Private Alpine Guiding & Instruction
Custom Programs in the San Juans
The San Juans are an alpinist’s paradise. From early May through September there are dozens of excellent objectives for every skill and adventure level. From moderate scrambles to 14,000 foot summits, to steep snow and ice couloirs on seldom visited peaks. Our corner of Colorado sees much less traffic than many other parts of the state, and we often have the peaks to ourselves. Depending on what type of adventure you are looking for, there are many seasons and challenges to choose from.
Our guides are all excellent mountaineering instructors, with intimate knowledge of the complexities of the San Juans. Every year we start folks off kicking their first steps and tying their first knots. We specialize in organizing custom itineraries, trips, courses, and program for individuals or groups. Our unparalleled access to the terrain in the San Juan Mountains gives us the ability to offer a wide range of programming options and destinations. Nearly all of our guides are AMGA Certified in one or more disciplines.
1 Mountain Day (MD):
$399 for 1:1
$199 for each add’l person
A Mountain Day (MD) is characterized by backpacking trips in the San Juan Mountain Range that do not require technical climbing (ropes, harness, etc.) of any kind.
2Porter Fee (optional):
$250 per porter
Let a porter help to carry your gear into the mountains to aid in your ability to maintain energy throughout the trip. This is a popular add on to our trips in Chicago and Vestal Basins.
* For train access trips there may be an additional $90 fee per guide and/or porters.
(Let us take care of all the details!)
- Trip Food (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner): $40 per person per day
- Trip Food (Breakfast & Dinner only): $30 per person per day
- Climbing and/or Group Rental Equipment: Cost varies according to needs.
- Train Tickets (for trips requiring train access): $100 per person
I just wanted to drop you a note to say that I had a great time with Eitan. He went out of his way to make sure that I learned a lot, had a great time, and had a chance to really push myself. He was very knowledgeable, professional, and supportive. I hope to be back in the future – maybe with my kids!” – Matt L. Private Ice 2011
Just a few options
- Private Jagged Mountain Climb
- Private Vestal Peak Climb
- Private Alpine Climbing Course
- Private Wilson/El Diente Climb
- Single day ascent of the West Buttress on Snowdon Peak (13,077 ft.)
- Other custom trips and itineraries
Contact our office today or submit a trip inquiry to start planning your trip today!
Alpine Climbing Equipment List
- Backpack: Internal frame, 50-80 liters. Guides’ pick: Osprey Aether 60
- Sleeping bag: Down or synthetic bag rated between 15-30 degrees with compression stuff sack. Guides’ pick: Neutrino Endurance 400
- Sleeping pad: Guides’ pick: Thermarest NeoAir
- Bowl, spoon, cup: Plastic/lexan
- Pocket knife: 2-3 inch blade, simple, light
- Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; bottles or bladder. Guides’ pick: Nalgene or Osprey
- Water purification system: We recommend simple iodine tablets, but pumps are acceptable. Guides’ pick: Potable Aqua
Clothing and Personal Equipment
- Hiking/Alpine boots: Sturdy, waterproof, comfortable boots. Please contact us with questions or further recommendations.
- Socks: 2-3 pair of medium weight wool or synthetic blend socks.
- Base layers: Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Soft shell pants: warm enough for cool mornings and nights, yet light enough for warm days. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Soft shell jacket: light weight. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Insulated vest and/or jacket: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Helium
- Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
- Headlamp: with extra batteries. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Spot
- Toiletries: Toilet paper, baggie for used TP, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
- 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…
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Boots: Hiking boots, or alpine boots – many options. No tennis shoes.
- Crampons: General mountaineering crampons (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
- Mountaineering Axe: 60 – 70 cm mountain axe (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
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
This trip is a strenuous trip conducted at altitudes above 10,000 feet. Therefore, previous experience hiking in the mountains and/or multi-day backpacking experience will be very helpful to you on this program. Though the actual climbing level required for this trip is not difficult, the best training regimen would include a mixture of cardiovascular fitness training (running, biking, hiking etc.), and muscular/core fitness exercises. The addition of some Yoga/stretching exercises will help to insure that you maintain good muscular flexibility as well.
For the Chicago Basin 14’ers you should be ready for:
- Hiking approximately 6-7 miles per day with up to a 40 lb pack at altitudes between 8,000′ – 11,000 ‘
- 8 – 10 hour summit days with a lighter “day pack”
- Wilderness living
2Follow Up Climbs
I found this to be a great experience and enjoyed all of the personnel and guides associated with San Juan – particularly Matt Pickren! – Steve K. 2011 Private Program
Durango & Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Durango is located in the SW corner of Colorado, at the intersection of the sandstone towers of the desert, and the jagged, San Juan Mountains. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip.
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 Durango – La Plata County Airport. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. Many hotels offer a free shuttle pickup. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango. 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.
- Denver, CO: 6 hours
- Albuquerque, NM: 3 hours
Hotels: Durango 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! Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.
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 trip leadership
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, etc.)
- Not Included:
- Transportation to Durango or Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before or after the courses
- Mountain food
- 5% land use surcharge
- Trip cancellation insurance – recommended
- Personal backpacking/alpine climbing clothing
- Costs associated with early returns, weather delays, or other factors beyond our control
- 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.
The guides were professional, knowledgeable, and friendly. The office staff was also great and very helpful. Thanks for a great trip and I look forward to more trips with San Juan Mountain Guides. – Trevor Y. Chicago Basin 14’ers 2011