Intro to Ice Climbing

Introduction to Ice Climbing Course Ouray, CO

The Ouray Ice Park

Ouray Ice Climber

Based in the renowned Ouray Ice Park, we offer North America’s most comprehensive and thorough 2 day Introduction to Ice Climbing Course in Ouray, CO.  Our ice guides are the best in the business when it comes to instructing new climber’s in the art of waterfall ice climbing.  This is the program we recommend for first time ice climbers. These courses take place in the Ouray Ice Park, and begins on low-angled terrain and ventures onto steeper terrain as climbers’ comfort levels increase.  The guides enjoy teaching people how to climb, not just how to follow a guide all day. Climbing movement and technique, gear use, and decision making are all taught and tailored to an individual’s pace.

In 2017/2018 we are offering our 2-Day Introduction to Ouray Ice Climbing course on both Thursday/Friday and Saturday/Sunday.  The Ouray Ice Park can get crowded on the weekends, so scheduling your course on Thursday/Friday offers you the opportunity to avoid some of the weekend crowds and learn in a more relaxed environment.  Many participants also combine this program with our 2 day Intermediate Ice Course.

  • If the dates of our scheduled courses do not fit your availability, keep in mind that we can schedule Private Courses that do.
    Ouray Ice Climber

Skills Covered

By the end of this course you will be familiar with setting a top-rope in a sling shot setting, confidently belay and lower a climber, be able to utilize effective climber communication terminology, and be able to climb Grade 3-4 ice climbs.

  • Ice Climbing Gear & Clothing
  • Knots & hitches and their use
  • Belaying, lowering, and rappelling
  • Anchoring
  • Ice Climbing technique on routes up to WI 4


Just wanted to drop you a line and express how much I thoroughly enjoyed your ice class. It was fun to spend some time with a climber of Andres ability. He was a terrific instructor and a joy to be around. You have a great service and I will be back again….Thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable two days.– S. Morgan, Basic Ice Dec. 2015


Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online

Intro to Ice Course Itinerary

Ouray Ice Park

Day 1

Meet at 0730 at our shop in at 725 Main St. in Ouray. We recommend grabbing breakfast and/or lunch from Backstreet Bagel.  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, Anchoring, Screw placement, belaying, knots, and tons more.

Day 2

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. 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.

Ice Climbing Equipment List

  • Water Bottles: 2 liters
  • Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
  • Day Pack: Approximately 30 – 40 liters.
  • Lunch Food & Snacks

Technical Outerwear

  • Socks: A pair of heavy wool or polypropylene.
  • Base Layers: Top and bottoms. Midweight, synthetic material.
  • Mid-Layer: Versatile fleece or similar mid-layer piece.
  • Soft Shell Jacket & Pant: 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

Climbing Equipment

Provided by SJMG, you are welcome to use your own.

  • Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
  • Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
  • Belay / Rappel device: ATC or similar.
  • Climbing Helmet
  • Boots: Leather insulated 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

Whorehouse Ice Climber

Familiarity with basic climbing principles such as knots, belaying, rappelling, and rock climbing technique can be very helpful for our Intro Course participants.  Though not required, prior rock climbing experience will help you to acquire and assimilate the information covered in our ice climbing course progression as quickly as possible.

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.

View Larger Map

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!

Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:

Ice Climber Ouray

  • 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.

Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online


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