Private Ice Guiding & Instruction Ouray, CO
Ouray Ice Park & San Juan Backcountry
The flexibility of our Private Ice Guiding and Instruction makes this one of our most popular trip options in the winter. The world famous Ouray Ice Park is the best place to both learn new and improve your existing ice climbing skills. But the Ice Park is, as they say, only the tip of the iceberg.
The classic backcountry ice routes in our backyard offer beautiful climbs to test your ability and experience in the winter wilderness. In addition to our programs that focus purely on ice climbing instruction, we also guide many of the classic San Juan backcountry ice climbs. Climbing objectives range from one-pitch wonders to 900+ foot multi-pitch ice climbing like Stairway to Heaven in Silverton. A popular program is to book two days of ice climbing instruction in the Ouray Ice Park and then a third day for a classic backcountry ice climb.
Classic San Juan Ice Routes
The San Juan Mountains have enough backcountry ice routes to keep even local ice climbers busy for years. Many classic routes, such as Gravity’s Rainbow, are very dependent upon proper conditions as temperature or avalanche conditions dictate the ability to safely ascend and descend the climbs.
Additionally, some routes – such as Dukes of Hazard in Silverton’s Eureka Canyon – do not come into condition each and every season. Be patient and flexible with your dates, route choices, and be prepared to get out of bed early – the classic routes in the Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride backcountry await!
I just wanted to drop you a note to say that I had a great time with Andres. 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
Private Ice Guiding Itinerary Options
The options for private guided and instructional ice climbing in Ouray and the San Juans are practically limitless. Whether this is your first time climbing and would like to experience the customization available with a 1:1 private guide, or you have a group that would like to organize a few days of climbing instruction – we have the guides, the experience, and the local knowledge to put together the perfect program to suit your needs. The ice climbing season starts in November and runs through March.
We specialize in all forms of custom guiding and also offer the opportunity to climb all of the San Juans’ classic routes in Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride. We can organize itineraries for single day climbs, or multi-day trips that combine both instruction in the Ice Park and backcountry routes in the San Juans. No experience is required, as we specialize in working with the “never evers” to the seasoned ice climber.
Below is a list of many of the routes that we offer for guided ascents:
- The Ouray Ice Park
- Skylight Climbs (Skylight, Choppos, Slippery When Wet, Slip Slidin’ Away
- The Ribbon (WI 4)
- Bird Brain Boulevard (WI 5)
- The Talisman (WI 5+)
- Gravity’s Rainbow (WI 5)
- Kennedy’s Gully (WI 4)
- Horsetail Falls (WI 4)
- The Ames Ice Hose (WI 5)
- Bridalveil Falls (WI 5)
- Stairway to Heaven (WI 4)
- Whorehouse Ice Hose (WI 4)
- Gold Rush (WI 4)
- Hoser’s Highway (WI 5)
- Direct North Face (WI 4+)
- And more!!
Ice Climbing Equipment List
- Water Bottles: 2 liters
- Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Day Pack: Approximately 35 – 50 liters.
- Lunch Food & Snacks
- Socks: A pair of heavy wool or polypropylene.
- Base Layers: tops and bottoms, mid-weight, synthetic material.
- Mid-Layer: Versatile fleece or similar mid-layer piece.
- Soft Shell Jacket & Pants: Shoeller or similar soft shell jacket.
- Down Jacket: Optional, but nice to have.
- 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, however, you may use your own.
- Harness with Ice Clippers
- Locking Carabiners: 2 Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Non-Locking Caraboiners: 4 – 6
- Belay / Rappel Device: ATC Guide or similar.
- Climbing Helmet
- Ice Climbing Boots
- Crampons: Step in crampons with vertical front points.
- Ice Tools: Technical ice climbing tools
- Cordelettes: 2, 6-7mm, 20 feet lengths
- Spectra Runners: 2 double, 4 single
- Quickdraws: 4 – 6
- Ice Screws: 4 – 8 of varying lengths
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
There are no formal prerequisites required to participate in a private ice program. However, we do suggest that you be prepared for whatever program you have decided to book. Guests who will be climbing ice with us for the first time need only bring a great attitude and a desire for fun and adventure. Guests who have reserved 3 days of private guiding on local classics such as Stairway to Heaven, Ames Ice Hose, and other backcountry climbs should come prepared to exert themselves physically in a manner that allows you and your guide to climb the routes safely, and with good style.
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 or fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.