, who is a very strong climber, completed the route, and even got himself a little souvenir...

Kevin has impeccable technique.

Kevin leading the
Spiral Staircase,
22 February 2004

Making short work of it...

I always enjoy
watching Kevin climb.
22 February 2004

This route gets beaten out by late winter.

Setting up for
the exit moves
22 February 2004

Again. This is how ya do it.

Stemmed out on
the upper section.
22 February 2004

A little gift from the Battle Mountain gods...

Kissed by the ice
on Secret Probation,
22 February 2004

One for your baby book, man...

Smilin' big for
Mom & Marni!
22 February 2004
* Photos 2004 Stacy Bender

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Someday, Designator... somedayyyy...