Ice Climbing Courses
Both our Introductory and Intermediate/Advanced Ice Climbing courses take place over two full days in the Ouray Ice Park. Courses are lead by AMGA-trained or certified guides, who will provide expert instruction and first-hand knowledge with climbers. The schedule is organized so that climbers, if interested, can take both courses back-to-back over four consecutive days. By taking both courses, it’s our hope that a fit climber will be able to go from never having kicked a crampon into ice to climbing steep Grade WI4+ ice routes and navigating mixed climbs with a solid level of proficiency.
Intro to Ice Course
Our Intro to Ice Course is intended for anyone interested in learning the skills necessary to efficiently climb moderately steep ice. If you are first-time climber who is curious about ice climbing, or an experienced rock climber looking to expand to frozen routes, this course is a great way to test it out and take the initial steps to develop a foundation for the sport.
The course is an introduction to top rope ice climbing. It focuses on ice climbing basics, including proper ice climbing technique, equipment, terminology and communication, top rope belay and lowering, and risk management. Our pedagogy, developed over decades of instructing ice climbers, will provide the building blocks for efficiently climbing WI3 and some WI4 routes.
Intermediate/Advanced Ice Course
If you have climbed ice several times—guided or unguided—our Intermediate/Advanced Ice Course will help further develop the skills necessary for climbing consistently steep ice. This course is geared toward the experienced rock climber who already possesses a lot of vertical awareness and rope skills, as well as the novice ice climber hoping to up their climbing to the next level.
Our goal is to have you feeling comfortable on WI4 to WI4+ terrain. Ice climbing is less intuitive than rock climbing, so learning skills to economize your movements and move efficiently are critical for having success on steeper ice. The course can also be taken in conjunction with the Intro to Ice Course, or booked on a private, custom basis at any time throughout the season.
If you have questions or are looking for more advanced instruction for mixed ice climbing, multi-pitch routes or hard alpine objectives, please contact the Mountain Trip office at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153.
The following is a list of guide-recommended gear for ice climbing with Mountain Trip. In general, you’ll want a selection of warm layers that work together. Clothing designed for a day of skiing is fine; however, dedicated ice climbing clothing is better. Whatever gear you choose, please make sure it fits well so you fully enjoy your experience in the mountains.
We provide all of the necessary technical climbing equipment: ice tools, helmet, harness, crampons and mountaineering boots. (Gaiters, lightweight gloves, parkas and backpacks are available upon request). All of our equipment is top-of-the-line gear. Climbers are also welcome to bring and use their own gear upon inspection by one of our guides.
In addition to what we provide and have available to rent, there is also a good selection of gear available in Telluride and Ouray. If you have any specific questions about what you might need, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Mountain Trip office.
|Climbing Boots||Technical routes or steep day climbs are often best climbed by wearing lightweight insulated boots. Waterproof and breathable, these give a climber more "feel" than do double boots. The caveat is that they are hard to keep dry over time, so certain double boots are better for technical alpine routes. Our favorite double boot for climbing technical routes is the La Sportiva Spantik, and a great single boot is the La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX.|
|Gaiters||Gaiters are required unless your pants fit tightly around your boot, many boots have built in gaiters.|
|Base Layer Top||(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers. Long sleeve or short sleeve base layers work well.|
|Light Fleece Hoody||Light/mid weight fleece (or wool) top with a hood. You will wear this over your light weight base layer.|
|“Puffy” Light Insulated Jacket||Size this layer to fit over your light fleece hoody and wind shell, and it is often layered underneath your expedition parka. Synthetic is easier to deal with and not worry about getting wet than a similar down filled layer. A hood on this layer in mandatory! *** Guides Tip! Use two lightweight puffy layers in the early season or if you are worried about being cold. A Micro or Nano Puff jacket with a Ultra Light Down Jacket or Vest allows versatile layering options.|
|Hard Shell Jacket||This jacket should be large enough to go over your light puffy jacket layer. You do not need the burliest/heaviest Gore-Tex jacket you can find, and we prefer the lightest weight versions.|
|Soft Shell Wind Jacket||Many high alpine peaks are cold and dry. We are huge fans of very lightweight softshell wind jackets for high, dry, cold peaks. Weighing just a few ounces, these can be carried in your pocket or in the lid of your pack for rapid deployment. This layer is used in addition to your more waterproof hard shell jacket.|
|Base Layer Bottoms||(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers.|
|Light Fleece Bottoms||As the air thins and the wind picks up, you'll want a bit more insulation on your legs. This should be a slightly warmer layer that can go over your base layer bottoms when it gets cold.|
|Soft Shell Pants||Soft Shell pants are the workhorse on Denali, you'll be wearing these day in and day out on most expeditions. On peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, you can wear them in lieu of your hard shell pants for much of the expedition.|
Head and Hands
|Heavyweight Gloves||Warm, insulated gloves are the day-to-day workhorses on cold peaks or for cold days of ice climbing. We prefer gloves with removable liners for ease of drying.|
|Medium Weight Gloves||A Mid-weight glove will generally be a softshell type glove with some light synthetic insulation.|
Packs and Duffels
|Climbing Pack||Suitable climbing packs will be 30 - 45 liters in volume and have the capability of easily attaching crampons, and ice axes if used for a day of ice climbing or if needed for a peak ascent. For a day climbs, any pack in the 30 - 45 liter range will work, but we recommend that you consider the weight of the pack carefully. Overnight, alpine routes require larger (45L) packs that also let you strap your sleeping pad to the outside.|
|Climbing Helmet||Make certain it fits over your warmest hat and under the hood of your shell. The super-lightweight foam helmets are great, but can get crushed in your duffel bags during travel, so protect your lid!|
|Climbing Harness||An aspect of technical climbing is hanging in a harness. Having a padded, comfortable harness will make you much happier than will a thinly padded, alpine harness, and, should you find yourself at a semi hanging belay, your legs are less likely to fall asleep from lack of circulation.|
|Crampons||Select a pair 12-point Mountaineering Crampons that fit your boots well. Step-in or strap versions work equally well; just make sure they fit your mountain boots and overboots. You may need to lengthen your crampons to accommodate your overboots, please make sure you can make this adjustment in the field. Aluminum crampons are not acceptable for expeditions.|
|Belay/Rappel Device||A plaquette style belay/rappel device.|
|Two (2) One-Liter Water Bottles||You will need two, 1-liter plastic water bottles. Please bring wide-mouth bottles, such as those from Nalgene, as these are much easier to fill than bottles with small openings.|
|Lip Balm||Bring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).|
|Sunscreen||The sun can be intense in Colorado, so please apply high SPF sunscreen prior to your trip and bring a small tube along to reapply during the day.|
Intro to Ice Course
- Develop body positioning and climbing technique for efficient movement on moderate ice
- Be able to tie into a rope using a figure 8 and double-check the knot
- Provide a safe top rope belay and lower for a climbing partner
- Proper top rope anchor construction
- Utilize climbing commands (such as “on belay”) and learn specific ice climbing terminology
- Build familiarity with ice climbing equipment
- Understand winter layering systems and learn techniques for self care in cold environments
Intermediate/Advanced Ice Course
- Comfortably climb WI4 and aspire to begin climbing WI5
- Become familiar with placing and removing ice screws for protection
- Be able to build and clean anchors suitable for top rope ice climbing using proper practices
- Develop the skill set required for following multi-pitch ice routes
- Read and evaluate ice conditions and terrain