Steep Ice Climbing Techniques
Learn to Climb WI 5/6
Steep waterfall ice. As intimidating as it can be, there is nothing quite like topping out a WI 5 pitch feeling like you just crushed it. With our new 2 day Steep Ice Techniques Course, we can help you reach that goal. For years we have been teaching ice climber’s from around the country how to climb waterfall ice. During that time we have developed our ability to effectively communicate to aspiring ice climbers how to climb what they initially may have felt was not possible for them. Due to our unique approach and time-tested methods for communicating the subtleties and nuances of specific climbing techniques, we are able progress your ice climbing skills in a way that no other guide service in this country can.
The combination of our terrain, teaching style, and supportive atmosphere is an unbeatable combination for those who are looking for a program and venue that they can use to progress their climbing ability to a point where WI 5 is no longer intimidating, but rather welcomed as a great challenge on that day – for which you have the capability, strength, and confidence to rise to. Join us this winter on this cutting-edge, forearm-pumping course that will make you a better climber. Period.
Private Guide Right For You?
If the dates of our scheduled Steep Ice Course don’t work for you, then consider scheduling the 2 day course with a Private Ice Guide that can instruct you on the dates you prefer and tailor the instruction to your specific needs, skills, and goals.
Just wanted to drop you a line and express how much I thoroughly enjoyed your ice class. It was fun to spend sometime with a climber of Andres ability and he was a terrific instructor an a joy to be around. You have a great business and I will be back again….Thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable two days.” – S. Morgan, Basic Ice Course Dec 11-12, 2010
Steep 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 a movement assessment with your guide, steep waterfall ice techniques demo by the guide, coaching and refinement on your technique on routes up to WI 5 or WI 5+.
Meet at 0730, carpool to the ice park. Review fundamentals from Day 1, and then take off on more advanced climbs (WI 5 – 5+) in the ice park designed to maximize your learning and technique integration through hands-on practice and direct feedback. Your guide will emphasize the lessons learned from Day 1 and by the end of Day 2 you will have a solid understanding of the technique and strength requirements to climb hard ice. 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.
Steep Ice Course Equipment List
- Water Bottles: 2 liters
- Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Day Pack: Approximately 35 – 50 liters.
- Lunch Food & Snacks
- Socks: A pair of heavy wool or polypropylene.
- Base Layers: Tops and bottoms. Midweight, synthetic material.
- Mid-Layer: Versatile fleece or similar mid-layer piece.
- Soft Shell Jacket & Pants: Shoeller or similar soft shell jacket.
- Down Jacket or Insulated Parka
- 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.
- 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
- Personal First Aid Kit
Provided by SJMG, however, you are welcome to use your own.
- Harness with Ice Clippers: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking Carabiners: 2 Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Non-Locking Carabiners: 4 – 6
- Belay / Rappel device: ATC Guide or similar.
- Climbing Helmet
- Ice Climbing Boots
- Crampons: Step in crampons with vertical front points.
- Ice Tools: Technical ice climbing tools
- Cordelettes: 2, 6-7mm, 20 feet lengths
- Spectra Runners: 2 double, 4 single
- Quickdraws: 4 – 6
- Ice Screws: 4 – 8 of varying lengths
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
Participation in the Hard Ice Course assumes that you have gained previous ice climbing experience, either by enrolling in one or more of our course progressions, or by other means. This program will tax you to your physical limits and top roping ability. Therefore, you will want to be in top shape prior to taking this course. Check out Training for Ice Climbing 101 on the Cold Fear website, courtesy of Aaron Mulkey. Additional training such as Yoga classes and/or Cross Fit training can also be an excellent investment in your mental and physical preparedness prior to enrolling in this course.
2Follow Up Climbs
- Expert’s Ice Seminar – Ouray, CO
- Cody, WY Ice Climbing
- 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!
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and instruction
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, ice screws etc.)
- Harness, helmet, ice tools, crampons and ice boots
- Not Included:
- Transportation to Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before, during or after the courses
- 5% 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.