Ski Mountaineering Camp in the San Juans
Big mountains, big adventure
Held in the majestic San Juan Mountains, this camp is perfect for skiers and snowboarders who would like to further develop skills in mountaineering and combine backcountry skiing techniques. During the course we will ascend and descend several classic San Juan summits near the highway 550 corridor. This particular alpine location is perfect for developing ski mountaineering specific techniques and providing opportunities for ski/board descents.
We may also use the Yankee Boy Basin and the Sneffels Range for this program, an unbelievable ski mountaineering destination in Colorado and the San Juans, also offering a great range of classic climbs/descents.
The time of year provides opportunities for splendid spring corn skiing, or the chance to do some really great powder skiing in the high alpine bowls if we receive stormy weather. Many of the ascents and descents we will target for this course are either inaccessible during the winter months, or too hazardous given avalanche conditions during that time of year.
- Skiing on technical alpine terrain
- Snow climbing techniques
- Equipment selection and proper use
- Review Route finding and navigation
- Review Trip planning and preparation
- Review Spring condition avalanche awareness and timing
- Mountain weather and conditions forecasting
- Ski crampon, boot crampon, and ice axe use
- Rappelling and improvised alpine anchors
- Ski anchors and belaying
- Light overnight systems and shelters
Instructor knowledge and teaching method was excellent. Drew provided appropriate information needed, demonstrated the task, then allowed us to perform the task (tying anchor points, setting mechanical anchors, etc) and critiqued our performance in a professional manner. – Wes H.
Ski Mountaineering Camp Itinerary
Course participants will meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides headquarters in Ouray at 1500 to finalize paperwork, perform gear checks, and be introduced to the curriculum we plan to cover on the program including goals and objectives for each participant. Stay in local Ouray hotel.
Today we will do a full day ski tour in the Red Mountain Pass area to review Touring Fundamentals, Navigation, Tour Planning, and gather relevant snowpack data as it relates to the current avalanche forecast for planning future ski descents. Stay in a hotel in Ouray.
Course participants will meet at SJMG office for morning departure at 07007 for the days objective. The day is spent accomplishing a relatively smaller peak objective to focus on skill acquisition and other course curriculum. The group will then establish a backcountry camp in either Yankee Boy basin (Mt. Sneffels area) or Paradise Basin (Ophir Pass area).
Ski mountaineering objective with the focus being travel to the next camp location over a variety of complex terrain. Guides and course participants will identify a suitable ski mountaineering objective for the day and successfully carry out a tour summiting a nearby peak. Backcountry camp.
Ski mountaineering objective. Simulate technical glacier travel considerations and rescue protocols. Course close and certificate presentation in Silverton or Ouray.
Ski Mountaineering Equipment List
- Backpack: Internal frame, 50-65 liters. Guides’ pick: Varient 52
- Touring skis and boots: Skis with alpine-touring or telemark bindings. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Revert w/ Dynafit bindings
- Skins: for aforementioned skis
- Avalanche Transceiver: Guides’ pick: BCA Tracker 2
- Avy shovel: metal blade is a must
- Alpine ice axe: 55-65 cm. Guides’ pick: Raven Ultra
- Crampons: general mountaineering crampons. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Sabretooth
- Ski crampons: to fit your skis/bindings
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops to fit over layers of clothes. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Couloir
- Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth
- Belay / rappel device: ATC or similar.
- Helmet: Guides’ pick: Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Vector
- Socks: Wool or synthetic ski socks
- Base layers: Polyester or silk bottom and top
- Mid-weight top : Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Shell pants: hard shell or soft shell. A pair with side vents are best. Guides’ pick: OR TrailBreaker
- Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Furio
- Gloves: a pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium weight gloves
- Down jacket:
- Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
- Neck Gaiter or Balaclava: optional, but nice to have
- Sleeping bag: 0 – negative 20 rating
- Sleeping pad (2): one foam one, one inflatable
- Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; with bottle insulators. Guides’ pick: Nalgene
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
- Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
- Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
- Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
- Down booties
Prior basic skiing and/or snowboarding experience is required. Participants should feel comfortable skiing black diamond runs at a ski resort. Participants should also be in good physical condition. Participants should also have completed formal avalanche training, Level 1 or higher.
1Before Your Trip
Skiing and/or squats: do it. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.
2Follow Up Programs
After completion of the trip I was ecstatic. I had pictures I was posting online and showing friends. I would absolutely do another trip. – Michael W.
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 suite you best for this trip!
- Box Canyon Lodge
- Ouray Chalet
- San Juan Chalet
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and instruction with AMGA Certified Guides
- Shelter, stoves, ropes, rock gear
- Avalanche probe, shovel, and beacon, boots, skis, and climbing skins are available for rent from our shop for an additional cost.
- Not Included:
- Hotel costs before, during or after the courses
- 3% land use surcharge
- trip cancellation insurance
- personal climbing, skiing, or camping equipment, or gratuities.
- 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.