Jeff and I each have some leave to use before the end of the year, so we decided to head to Vail, Colorado, on a Friday and see how the ice was coming in. As we got to the Nordic heated bathroom parking lot, we noticed a group of three or four ice climbers heading to the Rigid Designator/Spiral Staircase area. We had planned on going to the Spiral Staircase, but didn't want too much company and examined the Pumphouse Falls with binoculars from below. It definitely had enough climbable ice, so we changed our plans and proceeded due south to the Pumphouse Falls directly above us.
The flow wasn't nearly as fat as when we climbed back in April. We each led the pitch in traditional style three times and top-roped the route for two more runs. It was a good day of practicing lead on some more difficult ice that either one of us had probably led. Jeff looked strong in his new Grivel Rambos, while I continue to lead with only a leash on my left hand.