Guided Ice Climbs in Colorado with Mountain Trip!
The San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado are home to some of the most inspiring, classic ice routes in the US. Whether you are new to the sport and seeking instruction or a seasoned alpinist, we’d love to give you a taste of the ice outside our doors.
We are a permitted guide service in the world famous Ouray Ice Park. This unique venue hosts over 200 man-made ice routes located in the stunning Uncompahgre Gorge, just steps from downtown Ouray. Most routes are less than a 15-minute walk from the Park entrance. Routes are farmed from water pipes above the gorge and are therefore almost always in really good condition. Also known as Little Switzerland, Ouray is a Mecca for ice climbing, and is also famous for it’s hot springs. With easy access, routes of all grades, and hot pools to relax in after climbing, the Ouray Ice Park is one of the best places to learn how to climb ice on the planet. There is even an area for children to learn, so bring the whole family!
Mountain Trip also holds US Forest Service Permits to guide outside of Ouray, where we have access to routes that range from 100’ to 1,200 feet long! We can also facilitate getting you onto some of the long, alpine ice climbing routes near Silverton or Telluride.
We provide instruction in the latest techniques that will help you push yourself and improve as a climber and also guide hard, challenging routes. Emphasis on efficiency and how to organize your systems will help you build a foundation, which will help prepare you for your next big route or just help you have more fun with this exciting sport.
Training Climbs and Follow Up Climbs
We are very fortunate to live and guide in one of the highest concentrations of water ice in the world. Our southwest corner of Colorado is home to numerous classic ice routes of all grades. We will work with you if you are a novice ice climber to pick routes suitable for your level of experience. More experienced climbers can access routes that will push their limits such as the iconic Bridalveil Falls (WI5+), above Telluride, the Ames Ice Hose (WI 5+ and perhaps the best 3 pitch ice route in the state).
When you feel that you are ready to take those skills onto bigger alpine routes, consider the following:
- West Face Couloir of Mount Huntington: Alaska grade V, 85-degree ice, ca. 4000’
- Ham and Eggs Couloir on Mooses Tooth: Alaska Grade V, 5.7, AI 4 ca. 2900’
- Shaken not Stirred on Mooses Tooth: Alaska Grade V, AI 5, ca. 2200’
- Deprivation on the NW Buttress of Mount Hunter: Alaska Grade 6, ED+, 90 degrees, ca. 6000’
Leashless climbing is the way! Technology has changed the sport of ice climbing and it is easier than ever to learn the skills required to get vertical in the frozen world. Ice climbing feels much more “natural” now than it did even a few years ago, and we are finding that climbers are progressing much more rapidly in the sport.
Colorado Ice Climbing Equipment List
The following is a list of necessary clothing and equipment for joining Mountain Trip’s ice climbing programs in beautiful southwest Colorado. We will provide ice tools and crampons, if you don’t have your own. We also have boots available, but we highly encourage you to bring your own, if you have a pair, as boots are the veritable foundation of having a good experience on the ice.
If this is your first time ice climbing and you don’t have the specific clothing mentioned, you can essentially wear what you would to go ski at the ski area on a cold day. If you are getting into the sport a bit more seriously, here are some recommendations.
- Long Underwear: You’ll want a good set of mid weight synthetic or Merino top and bottoms.
- Mid-weight Layer: Light fleece works well for this layer, but if you tend to run cold, consider a light synthetic such as the Patagonia Nano layers.
- Soft Shell Jacket: Soft shells made of Shoeller or similar materials work great in the cold of Colorado, where getting wet is not generally a problem. This layer should have a hood.
- Down of Thick, Insulated Jacket: Have we mentioned that ice climbing can be cold? It’s really nice to bury inside a warm down or synthetic jacket when not actively climbing.
- Shell Jacket: Sometimes the ice can drip, and a hard shell is necessary. This needs to fit over all your layers except your down or synthetic jacket. Gore-tex is highly recommended.
- Soft Shell Pants: Just like the soft shell jacket, this is an essential layer. You can get away with just a hard shell pant, but soft shells stretch and breathe much better.
- Shell Pants: Pants with full-lenth side zippers are the best, as you can pull them on over your crampons. Again, Gore-tex is highly recommended.
- Gloves (2 Pair): You really need two pairs of gloves, one thick and heavy pair that is waterproof (Gore-tex is best!) and a pair of medium weight, soft shell-type gloves.
- Hat: Wool or fleece are both fine, but we suggest avoiding Windstopper fleece, as it somewhat impedes your ability to hear. This needs to fit under your helmet, so avoid big pom-poms, or big, floppy hats.
- Gaiters: Crampons are sharp, and tend to poke holes in pant legs, tripping up climbers. Gaiters help minimize this potentially dangerous and damaging phenomenon. Boots with integrated gaiter systems like the La Sportiva Batura do not need gaiters.
- Socks: Modern boots are best fit with just one pair of heavy wool or synthetic blend socks. If joining us for more than one day, please bring a fresh pair per day of climbing.
- Buff or Neck Gaiter: It’s nice to seal out drafts, especially when the wind is howling. The Buff brand of neck gaiter is a guide favorite.
**We can provide all climbing equipment if you don’t have it, but please reserve in advance.**
- Harness: A comfortable harness with adjustable leg loops
- Locking Carabiner: Larger, pear-shaped carabiners with a locking gate are best.
- Belay / Rappel device: Tube style devices such as the Black Diamond ATC or similar. Ones that can be used “plaquette-style,” such as the ATC-Guide are the most useful.
- Helmet: There are many good ones on the market. Find the one that fits you best.
- Boots: Insulated leather single boots generally climb better than double, mountaineering-style boots.
- Crampons: It is important that crampons be of the step-in variety, with vertical front points.
- Ice Tools: Modern, leashless tools sure make ice climbing easier and more fun!
- Day Pack: Warm clothing is bulky, so you’ll need a pack of approximately 35 – 50 liters.
- Water Bottles: “It’s a dry cold in Colorado!” Please bring two 1-liter Nalgene bottles with bottle insulators, if you have them.
- Small Thermos: Optional, but it’s really nice to have a warm cup of coffee, cocoa or hot tea.
- Sunglasses: Good sport-style or glacier glasses with a category 3 or 4 lenses work well.
- Sunscreen and Lip Balm: A small tube of sunscreen and one tube of lip balm will suffice. Select something water resistant with at least SPF 30 protection.
- Digital Camera: We’ll help you get some good, hero shots!
- Disposable Handwarmers: One pair of these per day can really help keep you happy.
- Snack Food: We’ll provide a lunch for the day so please advise us of any dietary restrictions. You can bring some of your favorite snack items in addition if you would like.