* +3% land use surcharge
"I had an AWESOME time in Ouray ice climbing with Eric Frank! He is an amazing guide and person with remarkable skill and remarkable judgment. The Dexter Falls climb on Monday was one of the most fun experiences I have had in my whole life. Words cannot express how much he taught me and how much he has done for me. I greatly appreciate RMI. You folks are the best that life has to offer."
— Eric Y. | Read More Testimonials
This is the program we recommend for first time climbers. These courses take place in Colorado's San Juan Mountains, home to some of the best ice climbing in the lower 48. Our 2 Day Intro to Ice Climbing is the best way to become a proficient ice climber in a short period of time. Our guides will work with you over these two days with the goals of creating a confident and safe climber. We offer low client-to-guide ratios on this course (4:1) to make certain that you receive the most personalized instruction available to aid in your progression as an aspiring ice climber. We begin on low angled terrain and venture onto steeper terrain as climbers' comfort levels increase. Instruction will focus on standard ice climbing equipment and its use, proper technique (body positioning, footwork, tool placement), and belaying and rappelling for ice climbers.
Climber to Guide Ratio: 4 to 1
Day 1: Orientation and Basic Climbing Skills
|8:00 a.m.||Meet at the Ouray Victorian Inn Breakfast Room|
We introduce the team and guides for the program, discuss clothing and equipment, then distribute and fit rental gear. A short walk brings us to our training site for the course. We begin our training with a discussion about safe climbing practices and philosophy, a discussion we continue throughout the course. Leave No Trace ethics are discussed and practiced throughout the program as well. During the first part of the day our technical skills training consists of: French technique/flat footing skills on lower angle ice; working on balance over the feet, flat footing and then front pointing. The latter part of the day will be spent top-roping easier grades of ice to develop technique and the introduction of belaying.
Please make your own arrangements to stay in the area this evening.
Day 2: Rope Skills, Climbing Technique, and Intro to Ice Anchors
|8:00 a.m.||Meet at the Ouray Victorian Inn Breakfast Room|
We begin the morning with more top-roped climbs, gradually gaining confidence and increasing the difficulty of the climbing as individuals become more comfortable on the terrain. We introduce snow and ice anchors appropriate for the terrain, continue to work on our belaying skills, and introduce rappelling.
Intro to Ice Climbing Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI 2013.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
RMI provides, in affiliation with San Juan Mountain Guides (SJMG), the following personal equipment: harness, helmet, ice tools, crampons, ice boots, and belay/rappel device. If you already own these items please feel free to bring them with you to the course.
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should be warm and thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
GLACIER GLASSES: A pair of dark-lensed sunglasses with side shields or full wrap-type sunglasses.
Hands Guides' Pick
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves for protection against wind, snow and cold. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
Upper Body Guides' Pick
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top will be used as your base layer. Zip-neck styles will allow for better temperature regulation.
LIGHT INSULATING LAYER: A fleece or other insulation layer.
SOFT SHELL LAYER: A windproof, water-resistant and highly breathable layer.
HARD SHELL JACKET: A jacket made of rain/wind-proof material with an attached hood.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: Down or synthetic filled, it should fit over all of your clothing layers but does not need to be expedition weight.
Lower Body Guides' Pick
UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Light to medium weight synthetic bottoms.
CLIMBING PANT: Synthetic climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them alone on hot days, or in combination with the base layer on cold days. The thickness (insulation quality) should be based on how well you do in the cold and the temperatures expected on your climb.
HARD SHELL PANT: A pant made of breathable rain and wind-proof material will be needed. Full-length side zippers are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons in cold, inclement weather.
Feet Guides' Pick
ICE CLIMBING BOOTS: RMI provides, in affiliation with San Juan Mountain Guides (SJMG), ice climbing boots. Crampon compatible, insulated leather boots are the footwear of choice for ice climbing. Plastic boots can work as well. If you already own this item please feel free to bring them with you to the course.
GAITERS: A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampons on loose clothing.
2 PAIR SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Some people find liner socks useful for reducing friction.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 WATER BOTTLES: One-quart water bottles are required. Wide mouth bottles are ideal since their opening is less likely to freeze.
2 INSULATED WATER BOTTLE COVERS: These help prevent liquids from freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.
THERMOS: One-half liter capacity, maximum.
RMI provides, in affiliation with San Juan Mountain Guides (SJMG), the following personal equipment: harness, helmet, ice tools, crampons, ice climbing boots, and belay/rappel device. If you already own these items please feel free to bring them with you to the course.
Every guide on your program will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Guides have cell phones for emergency contact.
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Participant Information Form to the RMI Office.
Arrange Lodging in Ouray.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Arrange Transportation to Ouray.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
On the Introduction to Colorado Ice program you will need two trail lunches. Breakfasts and dinners are available in town at a variety of restaurants.
Your "lunches" are taken in the field throughout the day during your program. We suggest crackers, pizza, candy bars, jerky, chips, cookies, trail mix, fruits, Gu, energy bars, and hard candies. Drink mixes such as Gatorade and Kool-Aid help flavor your water. Add peanut butter, cream cheese, hard cheese, or pepperoni for additional calories and taste. If you enjoy bread items, bagels work well.
This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.
Physical Fitness Training
Ice climbing requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
Training for ice climbing should be as specific as possible. Here are some proven suggestions to get you ready for the physical challenge.
- Cardiovascular training (such as running and cycling) and strength and endurance training (such as weight training and stair climbing) should both be included in your program.
- Start cardiovascular training by running, biking, hill climbing, or using step machines. Keep your heart rate at a reasonably high level, but do not overdo it. Exercise for an hour or more per session. Three to four long training sessions per week are more beneficial than short daily workouts.
- Begin your strength training by working on muscle groups used in ice climbing. Specifically your calves, back, forearm and shoulder muscles.
- There is no better training for ice climbing than climbing ice. Unable to do that? Try getting into a local climbing gym or outside onto the rock for a couple of sessions a week. Boulder, top rope or lead climb. The muscles and balance used for rock climbing are the same used for ice climbing.
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
No acclimatization is necessary for this program.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide our clients with comprehensive travel support. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe. We have been working with Erin for the last 8 years, and she is very knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email at email@example.com.
Meet your guides at the Victorian Inn breakfast room. 50 Third Ave, Ouray CO 80427 (970)325-7222. Click here for map.
Ouray is located in the Southwest portion of Colorado. The town is located 70 miles North of Durango, 50 miles from Telluride, 40 miles from Montrose and 345 miles from Denver. The closest place to fly into is Montrose or Grand Junction (100 miles to the north). Driving times from Denver, Salt Lake City, or Albuquerque are all around seven hours.
You can rent a vehicle for the drive from the airport, share a ride, or find a local shuttle service.
Ride Share: If you are interested in sharing a ride, please go to our Message Board, then to "Carpool and Ride from Airport" and post your information.
Ouray Area Accommodations
Box Canyon Lodge: www.boxcanyonouray.com
Comfort Inn: www.ouraycomfortinn.com
Chalet Inn: www.ouraychaletinn.com
Victorian Inn: www.victorianinnouray.com
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which covers trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation and repatriation. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection if you have a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Check with the insurance provider for specific coverage details including adventure/sports coverage. Additional cancellation coverage may be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit. However, trip insurance can be purchased at any time prior to the start of your program.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
Weather and Route Conditions
Ouray is a very dry climate with mild winters and 300+ days of sunshine per year. Average winter temperatures are usually slightly above freezing. For updated Ouray weather forecasts, click here. For Ice Park conditions, click here. For the Ouray webcam, click here.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Ouray is a small Victorian town known for its natural hot springs, gorgeous alpine location, and ice. Ouray is located only 47 miles from Telluride, which offers world class lift-serviced skiing. Ouray also offers cross-country skiing, great restaurants, and shopping.
Payments are processed through San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC. A 50% deposit is required for all reservations. The balance is due on the first day of the course or trip.
San Juan Mountain Guides Policy: Cancellation must be made in writing no less than 60 days before first day of trip or course, otherwise your deposit will be forfeited. You can apply your trip deposit or fee toward a future trip or course that takes place within one year for a 15% re-booking fee. No refunds for weather related delays or weather related changes in trip itineraries. No credits or refunds for no shows or those leaving early. For cancellations made 60 days before first day of trip or course there is a 10% non-refundable handling fee for credit card deposits and payments.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
We also reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
Change of Date
Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 30 days prior to your departure date. A $50 fee will be charged per person for all date changes made more than 30 days prior to the program.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) and San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC (SJMG) cannot guarantee that you will be able to participate in all program activities. Weather, route conditions, or your own abilities may create circumstances that make participation or an ascent unsafe. Failure to participate or reach a summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s or San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC responsibility and will not result in a refund or reschedule.
Occasionally our teams encounter other climbers, whether guided or non-guided, who need assistance in the form of rescue or evacuation. We are morally obligated to assist these climbers when practical and safe to do so. This rendering of assistance may compromise your program and the possibility exists that your program or climb may be aborted. While rescues and evacuations occur very infrequently, such situations are beyond our control, and a refund will not be offered.