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Rigid Designator Amphitheatre

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
"Dolly Madison" S 
7th Chakra T,S 
7th Testicle T,S 
Aberrant Behavior aka LoweKey Lunacy 
Amphibian T 
Built for Comfort S 
Choss Corner S 
Cupcake Corner S 
Dr. Delicate T 
Fang, The T 
Fatman and Robin 
Flying Fortress, The S 
For The Ladies S 
Godzilla T 
Hooded Cobra 
Hurt Locker S 
King Cobra/King Cobra Extension S 
Little Higher S 
Lucky S 
Octopussy T 
Pitch Black T 
Red Beard S 
Red Bull and Vodka S 
Reptile T 
Rigid Designator T 
Rigid Designator Steps, The T 
Seventh Tentacle T 
Somnambulist T 
Superfortress S 
Thang aka Frigid Inseminator, The T 
Unsorted Routes:

Rigid Designator Amphitheatre Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 39.64212, -106.33005 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 37,865
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Chris Zeller on Nov 30, 1999
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Mike on Black Mamba. Photo: Brian Aitken.


Vail’s Rigid Designator Area is arguably the most famous ice climbing area in Colorado. Although the climbs here are not the longest or hardest in the state, the combination of aesthetic beauty, difficulty, route density, and accessibility make this the premier spot to push your climbing to a new level—regardless of your ability level. Indeed, it was on these climbs that pioneers pushed climbing to new levels in defining pure waterfall and mixed climbing as a sports of their own. Octopussy, Jeff Lowe’s M8 testpiece, is just to the right of the Designator (a world-famous climb in and of itself). The area boasts a variety of slabby ice sheets, incredible ice pillars, and moderate to heinously difficult mixed climbs. Despite the amount of activity in the area, new routes are still being done on the overhanging rock and thin smears of ice that occasionally form above. All of the climbs here are single pitch sport-ice climbs with excellent anchors at the tops of the climbs. All the climbs can be toproped, although leading them first is the only reasonable way of getting to the tops of most of the climbs.

Getting There 

Take I-70 West out of Denver to Vail Ski Area. Find a legal parking spot. Don't walk on the cross country ski tracks.


work in progress, please be patient

A. Dr. Delicate, 8 WI5 M6+, 1p, 100', bolts & gear.
B. Teriebel Traverse, M7?, 1p.
C. Pitch Black, WI4-5 M9, 1p, bolts.
D. Aberrant Behavior aka LoweKey Lunacy, WI6+ M7, 1p, 100', gear & screws.
E. Rigid Designator, WI4-5, 1p, 115', screws.
F1. Somnambulist, M9?, 1p, bolts, gear, and screws.
F2. Resurrection, WI4-5 M7-8, 1p, 90', gear & screws.
G. Unknown, 1p, bolts.
H. Unknown, 1p, bolts.
I. Little Higher, M8-, 1p, 100', bolts.
J. 7th Chakra, M8+, 1p, 100', bolts & screws.
K. 7th Testicle, WI5- M6+, 1p, 85', bolts & screws.
L. Seventh Tentacle, WI5 M5, 1p, bolt, gear, & screws.
above L. Octopussy, M6-8, 2p, 150', bolts & gear.
above L. Reptile, WI5 M9-10, 1p, bolts.
M. Little Thang, WI5 M6, 1p, bolts & screws.
above M. Lucky, WI5+ M9?, 1p, 120', bolts.
N. The Fang, WI5-6, 1p, 135', screws.
OM. Cupcake Corner, M5, 1p, 70', bolts.
P. "Dolly Madison", M6+, 1p, 85', bolts.
QP. Tatranka, M7, 1p, 80', bolts.
RN. King Cobra/King Cobra Extension, M11-, 1p, 115', bolts.
R. Hooded Cobra, M8-, 1p, 80', bolts.
S. Red Bull and Vodka, M11, (P1 M8+), 2p, bolts.
T2T1SRN. Superfortress, M13, 1p, 115', bolts.
T1. Red Beard, M12, 1p, 115', bolts.
T2T1+. The Flying Fortress, M13, 1p, 115', bolts.
T2. Amphibian, WI 5+ M9 (P1 WI5 M8), 2p, 105', bolts.
UT. Godzilla, WI5 M8, 1p, 105', bolts & screw.
V. Project.
W. Built for Comfort, M9, 1p, 85', bolts.
X. Fatman and Robin, M9, 2p, gear & bolts.
Y. Little Higher, M7+, 1p, bolts.
Z. For the Ladies, M9, 1p, 85', bolts.
AA. Steel Balls, M9, 1p, bolts.
BB. Fuck The System, M8-9, 1p, bolts.
CC. Hurt Locker, M8, 1p, 40', bolts.
CC. Choss Corner, M6, 1p, 40', bolts.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.0 miles from here

32 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',12],['3 Stars',16],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Rigid Designator Amphitheatre

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Rigid Designator Amphitheatre:
Rigid Designator   WI5-     Trad, Ice, 1 pitch, 115'   
King Cobra/King Cobra Extension   M11-     Sport, Mixed, 1 pitch, 115'   
For The Ladies   M8-9     Sport, Mixed, 1 pitch, 85'   
Tatranka   M7     Mixed, 1 pitch, 80'   
Hurt Locker   M8     Sport, Mixed, 1 pitch, 40'   
Fatman and Robin   M9     Mixed, 2 pitches   
Built for Comfort   M9     Sport, Mixed, 1 pitch, 85'   
Godzilla   WI5 M8     Trad, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch   
Hooded Cobra   M8-     Mixed, 1 pitch, 80'   
"Dolly Madison"   M6     Sport, Mixed, 1 pitch, 85'   
The Fang   WI5-6     Trad, Ice, 1 pitch, 130'   
7th Testicle   WI5- M6+     Trad, Sport, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch, 85'   
Red Bull and Vodka   M11     Sport, Mixed, 2 pitches   
Octopussy   WI6 M7-8 R     Trad, Mixed, Ice, 2 pitches, 150'   
Amphibian   WI5+ M9     Trad, Mixed, Ice, 2 pitches, 105'   
The Thang aka Frigid Inseminator   WI5+ M5+ R     Trad, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch, 70'   
Seventh Tentacle   WI5 M6     Trad, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch   
Cupcake Corner   WI4-5 M5     Sport, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch, 70'   
Little Higher   M8-     Sport, Mixed, 1 pitch, 100'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Rigid Designator Amphitheatre

Featured Route For Rigid Designator Amphitheatre
Rock Climbing Photo: BG belaying in willows as hard-man, top-secret cli...

Resurrection WI5- M8-  Colorado : CO Ice & Mixed : ... : Rigid Designator Amphitheat...
Start about 20 feet right of Designator. Work up rock steps to an obvoius rock corner. Ice drips usually help movement upward. Stoppers, smaller cams, a fixed pin and screws lead to a restful ledge. BG has climbed this route with twin doubles and also a single line. Be very careful of rope drag and use long runners. From ledge, place a smaller TCU in perfect crack and rest. The scary part is about to begin. Clip to old pins as you turn up from ledge. Vertical cracks and horizontal p...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Rigid Designator Amphitheatre Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The Little Thang.
The Little Thang.
Rock Climbing Photo: Justin on The Fang, Mike on Black Mamba (Photo: Br...
Justin on The Fang, Mike on Black Mamba (Photo: Br...
Rock Climbing Photo: Justin climbing Amphibian (Photo: Brian Aitken)
Justin climbing Amphibian (Photo: Brian Aitken)
Rock Climbing Photo: The Fang seems to be the star of the Amphitheatre ...
The Fang seems to be the star of the Amphitheatre ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Noah on The Fang, pretty heavily edited in terms u...
Noah on The Fang, pretty heavily edited in terms u...
Rock Climbing Photo: Noah on The Fang, pretty heavily edited in terms u...
Noah on The Fang, pretty heavily edited in terms u...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rigid Designator Amphitheatre 12/06.
BETA PHOTO: Rigid Designator Amphitheatre 12/06.
Rock Climbing Photo: Amphitheatre area.  Designator on the left, Fang o...
BETA PHOTO: Amphitheatre area. Designator on the left, Fang o...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Dez, Dec. '09.
The Dez, Dec. '09.
Rock Climbing Photo: Some badass free soloing The Fang with the rope to...
Some badass free soloing The Fang with the rope to...
Rock Climbing Photo: Designator area as of 11/18/03.
BETA PHOTO: Designator area as of 11/18/03.
Rock Climbing Photo: The night crew.
The night crew.
Rock Climbing Photo: Left to right: purple: King Cobra/King Cobra Exten...
BETA PHOTO: Left to right: purple: King Cobra/King Cobra Exten...
Rock Climbing Photo: Newer right side routes.
Newer right side routes.

Comments on Rigid Designator Amphitheatre Add Comment
Show which comments
By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 4, 2002
The Rigid Designator Area is pretty fat as of 3/3/02. Rigid Designator and Fang looked way more serious than usual, though. Cold temperatures had the ice very brittle and the flows were very chandeliered. The Fang was running with water. So, what else is new? Spiral Staircase was in much better shape than the aforementioned routes. Secret Probation looked pretty righteous as well. Enjoy.
By Mark Hammond
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Dec 23, 2002
Climbed here today. RD is fat and easy. Lots of pick holes and steps for feet. For a challenge, climb it with no tools. Fang is skinny but connected. It's probably still a bit stupid to lead but fun to TR. Not much on the mixed walls. 7th Tentacle is doable but has a sporty start, Teriebel Traverse is dry as are Amphibian, Fatman & Robin, etc. Some new totally dry lines on the 7th Tentacle/Little Thang wall. Spiral Starcase is broken. Have to dry tool up 20' to get to the ice.
Jan 19, 2003
The Fang and the Thang look good. The Thang isn't yet touching the ground but it working on it, 3 bolts are still exposed just right of the flow. The Designator is fat. The left side looked like steep stairs to a ladder. The right side isn't chopped out but has a lot of chandelier. Pro was ok and good stances are [available], but the two aren't found together.
By djcrux
Mar 3, 2003
Spiral Staircase is relatively thin, but it makes for a super fun start. The Fang, Designator and Seventh Tentacle are all in good shape. They are probably a whole grade easier due to the abundance of solid hook placements.
By rich purnell
Dec 30, 2003
Reptile is a jug fest. there is actually one move that may baffle you but is still juggy and that is going from the lower ledge to upper im sure you will be fine. there are over 15 other lines in vail that are worthy as well and others that are possibly harder but who knows. Have fun
By rich purnell
Jan 2, 2004
Lay down that AC crap and show your name. Get real and stop taking the fun out of climbing.
By Joe Keyser
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Jan 20, 2004
Rigid Designator, and surrounding climbs were formed up nicely as of 1/19/04. The left side of the curtain between the pencil, and the eraser formed up all the way to the ground, making a steep and exciting pillar. In my past trips to "the cave", this curtain was never close to touching all the way down. Felt about WI5+? The Eraser also seemed pretty steep comparable to past seasons (slightly overhanging hooks eased with stems off the curtain). I really wanted to stick-clip hang the draws on the mixed climb Quasimodo and go for it, but I just didnt have the guns to try that after a few laps on the blue stuff!!! Looks sweet though! Cold temperatures made for some rock hard ice in places. Spiral Staircase, and Slabbut are both in enjoyable shape, although stiff WI4 in the 6 degree temps we had on Monday! A partner, and good friend spotted some huge vertical ice up near here while snow-shoeing 2 miles up a deep gully this weekend. Details may come soon...
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Jan 23, 2004
Sadly, the house just below the Fang/Desi amphitheatre is up for sale. Prior owners have been climber friendly. Mr. N? Any climbers out there interested in a 5BR, 4.5 BA, house for 3.2M?
By Izza
Mar 16, 2006
Any info on the ice conditions in east Vail as of mid March? When is the end of the season there usually?

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