Project Description

Backcountry Ice Climbing

(Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride)

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.

November 15 – March 15

Beginner to Advanced

1 person: $460
2 people: $327 per person

  • AMGA and IFMGA mountain guides
  • certified AMGA rock guide
  • AMGA certified rock guide
  • AMGA and IFMGA guides


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! Specific routes can be in great climbing shape one day, and out another…but there will always be something fantastic to climb!

Classic Colorado Ice Climbs

The following list is merely a selection of some of our favorites and is no means exhaustive. If you’d like more options, please reach out to us…there is more than a lifetime’s worth of routes here!

Slip Slidin’ Away (2 pitches, WI3)

Second Gully (4 pitches, WI3)

Choppo’s Chimney (2 pitches, WI4)

Horsetail Falls (4 pitches, WI4)

Whorehouse Hoses (4 pitches, WI 4-5)

Stairway to Heaven (6 pitches, WI4)


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.

Time and Place

These trips usually meet at our office at 280 7th Ave 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.

Getting to Ouray

Details on lodging/shuttles. We provide transportation from the office to the trailhead on the day of your trip.

Equipment List

All the technical climbing equipment required for this outing is included.

Rental Gear

If you’re interested in renting gear (but not hiring a guide).

Selected Ice Routes

Horsetail Falls WI4

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.

Second Gully

An excellent, long, and moderate ice climb just beyond the town of Silverton in Eureka. It’s about an hour drive to Eureka from Ouray, following by a 45 minute approach along a snow covered road. Second Gully is the quintessential first large ice climb. The route climbs WI 3 for a couple pitches and WI 2+ for the others. In the right conditions, the descent can be achieved with some moderate down climbing to the east or may require up to 4 double rope rappels from the same location.

Slip Slidin’ Away

This moderate multi-pitch climb lives in the Skylight area, a short drive beyond the Ouray Ice Park and about a 25 minute approach. Slip Slidin’ Away is an excellent route for the first time multi-pitch climber. It generally climbs pretty quick, so after finishing this route there are plenty of other single pitch or multi-pitch routes nearby to finish the day.

Choppo’s Chimney

Another Skylight classic that is one climb over from Slip Slidin’ Away. Choppo’s starts on a wide curtain of steep ice and slowly narrows down, finishing somewhat inside a chimney. The route exemplifies the true WI 4 rating. Being that it’s just one pitch, it’s a great way to finish a day at Skylight. A two rope rappel is the best way to get off.