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Vapor Trail 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 85'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Alan Nelson and Guy Lords, 1990
Page Views: 2,757
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Mar 5, 2001

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Trailing Vapors. Photo by Fred Knapp.

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Vapor Trail begins off the ground as the second route to the right of the ugly looking, trad grunge on the left side of the Red Slab. This is not a beginner's climb. While the climbing never gets harder than 5.9, all of the bolts feel spacey. The climbing is also a bit devious being filled with underclings, side pulls, and continuously sloping feet. Nonetheless, the climbing is great for the grade and worth all of two stars. Vapor Trail shares its anchor with Bumblies for Breakfast (5.10a) and will set up a good top rope for both climbs.


QDs only. This 85 foot route needs only six draws and something for the double bolt anchor at the top.

Photos of Vapor Trail Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Eva climbing Vapor Trail.
Eva climbing Vapor Trail.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff Gunter just starting to climb.
Jeff Gunter just starting to climb.

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 13, 2016
By Jesse Ryan
Jan 1, 2001

Saw a climber fall and bust/badly sprain both ankles on this route. He couldn't walk, so he/we tyroled across the river.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 1, 2001

If you are not comfy on 5.9, don't do this route! The 15 ft runouts will scare the hell out of you.
By Joe Keyser
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Sep 10, 2001

Cool, I thought getting to bolt #1 was the scariest part! Not so much the moves but the rock quality. The wedged in blocks are good but don't seem that way....
By Jeff Lockyer
From: Canmore, AB
Sep 16, 2001

Agree with consensus about the rock quality. There ARE many loose block on the route and should not be used for feet, but there are many feet and other holds to use, so just relax and look around, before you know it another bolt will be upon you. I would give this route 1 star, not as good as others on the wall. Not a good beginner's lead as stated before, just too many chances to take a big fall, be careful.
By Jad Josey
Feb 26, 2002

I just wanted to give kudos to Alan Nelson for putting up this fantastic route. There is, indeed, some space between the bolts, but the climbing is positive and quite spectacular. It was a pleasure to climb such a great line with, in my opinion, a much more ethical bolting style. Thanks, Alan.
By Jad Josey
Feb 28, 2002

Just to clarify my earlier comments about a more "ethical" bolting style: I was speaking more about the spacing of the bolts rather than the manner in which they're installed. I agree with your points 100%. There are many routes which I feel are greatly "over-bolted," where bolts are placed no more than one body length apart. This can, in my opinion, greatly diminish the asthetic of the climb. Please understand that I am not promoting highly dangerous climbs with lots and lots of space between bolts; I am merely stating that, on this climb in particular, the bolt spacing seems quite adequate and enhances the thrill of the climb. Thanks again, Alan, for putting up this fun one for the rest of us.
By Nate Weitzel
Feb 28, 2002

If bolts are placed to closely for your taste, you can always skip them....
By Edward Jenner
May 16, 2002

I think this is a nice climb and worth doing. Last time I tried it I actually found it even more testy than Bumblies for Breakfast, even though it has (had) one more bolt (I guess it has two more now). I know the first bolt was up there a bit, but I felt like if you were not solid getting to it, you probably shouldn't be on the climb. On the other hand, removing the groundfall potential is probably a good thing, but what about Bumblies? If you botch the second clip the belayer better start running! I can't imagine someone would botch it, but I would also have though falling before the first bolt on Vapor Trail would be rare. So does this mean Bumblies needs an extra bolt (or two)?

Yes, these climbs are potentially dangerous, but they are not devious, nor under rated. Anyone can see from the ground that the bolts are spaced a ways apart which is a good indication not to do the climb unless you are solid at the grade. Will the extra bolt lull someone who hasn't climbed this route into a false sense of security (if they haven't checked out this site)?
By Edward Jenner
May 16, 2002

OK, so you can tell from my last comment that I hadn't looked at the Bumblies for Breakfast entry. I guess my question about the bolts has been answered.
By Andy Mauk
Aug 4, 2002

[Awesome] route. It is over graded though, it had to be .8 at least. The first is a little bit never racking because the runouts are big and if you fall you could hurt real bad, but if you are climbing .9 well, then you will have no problem with this route. [SUPER] COOL.
By Stephen Marsh
From: Thornton, CO
Sep 25, 2007

Just climbed this last weekend, my first time at Red Slab. Thought the route was excellent. Nothing seemed loose on it as someone early stated. From the discussion here it sounds like 1 or 2 bolts have been added. It would definitely be freaky if the current first bolt wasn't there. The bolt spacing was perfect, really added to the excitment. 2 stars seems a low rating for this climb. The climbing stays interesting throughout, but with plenty of rests between the tricky spots. The moves require thought and searching. A definite 9, don't agree with Andy on that. Glad this one wasn't bolted as close as the routes at HWC (left). And to Nate: if bolts are spaced too far for you, you can always skip the route!
By nickb
From: bouderado
Jul 20, 2008

Just climbed this yesterday, way too hot to do right now. A good route, the chain on the right is looking a little worn.
By JohnM
From: Arvada, Colorado
Apr 21, 2010

Thought this route was great. My first outdoor sport lead, found the bolts to be spacey but not outrageous if you have a good head. I wouldn't recommend this as a beginner route.
By Dave Clark 5.10
From: Golden, CO
May 23, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

A fun and thoughtful route. Thoughts like, "There's got to be a more useful hold than that one." and "I wouldn't want to fall here." Pretty consistent for the grade.
By Matt Pierce
From: Denver, CO
Nov 13, 2016

It would be nice if MP would eliminate all of the super OLD beta comments about routes. At any rate - did this route today and thought it was surprisingly GREAT - on par with the best 9s in the canyon - including Lunch Money and others. If you are a solid 5.9 leader and looking for solid terrain, this is worth the visit.

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