Watch David Roetzel solo steep ice routes in East Vail, Colorado, in the video below. On March 13, 2014, he left the rope at home to climb 15 Vail ice routes in one day.

American climber and writer Chris Van Leuven reported about the story in 2014 on

Van Leuven had received some images from photographer David Clifford. “I open them up, pause for a moment, then do a double take—wait, is he climbing all these routes including The Fang WI5 without a rope?” said Van Leuven. “I wanted to know more.”

Van Leuven reached out to Roetzel, who told him, “I wanted to solo all 16 pitches that day but the last route had really dried up. Three of these have mixed starts.”

The mixed routes include hard climbs such as 7th Tentacle, a 30-metre M7 WI5. “Soloing pure ice in good shape is really calming and peaceful, but it has potential for chaos,” Roetzel said.

“Mixed climbing is more stressful as holds break, and tools slip as your pick is not buried in ice. I really enjoy it—too bad it’s [really] dangerous. Now that I did it, it’s something that is checked off the list.”

Roetzel has been climbing for nearly 20 years now. The year before his single-day push, he soloed The Fang for the first time. Van Leuven noted, “In 1988, at age 18, Roetzel split to Colorado for the skiing and started climbing rocks in the spring of 1989 in Eldorado Springs and Boulder Canyon.

“He started climbing ice in winter of ’97-’98. Before repping, Roetzel was an ice-climbing guide in Vail. He soloed some rock, but he preferred to solo vertical ice.” For more on Vail ice climbing visit here.

Roetzel returned with a camera crew later to capture the video below. This was not taken on the day of the climb and it does not show all of the routes. But it’s pretty bad ass!

Vail Solos

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