Intermediate Ice Climbing Course Ouray, CO
Ouray Ice Park & Ouray Backcountry
For those who have had several days of ice climbing instruction, and are interested in furthering their skills for more difficult ice climbs, alpine ascents, or developing leading skills we offer a 2 day Intermediate Ice Climbing course.
This program begins with a brief review of introductory techniques but rapidly progresses to advanced levels of instruction in areas such as improving efficiency and skill on steep ice, learning mixed climbing techniques like “dry tooling”, learning the mental and physical skills to become a lead climber, or learning systems for multi-pitch climbing. This ice climbing course commonly utilizes the Ouray Ice Park for some or all of the instruction. Depending on weather, conditions, and other group factors we may also attempt to climb in the Skylight Area.
In 2015/2016 we will be offering the Intermediate Course on Saturdays/Sundays as well as select select Mondays/Tuesdays. This is a great option for those who would like to avoid the weekend crowds in the Ouray Ice Park, or take the Intermediate Course in conjunction with the Basic Ice Course for an incredible 4 day ice climbing progression. We offer a low 3:1 client-to-guide ratio on this program to facilitate the ability to spend maximum time on the ice refining technique.
Additional Backcountry Ice Day
- Many participants book a third day of ice climbing with a Private Ice Guide to attack one of the area’s classic multi-pitch backcountry ice routes and make use of all the climbing skills practiced earlier in the program.
We would like to provide you with our appreciation of our two-days climbing with Mark. We really liked his approach during the first day, multiple short climbs focusing on technical aspects, excellent supportive comments and advice from Mark. Second day we experienced a great climb in Silverton and, indeed, we were pushing our limits. So, ice-climbing in Ouray turned out as we were hoping for. All the best during the ice-festival and best regards to Mark. – Eva & Peter Private Ice 2014
Intermediate Ice Course Itinerary
Meet at 0730 at our shop in Ouray at 725 Main Street (across from Ouray Mountain Sports). If you would like to order breakfast or lunch try to get here a couple minutes early. 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, advanced anchoring concepts, ice screw placements, advanced belaying techniques, new 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 and present course 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 liters
- Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Day Pack: Approximately 30 – 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, you are welcome to use your own.
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking Carabiners: 2 Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Non-Locking Carabiners: 4 – 6
- Belay / Rappel device: ATC or similar.
- Climbing Helmet
- Ice Climbing Boots
- Crampons: Step in crampons with vertical front points.
- Ice Tools: Technical 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
Participants on our Intermediate Ice Course have typically already completed a Basic or Intro level ice climbing course, or have acquired similar skills through personal experience and training. The Intermediate Course ventures onto increasingly steep ice terrain, so forearm and upper body strength become more relevant on a course of this nature. Training specific upper body muscles – including the forearms, biceps, triceps – and other associated musculature is a good investment as you progress as an ice climber. Other emphasis on core strength and breathing exercises – such as those practiced in a Yoga class – can also be helpful.
2Follow Up Climbs
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.
- TelluRides offers shuttle services from Montrose to Ouray.
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 Policy.