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Stairway to Heaven 

WI4

   
Type:  Trad, Ice, 7 pitches, 1200', Grade III
Consensus: WI4 [details]
FA: unknown
Season: early winter-winter
Page Views: 16,848
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Feb 11, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (62)
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Last pitch!

Description 

This is a classic, stepped moderate...beautiful, big, fat, blue! and 900+ feet. Just pick very stable snow conditions for this one. Go up the road past Silverton to Eureka as far as it is plowed. This obvious line lies across the drainage. Contour 20 minutes to the base. Belay out of the line of fire.

P1. 1st pitch is 60m of fat blue gets you to a good stance. 55m gets you to a tree belay.

P2. Fun, thinner variations right exist on the 2nd pitch.

P3. 3rd pitch is 55m of steeper, big blue leads to a semi-hanging belay.

P4. 4th pitch is 60m starting with lower-angled waves and then snow lead you to the base of the 5th pitch. Great place to soak up rays here.

P5. 5th pitch stretches 60m of beautiful, photogenic blue (can be wet). Steeper lines to the left. Here you can walk off left, v-thread, or....

P6-7. Head up 2 more WI3 pitches above. Beware on the walkoff of unstable snow. Goes into the sun in the afternoon.

Consider a spare key, should you wind up being the last party out & the cold temperatures make your car key brittle....

Protection 

Bunch of screws & lack of brains.


Photos of Stairway to Heaven Slideshow Add Photo
V-thread rap, good stuff, lol.
V-thread rap, good stuff, lol.
Jan.'06 good ice, 1 wet pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Jan.'06 good ice, 1 wet pitch.
Lenticulars above the San Juans.
Lenticulars above the San Juans.
STH in great shape on Feb 14th, 2004.
STH in great shape on Feb 14th, 2004.
6th/7th pitches 2/00.
6th/7th pitches 2/00.
You can see the potential avalanche danger from slopes above.  This was taken during a weekday, notice not a soul around.
You can see the potential avalanche danger from sl...
Myself struggling on P3, leaning backwards and ready to puke. December 2013.
BETA PHOTO: Myself struggling on P3, leaning backwards and rea...
Stairway view.
Stairway view.
Stairway from across the valley.
Stairway from across the valley.
5th pitch 2/00.
5th pitch 2/00.
Stairway 3rd Pitch
Stairway 3rd Pitch
2nd pitch 2/00.
2nd pitch 2/00.
The start of P3.  The crux of the entire climb on Feb 14th, 2004.
The start of P3. The crux of the entire climb on ...
1st pitch.
1st pitch.
Stairway - December 2013.
BETA PHOTO: Stairway - December 2013.
Photo taken from First Gully on 2/14/04.  Photo by Scott.
Photo taken from First Gully on 2/14/04. Photo by...
Photo taken early morning 2/14/04.
BETA PHOTO: Photo taken early morning 2/14/04.
BETA PHOTO
Phat condition 2/15/09.
BETA PHOTO: Phat condition 2/15/09.
3rd pitch 2/00.
3rd pitch 2/00.
K.N. going up the Stairway (3rd pitch).
K.N. going up the Stairway (3rd pitch).
Boots Barto  starting the first pitch. <br /> <br />
Boots Barto starting the first pitch.

1st pitch 2/00.
1st pitch 2/00.
Climber on the 4th pitch on a busy day. Can you say traffic?
Climber on the 4th pitch on a busy day. Can you sa...

Show All 34 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Stairway to Heaven Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 16, 2014
By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Feb 19, 2002

Stairway to Heaven is in really good. The ice is in good condition, with the upper flow being nice plastic. The middle flow, maybe 3rd pitch or so, is the crux of the route, but is easiest on the right. The snow is pretty deep on the approach. The decent was not too bad with regards to avalanche conditions. I screwed up and left my climbing gloves at the base. Don't know who the other folks were that I shared the route with, but if you picked them up, please drop me a line. Many thanks. Cheers.
By evan freeman
From: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Dec 3, 2002

As of 12 days ago Stairway was thin and running with water. I climbed the first pitch mixed... hopefully it's fattened up lately, but the weather has been warm.
By evan freeman
From: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Dec 9, 2002

Climbed it last Thursday. It's not as fat as the photo in the guidebook, but is fully in and a nice outing. The crux pitch is indeed vertical for a ways...
By Anonymous Coward
Dec 14, 2003

Stairway was in great shape Sunday-not too wet at all! Not a lot of snow makes the descent real easy....
By Matt Ledges
Feb 16, 2004

Tim and I finally sent this one on the 14th after being turned back last December. Everything came together, just one of those days...Blue sky, warm, no wind, quality ice, first party (of three) on the route. Snowshoes were helpful, though there wasn't much of the white stuff on the route. P1 starting to get a bit hacked out. P3 was the crux, felt like 4+. Could only get one good screw 8 feet into the 40 foot vertical start to the right. Lefthand start per Jack was the same. A bit chendeliered here, lots of air pockets. Tense. P5 fat, blue, plastic. A much welcomed finish. Reasonable walk-off and a sustained glissade down. Still smiling!
By Tim Judkins
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 16, 2004

Matt and I approached STH by crossing the drainage on a bridge near the cabin. We headed up from there and traversed northeast-ish to the climb. It may have been a bit quicker, but the normal approach is probably safer in terms of avoiding slides.
By "H"
From: Manitou Springs
Feb 22, 2010

As of 2010 February 19, SWTH is in FAT!!! Unfortunately we picked a bad weekend to head down there. Avi danger went from considerable to high. We started climbing Whorehouse, but got hammered by very heavy spindrift that knocked me off.
By Mark D.
From: Santa Fe
Apr 21, 2010

This is a great route! Maybe it was the day, but when you have 300 meters of fat ice in mid April things are pretty good. T-shirt weather and sticky placements. Still steep though on Pitch 1, 3, 5.
By Joe Tebbe
Mar 3, 2011

This was my second back country lead on ice. The conditions were great!
I lead pitch 1 & 4, Tom lead pitch 2, and Mark lead pitch 3. At pitch 4, we decided to rappel because of ice melt from afternoon sun. Next time, start earlier in AM later in the season.
By jjjust
Jan 2, 2012

We got a bit of a late start heading up at 12:30 pm, but it ended up being a good day.

By Blagoves
From: Portland, OR
Apr 16, 2014
rating: WI4+

Climbed it in late December 2013. Fat ice, P3 felt harder than a 4, bad AMS.