Top three reasons to go ice climbing in Ouray
Get lost in San Juan’s rugged and picturesque backcountry
Push your ice climbing skills further on Ice Park’s thrilling routes
Master the fundamentals of ice climbing in Ouray, the “Switzerland of America”
Hidden away at the heart of the San Juan Mountains, the old mining town of Ouray has recently struck a new vein—ice climbing. The mile-long Ouray Ice Park was equipped with a human-made and gravity-fed sprinkler system, maintaining around 140 world-class ice climbing routes ranging from newbie-friendly ascents to bone-chilling vertical challenges. And because the spectacular natural gorge housing the routes is basically in Ouray’s backyard, accessibility is not an issue. Add in San Juan’s majestic mountainous vistas to the mix and you get one of the most amazing ice climbing destinations in the States! Whether you’re looking to put on a harness for the first time or you’re someone who feels naked without their crampons, Ouray is the place to be.
Mid-December through mid-March
Colorado Springs, CO, is 5 hours away
Beginner to advanced
Choose how you spend your day
A Full Day of Ice Climbing With a Guide
Join your guide for a full day of customized ice climbing on over 140 routes! With easy access to routes for all ability levels, Ouray is the perfect place to learn about ice climbing or improve your proficiency on steeper, more challenging ice and mixed routes. Join a professional, friendly guide and let them tailor the day according to your skills and goals.
Intro to Ice Climbing
This three-day comprehensive ice climbing course in Ouray will have you taking down icy objectives in no time! Beginners will learn ice climbing fundamentals, such as proper gear usage, basic movement skills, constructing ice anchors, and much more. A professional instructor will accompany you on your climbs, choosing appropriate routes for you and keeping you safe on the ice. By the end of this course, you’ll be approaching WI3 and WI4 routes with confidence!
Mixed Climbing Course
If you’re an experienced climber looking to upgrade your skills to the next level, then this two-day course in Ouray is perfect for you! Learn advanced mixed climbing techniques and dry-tooling skills under the watchful eye of a seasoned local guide. Master advanced techniques and get ready to take on hardcore mixed climbing challenges such as Dukes of Hazzard (WI5/M6, 4 pitches) or Talisman (WI5/M6, 3 pitches)!
Itinerary and learning outcomes
Intro to Ice Climbing Course
This course is designed to give you a comprehensive introduction to the world of ice climbing, covering topics such as:
- gear selection
- ice climbing movement skills
- constructing ice anchors
- being a competent climber
- partnering for multi-pitch ice climbing objectives.
During 3 full days of guided ice climbing and professional instruction, you’ll learn the most efficient methods for climbing WI3-WI4 routes and become confident in your new skills.
Mixed Climbing Course
This course is intended for experienced climbers looking to broaden their abilities and learn the art of dry-tooling and mixed climbing. Learn about:
- efficient “quiet body” movement techniques
- ways to successfully transition from the rock to hanging daggers of ice
- thin or delicate ice climbing techniques.
The course will take place over 2 full days, focusing mostly on movement techniques with customized, detail-oriented instruction.
Meet your guide
Splitter Alpine Adventures
I was in Ouray and decided to book a last-minute ice climbing lesson. Having no climbing experience I was a little nervous and had unending questions. Micah was very patient and guided me through everything so I was able to build tons of confidence. His passion for climbing is contagious and I’d love to join on one of his adventures! I would definitely recommend him!
Micah taught me how to ice climb last year. I have used his guide service twice sense then. He has always picked great climbs for me that push my limit but I’m able to climb. Micah is incredibly patient and spends time teaching as much as you want to learn. I highly recommend using Micah for your next climbing adventure.
Things to know
Covid measures in Ouray, Colorado
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Ouray, Colorado, please refer to Colorado’s COVID-19 travel guidelines.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get on this adventure:
- An experienced, local ice climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- One to three full days of ice climbing or ice climbing courses depending on your chosen itinerary
- Group equipment (climbing rope, rock/snow/ice protection, anchor material)
What’s not included:
- Personal climbing gear
- Food and snacks
How fit do I need to be?
If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus but far from necessary. Ice climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up an ice wall using brute strength. To ensure you have a fun day, your guide will choose routes that best suit your skill and fitness level.
What if I’ve never ice climbed before?
Ouray has plenty of options for beginner ice climbers. Whether you’ve never climbed before or are transitioning from rock to ice, your guide will customize the day to suit your skill level and objectives. With a guide by your side, you’ll learn something new, stay safe on the ice, and most importantly, have fun!
For intermediate to advanced ice climbers, Ouray has loads of routes to spend the day on. Your guide will discuss your objectives and customize the day to your goals. Let your guide plan the day so you can focus on developing your skills while climbing the classic routes or best-hidden gems the area has to offer.
What about required equipment?
All group equipment will be provided by your guiding service and the rest can be rented. If you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:
- Climbing helmet (UIAA certified) — provided by the guide
- Vertical frontpoint crampons and crampon pouch — provided by the guide
- Technical ice tools — provided by the guide
- Harness — provided by the guide
- Tubular belay device with round bar stock locking carabiner — provided by the guide
- Sewn nylon sling (48 in/120 cm)
- Two or three locking carabiners and one or two non-locking carabiners — provided by the guide
- Two ice clippers
Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:
- Sun hat and warm hat thin enough to fit under the helmet
- Insulated parka
- Neck gaiter
- Synthetic underwear
- Heavyweight socks
- Mixed and softshell climbing gloves
- Midweight top base layer
- Heavyweight bottom base layer
- Midweight fleece jacket
- Midweight vest — optional
- Active insulation jacket
- Softshell jacket and pants
- Crampon-compatible mountaineering boots
- Snowshoes or approach skis — optional
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Small first aid kit
- Water bottle and 2L of water
- High-energy food and snacks you can eat on-the-go
- Knife — optional
- Hand warmers — optional
- Headlamp with fully charged batteries
- Climbing backpack (35 liters with ice tool attachments) — can be rented
Your guides will provide a more detailed equipment list before your trip. If rental gear is needed, please inform your guide of your specific needs in advance of the trip.
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- The max guest-to-guide ratio is 4:1.
- All pricing is per person.
- Costs per person decrease as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
Ice climbing days in Ouray can be arranged for bigger groups. Contact us prior to booking.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
If your group has ice climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Ouray, CO, most people fly into Denver International Airport 6 hours away. From there, you can rent a car and drive to Ouray. Alternatively, you can take a local flight to Montrose, CO and rent a car or take a shuttle to Ouray.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.