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Secret Probation 

WI5 M6

Type:  Trad, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch, 80'
Original: WI5 M6-7 [details]
FA: Dave Tucholke and Scott Hovet in 1991?
Season: winter/early spring
Page Views: 3,434
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Jan 1, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (41)
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Jan. 2007.


Great little mixed route with potentially a stout start. It starts just right of Spiral Staircase.

The start is slightly overhanging & balancy with 3 bolts. Sometimes, there is enough ice that you can't find the 3rd bolt. Beware of decking potential. Move right onto ice when you can...or even straight up in an ice chimney. The level of where you can go right and onto the ice varies and determines the difficulty on any given day. 1 rope. Rap off.

Over the years, the soft limestone has changed with heavy traffic leaving grooved holds and positive edges & some feel the difficulty has decreased. You be the judge.

Note, this route can vary from a pure ice climb at WI4+ to a desperate mixed climb at up to M7. Each ascent is different. For some in the past, the has been a point of contention. Whatever the rating, it's a fun route.


3 bolts, then screws, stubbies useful, possibly sling ice.

Toprope Protection 

Slings. There is now a rope slung around a tree/bush system with rings.

Photos of Secret Probation Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Griz getting onto the ice on May 5th, 2010.
Griz getting onto the ice on May 5th, 2010.
Rock Climbing Photo: Carl Pluim on "Secret Probation" in typi...
Carl Pluim on "Secret Probation" in typi...
Rock Climbing Photo: 12-24-2004.
Rock Climbing Photo: Fat conditions, M5 WI4+, only 5 M-moves, 1/22/4.
Fat conditions, M5 WI4+, only 5 M-moves, 1/22/4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Phil Wortmann leading the lower mixed section.
Phil Wortmann leading the lower mixed section.
Rock Climbing Photo: Secret Probation.
Secret Probation.
Rock Climbing Photo: Secret Probation in phat! Jan,, 2011.
Secret Probation in phat! Jan,, 2011.
Rock Climbing Photo: Secret Probation as a fully formed pillar.  Januar...
Secret Probation as a fully formed pillar. Januar...

Comments on Secret Probation Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 11, 2011
By djcrux
Jan 5, 2004

My previous posting seems to have dissolved. Does anyone else think that WI5 M6/7 is a bit steep for this climb? I've done it when it was lean too, and it still wasn't all that hard. Just curious if anyone thinks that its a bit inflated?
By Andy Johnson
Jan 14, 2004

I have a comment on two of the above comments. First of all djcrux. This route consistently forms A LOT fatter than it did on the first ascent. Thereby making the grade seem really inflated. Look in Jeff Lowe's Ice World or whatever the book is called to see the climb in its original condition. I have seen Secret Probation form as a grade 4 climb all the way to the ground. As for the enchainment, 4 years ago Jeremy Everett soloed every pure ice climb in Vail not including Booth Creek Falls in a day. Tragically, the climbing world lost Jeremy several years later when he moved to L.A. and away from the ice.
By Andy Johnson
Jan 18, 2004

A bold step djcrux. Maybe too bold. But I support your down-gradery. It is, perhaps, a neccessary step toward the future of mixed climbing in Vail. However, keep you "V" grades the hell away from ice climbing, they have no place here.
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Jan 23, 2004


You were right! It is very fat this year. 2nd fattest I've seen. Went up yesterday & found it only took 5 moves to get to the ice. Further, you can get a no feet, L cheek rest about 8 moves up. And the ice is so fat you can basically just hook happily to the top. Big fat foot holes too. Such is the nature of mixed climbing. Different every time! Perhaps we should modify the rating WI4-5+, M4-7....
By jason seaver
From: Estes Park, CO
Jan 28, 2004

Boy Andy, what a sicko you must be! A slow day of cragging? You gotta be kidding. I mean, what's YOUR time for the enchainment (or whatever hardmen like you call it)? Just cause Tobin doesn't climb as fast as you doesn't mean you have to put down his link-up aspirations. Pick on someone your own size (or speed)!
By Dougald MacDonald
Jan 31, 2004

Craig Luebben: Bridalveil, Ames Ice Hose, Designator and the Fang, solo in one day. Now that's an enchainment.
By alpinglow
From: city, state
Jan 31, 2004

Craig's day has a good bit of driving in it too, doesn't he live in FC?
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 2, 2004

Luebben is in Golden.
By Andy Johnson
Feb 3, 2004

Hey Roy, my mom, sister and girlfriend all say hello. I don't really remember falling up anything,but I do remember a pretty good fall down. Just so everyone knows, Roy and I are good friends. We have a trip planned for Alaska this spring where I will be dragging him up all the hard pitches. One question Roy. Did you start Pinch Overhang with both feet on the problem or did you do the traditional start?
By Andy Johnson
Feb 6, 2004

Tobin, that is definitely an impressive time. It's even more impressive that it was not solo. We spent one spoonaliscous night on Astrodog right at the top. However, I do see how one could be benighted looking for the start of Comic Relief. Have you ever tried to find the start of Debutante's Ball?
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 12, 2004

Roy has a girlfriend? I heard he spent New Year's Eve watching movies with another guy... a guy from... Texas????
By Rob Glasscock
Feb 29, 2004

Roy has a girlfriend? I heard he spent New Year's Eve watching movies with a guy. To make it even worse I heard the guy was from Texas. What is THAT all about? Apparently when Roy isn't downrating classics he is hanging out with Cowboys.
By Princess Mia
From: Vail
Dec 2, 2006

It is actually pretty funny that I have never looked at this site. But a correction is in order. The first ascent was by Dave Tucholke and Scott Hovet in 1991. I have some old photos of the classic event. Dave and Scott did it ground up, putting in a pin and bolts, without any "top rope beta". I remember reading an article long ago where Greg mentioned the pin and bolts on his "first acsent". Well sorry to break the news. The FA is not his!!!
By Eran Shileikis
From: Dysfunctional, CO
Dec 9, 2006

ADMIN: Hey Leo (or someone?), could we change the rating on this route to M6-7 WI5? Right now it only reflects the Ice Climbing aspect, but it definitely has a Mixed start. Cheers!
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Dec 9, 2006

Got it, Aaron.
By richP
Feb 16, 2007
rating: WI5 M6- PG13

If my memory is correct, the last time it formed in "original" condition was around '96 or '97. Since that time, the route has been gigantic compared to the time around the FA. M6 works but these grades are hard to diagnose anyway. How do FAs get mixed up anyway?
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Feb 16, 2007

Rich, FA info can get mixed up since there hasn't been a singular database, word of mouth is notoriously unreliable, and some folks just climb & don't publicize much (e.g. see the Skidmark Left, Roadrash, Skimark Right entries). Thankfully, this is a dynamic database that can be improved with time and the help of folks who have more info. Thanks, all!
By richP
Feb 17, 2007
rating: WI5 M6- PG13

That's what's so rad about the forum, killer site as well.
By Bryan Gilmore
From: New England
Dec 28, 2007
rating: WI4+ M5

This may well be one of the lamest discussions ever.
By Princess Mia
From: Vail
Dec 11, 2011

Just climbed SP today, and it was super fun. For a shortie like me, several dry-tooling moves are necessary before reaching the ice. I couldn't stick the ice until after the first bolt and just before the second. There is ice to the left, providing a nice rest before stepping over to the right. The top is just super fun climbing.

IMHO, if the route was like it used to be back in the early '90s, i.e. no holes in the soft limestone from many climbs, well then it would be a lot harder. But hey, things change, and when it was first put up conditions where different. There used to be a piton at the beginning, but it has been pulled out. Not needed anymore anyway.

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