North American Classic Climbs

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Stairway to Heaven

(Silverton, Colorado Area)

Beta Images Slide Show

This fine moderate seems to be a favorite of everyone who does it, whether expert or relative newcomer to the sport of technical ice climbing. The complete route provides a good workout due to its length. It is characterized by short (up to a half rope) steep sections of grade 3 ice alternating with ramps and terraces that make for comfortable belays. It has a longer season than climbs in neighboring areas (e.g., Ouray) because of its starting elevation of over 10,000 ft. A suitable climb for a motivated but relatively inexperienced leader. It is popular, but can support multiple parties due to the snow-covered terraces, which keep the falling ice under control. Check conditions - the route, the approach, and the descent sometimes see killer avalanches after big storms and during spring meltoff.


Snow & Ice




USA, north of Silverton, CO





WI 3+ (guide says 4, you judge)


Route Descriptions & Maps:

USGS topographic map

First Ascent:



Trip Reports:

Johnson 2/03