From the bottom of Morgul Valley the path rose up a climbing ledge. After a rounded angle a sudden narrow opening appeared in the rock wall. Between two walls the stairs had been cut, almost as steep as a ladder. As the stairs ascended the rocky walls rose ever higher until finally they ended in a deep dark passage that continued to climb but without steps and with just a gentle slope.
When Frodo and Sam followed Gollum up the Straight Stair on 12 March, T.A. 3019 they found the steps to be narrow, unevenly spaced, and often treacherous: some worn and smooth at the edges, some broken, and some cracked when stepped upon. Although the enclosing walls gave some sense of security, the steepness of the stairs gave the climbers an unnerving sense of the long black fall behind them. Eventually the hobbits were grasping the steps before them with their fingers and forcing their knees to bend and straighten.