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Gym to Crag

Desert Rock & Crack Climbing Camp
August 9, 2017
Rock Self Rescue
August 11, 2017

Gym to Crag

Curious about what it takes to transition from climbing indoors to scaling real rock safely? Then this is the course for you! This course is designed for a participant who rock climbs at a gym but is interested in acquiring the skills to climb outdoors.  This two day course teaches participants to lead climb, lead belay, set up top rope anchors on top and bottom managed sites, clean anchors, rappel, and lower off a sport climbing route. We also spend considerable time coaching movement, especially with regard to the difference in moving on rock outdoors versus indoors.  All experience levels are welcome! Here in Ouray we have access to venues with climbs rated 5.2 to 5.13 within a 5 mile radius of town. We also run this course in Rifle Canyon, a sport climbing mecca here on the Western Slope. We can’t wait to help you get out cragging this summer and fall.

Participant Goals for the Course

At the conclusion of the 2 day Gym to Crag Course participants will have gained proficiency in the following skills:

rexerBuild an anchor using 2 bolts
rexerClean a bolted anchor and rappel or lower
rexerUtilize effective communication and commands
rexerCompetently tie applicable knots & hitches
rexerBelay a leader and off the anchor with a plaquette or GriGri
rexerLead sport climbs up to 5.8
rexerRock climbing gear considerations and selection

2024 Dates

Reach out to set up custom Gym to Crag course. Minimum 3 people.


$549 per person

rexerNo Hidden Fees

  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • All rock climbing gear (harness, helmet, rock shoes, etc.)

Gym to Sport Climbing Itinerary

Day 1

Meet your guides at 0800 at our office in Ouray (710 Main St). Your guides will facilitate a brief introduction of all participants to understand the experience level and learning goals of the group. Based on this discussion, the guides will determine the most appropriate crag.  It is possible that the group will be divided into two separate areas. Your guides will distribute the appropriate gear for the two day course.  Once everyone has filled out waivers, and been outfitted with all the necessary gear, the group will drive or be shuttled a few miles away to begin a short approach to the climbing crag.

Once at the crag, your guides will provide instruction on lead belaying outdoors as they set up routes for the group. Your guides will then offer movement techniques applicable to the climbs. The participants will spend a few hours climbing and, where appropriate, lead belaying the guides.

At midday, the participants will learn the basics of setting up an anchor for a sport climb and cleaning the anchor. Participants will have an opportunity to practice setting up anchors and lowering after cleaning an anchor both on the ground and in a simulated mock lead. These clinics will occur as participants climb. The day will end at 1600.

Day 2

Participants will meet again at 0800 at our office in Ouray. The group will drive or be shuttled to the climbing crag for the day. The day will begin with a review of day one’s learning objectives. Guides will set up routes for participants and provide instruction on leading routes outside. Participants will spend the morning leading or mock leading routes as appropriate, setting up anchors, and lowering from climbs.

At midday, participants will learn about different considerations for cleaning anchors like when to lower versus when to rappel. Each participants will have an opportunity to practice rappelling on the ground and at the top of a climb. Participants will continue to be coached on movement throughout the afternoon as guides cycle through anchor cleaning/rappelling clinics. The day will end at 1600. Remember to ask your guides for feedback on next steps to grow your experience!

Rock Climbing Equipment List

BackpackDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Osprey Mutant 38 represents an excellent all around performer for Ice Climbing trips in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding San Juan backcountry.
Water BottlesDescriptionGuide's Pick
We recommend wide mouth Nalgene (or similar) water bottles for the majority of our programs. Two 1 liter bottles is the standard for days in the mountains.
Personal FoodDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lunch begins when breakfast ends and ends when dinner begins. Bring what you like to eat and consider the length, relative difficulty, weight, and other factors when deciding what to bring in the mountains with you. A variety is always best. Don't be afraid of Mr. T.
SunscreenDescriptionGuide's Pick
Essential for all of our programs. SPF 30 would be our minimum recommendation. Typically a 4 oz. bottle will suffice but consider trip length when deciding how much to pack.
Belay DeviceDescriptionGuide's Pick
A belay device is a required item on any of our technical climbing or mountaineering courses. While not necessary to have the Guide ATC specifically, we think owning one of these offers additional versatility as you progress and gain additional knowledge about the various levels of functionality provided by a device of this type.
HarnessDescriptionGuide's Pick
The BD Aspect Harness is a great all around performer for all types of climbing - ice, rock, alpine etc. The adjustable leg loops and integrated ice clipper loops make this a solid investment as your do-all harness.
Locking CarabinersDescriptionGuide's Pick
We recommend at minimum 2 - 3 personal locking carabiners on our climbing courses and any technical private guided program. We prefer classic screw gate carabiners over other types of locking mechanisms.
Climbing HelmetDescriptionGuide's Pick
A versatile, hybrid-shell helmet for lightweight protection in any discipline, the Vector features excellent ventilation and a ratcheting adjuster.

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.

Specific to the Gym to Sport Course – it is important the participants possess a good background understanding of basics climbing techniques as well as the ability to confidently top rope 5.8 or harder.

Before Your Trip

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

Follow Up Climbs


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.

plane-icon 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, however, many airlines now offer direct flights into Montrose – especially during the summer and winter months.

It is also possible to fly into Grand Junction, Durango, Telluride, or Denver CO. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of these airports.

suv-icon 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 minutes
  • Durango, CO: 2 hours
  • Denver, CO: 5.5 hours


hotel-icon-2 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!


Program Policies

Registration & Cancellation

Advance Registration is required for this program.  You have the option to either call our office and register via phone 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.


  • Guiding and Instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • Basic rock climbing gear (harness, helmet, rock shoes, etc.)



  • Transportation to Ouray, CO
  • Required participant gear including 3 locking carabiners, 1 belay device, 12 quickdraws, 1 48 inch nylon sling, cordelette (18′ of 7mm nylon)
  • Hotel costs before, during, or after the program
  • Guide gratuity
  • Lunch food or snacks
  • Personal hiking/climbing clothing
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance (recommended)
  • Costs associated with weather delays or other variables beyond the control of San Juan Mountain Guides

Book This Trip!

We Offer Online Registration

  1. Click on Book This Trip
  2. Select your Program dates
  3. Enter your Info and Payment


Or, call 800.642.5389 to register