Introduction to Ice Climbing Course Ouray, CO
The Ouray Ice Park
Based in the renowned Ouray Ice Park, we offer North America’s most comprehensive and thorough 2 day Introduction to Ice Climbing Course in Ouray, CO. Our ice guides are the best in the business when it comes to instructing new climber’s in the art of waterfall ice climbing. This is the program we recommend for first time ice climbers. These courses take place in the Ouray Ice Park, and begins on low-angled terrain and ventures onto steeper terrain as climbers’ comfort levels increase. The guides enjoy teaching people how to climb, not just how to follow a guide all day. Climbing movement and technique, gear use, and decision making are all taught and tailored to an individual’s pace.
In 2013/2014 we are offering our 2-Day Introduction to Ouray Ice Climbing course on both Thursday/Friday and Saturday/Sunday. The Ouray Ice Park can get crowded on the weekends, so scheduling your course on Thursday/Friday offers you the opportunity to avoid some of the weekend crowds and learn in a more relaxed environment. Many participants also combine this program with our 2 day Intermediate Ice Course.
- If the dates of our scheduled courses do not fit your availability, keep in mind that we can schedule Private Courses that do.
By the end of this course you will be should be familiar with setting a top-rope in a sling shot setting, confidently belay and lower a climber, be able to utilize effective climber communication terminology, and be able to climb Grade 3-4 ice climbs.
- Ice Climbing Gear & Clothing
- Knots & hitches and their use
- Belaying, lowering, and rappelling
- Ice Climbing technique on routes up to WI 4
Just wanted to drop you a line and express how much I thoroughly enjoyed your ice class. It was fun to spend some time with a climber of Andres ability. He was a terrific instructor and a joy to be around. You have a great service and I will be back again….Thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable two days.” – S. Morgan, Basic Ice Dec. 2010
Intro to Ice Course Itinerary
Meet at 0730 at our shop in at 725 Main St. in Ouray. We recommend grabbing breakfast and/or lunch from Backstreet Bagel across street. Your Course Leader will give you a quick briefing, help you fill out a couple forms, and fit you in whatever demo equipment you might need.
You will then carpool to the Ouray Ice Park for a full day of instruction. Return to the shop is usually between 1500 and 1600 depending on the group. The first day generally covers: Movement skills for up to WI4 terrain, Anchoring, Screw placement, belaying, knots, and tons more.
Meet at 0730, carpool to the ice park. Review fundamentals from Day 1, and then take off on more advanced climbs and alpine scenarios designed to maximize your learning through hands-on practice and feedback. We usually try to do at least one route on this day that maximizes dramatic photo opportunities as well. Leave the park around 1530. Check in rental gear and do a group debrief and give out completion certificates.
We have honed our curriculum and itinerary through many years of ice climbing instruction. These courses offer a great way to introduce yourself to the sport of ice climbing in a fun, more affordable group atmosphere.
Ice Climbing Equipment List
- Water Bottles: 2 1 liter size Nalgene w/bottle insulators.
- Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Day Pack: Approximately 35 – 50 liters.
Guides’ Pick: Osprey Mutant 38
- Gaiters: N/A for ice boots with integrated gaiter systems. Guides’ Pick: OR Crocs
- Lunch Food: Bring a selection of energy bars, GU’s, Clif Shots, and other high calorie quick energy foods.
- Socks: A pair of heavy wool or polypropylene.
Guides’ Pick: Smartwool Mountaineer
- Long Underwear: One pair of tops and bottoms. Midweight, synthetic material.
- Mid-Layer: Versatile fleece or similar mid-layer piece.
Guides Pick: OR Centrifuge Jkt
- Soft Shell Jacket: Shoeller or similar soft shell jacket.
Guides Pick: OR Alibi Jacket
- Down Jacket: Optional, but nice to have.
- Shell Jacket: Be sure that it will fit over all your other clothes. Gore-tex recommended.
- Shell Pants: With side zippers are best. Gore-tex recommended.
- Soft Shell Pants: Schoeller or similar fabric pants. Guides Pick: OR Cirque Pant.
- Gloves: A pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium weight gloves.
- Hat: Warm pile or wool hat. Try to size it so that it will fit comfortably under your helmet.
- Balaclava or BUFF: A must have for cold days and wind.
- Sunglasses: Category 3 or 4 lenses
- Sunscreen and Lip Balm: At least SPF 30.
- Digital Camera
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Belay / Rappell device: ATC or similar.
- Boots: Leather insulated ice climbing boots.
- Crampons: Step in crampons with vertical front points.
- Ice Tools: Ice climbing tools
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
1Before Your Trip
Familiarity with basic climbing principles such as knots, belaying, rappelling, and rock climbing technique can be very helpful for our Intro Course participants. Though not required, prior rock climbing experience will help you to acquire and assimilate the information covered in our ice climbing course progression as quickly as possible.
2Follow Up Climbs
- Intermediate Ice – Ouray, CO
- Lead Seminar – Ouray, CO
- Mixed Climbing Course – Ouray, CO
- Ruth Gorge Customs
We very much enjoyed our time in Ouray! The private 2-day climbing program was impressive. Our guide, Mark, was/is an excellent teacher. He took the time to build the skills for each of us, listened to the concerns and course corrected to ensure we were achieving what we wanted to achieve. Basically, Mark rocks! We look forward to coming back. – J. Bowers, 2011 Private Program
Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
- Montrose, CO: 45 mins
- Durango, CO: 2 hours
- Denver, CO: 6 hours
- Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
- Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours
Hotels: Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!
- Guiding and instruction
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, ice screws etc.),
- Harness, helmet, ice tools, crampons and ice boots
- Transportation to Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before, during or after the courses
- 2% land use surcharge
- Trip cancellation insurance – recommended
- Personal climbing clothing
- Guide gratuity
Registration and Cancellation:
- Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.