Self Rescue

Ice Climbing Self-Rescue Course

Essential Partner Rescue Skills

Lead climbing anchor

If you have already gained experience ice climbing – either by taking our Intro or Intermediate Ice Climbing course progressions, or by other means – then you’re probably beginning to think about venturing out into the backcountry to experience the thrill of a multi-pitch ice climb.  Being able to lead or follow an ice climb is one thing, but being able to deal with a leader fall and a potential self-rescue is another matter.

Self-reliance is an integral component of of becoming a competent ice climber and we have developed this course with that end in mind.  This course will give you the hands-on experience necessary to develop confidence in your ability to deal with the many potentially challenging, and sometimes dangerous, situations lead climbing can present you with.  Every climber should possess these skills prior to venturing out onto backcountry ice climbs!

Course Progression

On this program – taught by exclusively AMGA Certified Guides – you will learn basic through advanced concepts as they relate to climber self-rescue.  Skills such as escaping the belaying, ascending the climbing rope, and lowering/rappelling scenarios will be covered thoroughly so that by the end of the course you have developed a concrete skill set that you will be able to apply should the situation call for it.  The acquisition and integration of the skills covered in this course can literally mean the difference between a relatively easy trip to the emergency room for a broken ankle, or a major mountain rescue requiring the participation of countless mountain rescue individuals to effect safe passage down a climb.

Private Guide Right For You?

If the dates of our scheduled Ice Climber’s Self-Rescue don’t work for you, then consider scheduling the 2 day program with a Private Ice Guide that can instruct you on the dates you prefer and tailor the program to your specific needs, skills, and goals.

Just wanted to drop you a line and express how much I thoroughly enjoyed your ice class. It was fun to spend sometime with a climber of Andres ability and he was a terrific instructor an a joy to be around. You have a great business and I will be back again….Thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable two days.– S. Morgan, Basic Ice Course Dec 11-12, 2010


Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online

Self-Rescue Course Itinerary

Self Rescue

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 across street. 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: knots & hitches, belay tie-offs, rope ascension, and anchoring considerations.

Day 2

Meet at 0730, carpool to the ice park. Review fundamentals from Day 1, and then take off on more advanced scenarios designed to maximize your learning through hands-on practice and feedback.  Topics on this day will include lowering scenarios, raising scenarios, multi-pitch rappels with a victim, and more.  At the end of the day you will 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.

Self Rescue Equipment List

  • Water Bottles: 2 liters
  • Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
  • Day Pack: Approximately 35 – 50 liters.
  • Lunch Food & Snacks

Technical Outerwear

  • 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.
  • 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 to thin 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

Climbing Equipment

  • Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
  • Locking Carabiners: 5 – 6 Pear shaped, wide mouth.
  • Non-Locking Biners: 8 – 10 non lockers – wire gate preferred
  • Belay / Rappel Device: Auto locking device.  BD ATC Guide or similar.
  • Climbing Helmet
  • Ice CLimbing Boots
  • Crampons: Step in crampons with vertical front points.
  • Ice Tools: Technical ice climbing tools
  • 30 ft of 6 mm prussik cord: We will cut specifically at training site
  • 2 cordelletes: 6 or 7 mm
  • 2 Double Length Runners & 4 Singles: Spectra

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

This course is best undertaken if you have gained previous ice climbing experience either by taking our Intro and Intermediate Course progressions, or by other means personally.  While the physical demands for the self-rescue course are perhaps lower than any of our climbing courses, participants should come prepared and be in excellent physical condition.  In addition, reading books such as Climbing Self Rescue by Tyson & Loomis will at the very least introduce some of the most important topics we will be covering on the program.

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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