Ice Climbing

Ouray Ice Climbing Overview

Private Guiding and Instructional Programs

Ouray Ice Climber

San Juan Mountain Guides is the premier provider of Ouray Ice Climbing Courses and Private Guided programs. Climbing a frozen waterfall is a sublime experience. There is perhaps no other discipline of alpinism that offers such a satisfying feeling as sinking your crampons and ice tools into a vertical pillar of ice. Ice climbing began in the U.S. in the late 1960’s. Since it’s modest beginnings, ice climbing has evolved and increased in popularity in large part due to significant equipment innovations. In a word, ice climbing is Fun!

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be a body builder to climb ice. The skill requires balance and focus combined with efficient technique. When performed well, ice climbing feels and looks like a vertical dance. Our method of instruction is to assess your strengths and then teach you the proper techniques to help you excel at the sport of ice climbing. Our emphasis is on teaching, rather than telling. We pride ourselves in our ability to take novices and mold them into efficient, beautiful ice climbers.

Ice Climbing Locations

In Colorado, we guide and instruct ice climbing trips and courses in the Ouray Ice Park, Ouray Area Backcountry, Silverton’s Eureka Canyon and Telluride Area Ice. We now are offering guided climbing in Cody, Wyoming and the South Fork Valley. Southwest Colorado and the San Juan Mountains are well known for abundant ice climbing routes and impeccable conditions. From the single pitch routes of the Ice Park, to multi-pitch classics like Stairway to Heaven in Eureka Canyon, you’ll want to come back each year to hone your skills and tick off another classic route.

*If our scheduled climbs do not fit your needs, we can also schedule private dates to accommodate your schedule needs/requirements.

2017/18 Ice Course Offerings

Ouray Ice Climber
  1. Introduction to Ice Climbing Course
    Our introductory progression is the best way to become a proficient ice climber in a short period of time.  Unmatched terrain in an unmatched setting provide an excellent forum to introduce the basic principles of ice climbing.
  2. Intermediate Ice Climbing Course
    We introduce and teach the techniques used to efficiently climb steep ice (WI 4-5), as well as more advanced topics such as lead climbing.  Many of those who complete this course elect to stay an extra day or two to tackle some of the area’s backcountry classics!
  3. Ice Climber’s Self Rescue Course
    Learn the fundamentals of climber self-rescue and increase your confidence in being able to deal with some of the situations that multi-pitch climbing in a backcountry setting can present you with.  Essential skills that any climber should learn.
  4. Advanced Ice Climbing Course
    Learn techniques and tips to more efficiently climb steep ice climbs rated up to WI 5.  Improve your ability to fluidly climb steep waterfall ice and gain valuable confidence-inspiring experience.

    Ice Climbing Silverton CO
  5. Mixed Climbing Course
    Learn mixed climbing techniques from the pros – Andres Marin and Marcus Garcia.  The growing sport of Mixed Climbing is also an excellent way to expand your confidence for alpine climbing, where mixed climbing is routinely encountered.
  6. Ice Leader’s Seminar
    Our advanced course is intended for those who have already completed our basic and intermediate progression, or those who have previous ice climbing experience. The goal of this course is to help you attain proficiency as an ice leader and multi-pitch climber.
  7. Backcountry Ice Seminar
    If you’ve progressed as an ice climber to the point where following WI 5 is within your ability level and want to tick off the classic routes in the San Juans, then this is the program for you.  Ames Ice Hose, Bridal Veil Falls, Stairway to Heaven, Whorehouse Ice Hose, Gravity’s Rainbow, and/or Bird Brain Boulevard are a few of the routes that we might choose to climb on this seminar.
  8. Early Season Ice
    A great way to get a head start on your ice season.  We climb many of the backcountry routes in the S. Mineral Creek Drainage where snow later in the season effectively “shuts down” this area.

2017/18 Private Ice Guiding Options

Whorehouse Ice Hose
  1. Private Guided Ice Climbing
    Easily one of our most popular options for climber’s in the winter, we can schedule any combination of days for any size group – from 1:1 guiding/instruction to groups of 12. 
  2. Cody, Wyoming Ice Climbing
    One of North America’s top multi-pitch ice climbing destinations, the South Fork Valley offers a lifetime’s worth of ice climbing.  In addition to the quality routes, this represents excellent training for future climbing alpine climbing endeavors.
  3. Canadian Rockies Ice Climbing
    The “major leagues” of ice climbing.  North America’s classic ice climbs and a must-do destination for avid ice climbers. In 2015/16 we will offer custom dates with SJMG IFMGA Guides.

More Ouray Ice Climbing

Ouray Ice Climbing
  1. Ouray Ice Festival Clinics
    San Juan Mountain Guides is the Official Concessionaire of the Ouray Ice Park, and each year in collaboration with the Ouray Ice Park Inc., organizes over 70 unique, informative, and cutting-edge ice and mixed climbing clinics and seminars.  Each clinic/seminar is taught by a mixture of professional athletes and guides – each of whom represent the very best in knowledge and instruction about the clinics we have scheduled them to teach.
  2. Kids Climbing College
    The 2016 Kids Climbing College (KCC) will be a free opportunity for kids ages 8-17 to try the exciting sport of ice climbing. This event will be held the first Saturday of January, February, & March at the Ouray Ice Park Kids Wall. The KCC is a super fun way for youths to get a taste of this great local winter sport. The Kids Wall is a specially developed 40 ft high, 140 foot wide slab of ice located on top of the ice park with easy walking access. It features a dozen different routes with various levels of difficulty for all the kids.


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