Backcountry Ice Climbing

The backcountry ice climbing in the San Juan Mountains around Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride has been an epicenter for ice climbing for decades, and for good reason. The climbs have short approaches, the ice is consistently reliable, and climbs for every ability.

COST
1 person: $460
2 people: $304 per person

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Overview


Ice climbing is an incredible “one-of-a-kind” sport that is largely dependent on conditions. The good news: a certified guide from Peak will know the best possible objectives given weather and conditions on any given day in the winter. 

Classic Colorado Ice Climbs

There is a lifetime’s worth of routes in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Among those routes are some of the most classic ice climbs in North America such as Stairway to Heaven, Bridal Veil Falls, and others. 

Early Season

The season in Ouray starts early. There is reliably ice formed by the second week of December. It's not uncommon for some backcountry routes to come in before Thanksgiving. If you have a the flexibility to come before the Christmas/New Year holiday the Ice Park may not yet be open but you'll have many of the climbing areas in the region to yourself.

Consistent Ice

Specific routes can be in great climbing shape one day, and out another…but one of the qualities that makes Ouray an international destination how consistently ice in this area forms. From early season to late into March we are fortunate to have very consistent conditions. The Ice Park is at a lower elevation and sees a significant amount of traffic. However, in the backcountry we can seek out the best conditions by going to higher elevations or by avoiding the crowds in general.

Details


Group Size

This is a private program, no one else will be paired with your party. If your group is larger than 2, we apply a group discount and additional guides are added to keep the guest to guide ratio at 2:1 or lower.

Season

December 1 – March 31

Time and Place

These trips usually meet at our office at 480 Main Street in Ouray at 7:30am in the morning. However, based on conditions and objectives, the time and place to meet often is unique to the day.

Equipment List

All the technical climbing equipment required for this outing is included.
View equipment list as a PDF

Selected Routes


Horsetail Falls

A great Ouray classic just a short two minute drive up Highway 550. We park on the side of the highway and make a 5 minute descent into the canyon. After crossing the river, it’s a few more minutes of walking, before racking up to start the steep WI 4 start, which is the crux. The subsequent pitches ease off and make an incredibly enjoyable outing. The descent require some easy down climbing and one short rappel.

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Skylight Area

There is a 3 pitch route named Skylight for which this area is named. Along Camp Bird Road are a number of single and mulit-pitch climbs a short approach from the winter road closure. Choppo's Chimney, Slip Sliding Away, Skylight, and Chockstone Chimney are great climbs in addition to numerous mixed and dry tool routes.

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Eureka

North of Silverton is a ghost town of an abandoned mine called Eureka. The Eureka zone is host to several ultra classic climbs such as Stairway to Heaven, Whorehouse Hoses, and Dukes of Hazard (plus too many more to list). This area is higher in elevation and generally much colder than the Ouray area and the climbs tend to be greater in length.

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South Mineral Creek

On the south side of Red Mountain Pass, the South Mineral Creek zone is accessible early in the season before the road closes (November - mid December). The most consistent early season ice in the San Juan's can be found here. Campground Couloir, The Direct North Face, and Snowblind are only a few of the awesome routes here.

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Contact Us

Peak Mountain Guides, LLC
160 Liddell St. #C3 | Ridgway CO 81432
PO Box 2051 | Ridgway CO 81432

Authorized Permittee

Peak Mountain Guides is an authorized permittee of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forest; San Juan National Forest; Bureau of Land Management Monticello, Moab, Gunnison, and Glennallen Field Offices; Eldorado Canyon State Park; Ouray Ice Park, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks; and National Parks including Mt. Rainier, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Colorado National Monument. Peak Mountain Guides is an equal opportunity service provider.