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Colorado Ice - Introduction

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Colorado Ice - Introduction

Colorado Ice - Introduction

The ideal program for first time ice climbers. Spend two days in Ouray, Colorado learning the skills and techniques of ice climbing.


  • Experience the thrill of climbing frozen waterfalls using crampons and ice tools.
  • Learn all the skills necessary to confidently belay and lower climbers.
  • Learn ice climbing techniques under the guidance of an experienced RMI guide on routes up to Water Ice 4.

This is the ideal course for first time ice climbers. The course takes place in Colorado's San Juan Mountains, home to some of the best ice climbing in the United States. Our two-day course teaches participants how to become proficient ice climbers in a short period of time. By the end of this course you will be familiar with setting up a top rope climbing system, be able to confidently belay a climbing partner, and be able to climb Grade 3-4 ice climbs. Our guides work with you over these two days with the goals of creating a confident and safe climber.

The course begins on low angled terrain and ventures onto steeper terrain as climbers' comfort levels increase. Instruction focuses on standard ice climbing equipment and its use, proper technique (body positioning, footwork, tool placement), and belaying and rappelling for ice climbers.


The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America's first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.

Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains, and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.

Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our courses truly memorable.


RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful course without compromising safety. Each course includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the trip. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI's top priority.

Our ice courses are taught in the Durango, Silverton, and Ouray areas in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. This is a program organized by Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. and led exclusively by San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC (SJMG). SJMG is based in Ouray, Colorado, and is an authorized permit holder in the San Juan National Forest, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests under priority use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

Climber Reviews

Filter By
just the overall experience
Jason S.

The Ice Park is such an amazing public resource right in town. I really wish I lived closer to take greater advantage of it.
Michael D.

Elias set a nice tone and everything fell into place. I appreciated and enjoyed the organization, expertise, and the positive attitude of all involved.
Chris C.

The adventure of ice climbing. Really learned a lot in a couple of days!
Tamara B.

Location and opportunity in Ouray to do so much.
Michael S.

I really liked the experience of tackling something new for me with such an competent crew: Elias and Andreas.
Scott W.

  • Upcoming Climbs

    • Please call our offices at 1-888-892-5462 to inquire about availability.
  • Price
    2 days
    Level 1
    Ice Climbing
Table of Contents
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Day 1


7:30 a.m Meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides Headquarters (725 Main Street, Ouray, CO)

We introduce the team and guides for the program, discuss clothing and equipment, then distribute and fit 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


7:30 a.m. Meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides Headquarters (725 Main Street, Ouray, CO)

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.



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Travel Consultant

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 traveler's across the globe. We have been working with Erin for many years and she is very knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email at etravel@cox.net.

Travel Insurance

We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.

Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.

*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.

For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.

AIG Travel Guard

Erin Rountree


Getting There

Meet your guides at the San Juan Mountain Guides Headquarters (725 Main Street, Ouray, CO).

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

Weather and Route Conditions

Ouray has 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.

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This trip is open to all adventurers in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.

  • Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life
    And Then Go
    Climb A Mountain

    Create A Fitness And Training Program

    Go To Fitness Resources

Physical Fitness Training

Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains 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.

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What You’ll Need

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.

  • RMI Climbers Get 10% Off
    All New Equipment At
    Whittaker Mountaineering

Shop Your Equipment List

Equipment List

    • 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.


      You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.

    • Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.


      Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.

    • We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.

    • We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


      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.


      We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • MEALS

      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.


      Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.

    • CAMERA

      One-half liter capacity, maximum.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Purchase airplane tickets.

    • Arrange lodging in Ouray.

    • Arrange transportation to Ouray.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

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.

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On the Colorado Ice Climbing - Introduction program you will need two mountain 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.

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Payment in full is due at time of reservation. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, e-check, or check.


Once we receive written notification that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply:

  • A fee of $50 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 60 days before departure.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 60 days before your program.

Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.

Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.

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 for a $25 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 30 days before departure.

Risk Management

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.

Climber Responsibilities

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

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 programs are assessed on an individual basis.

General Policies

Any Participant under the age of 18 must be accompanied on the trip by a parent or legal guardian and both the Participant and parent or legal guardian must sign all forms.

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).

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.

The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality service provided to the Participant by others in connection with the trip, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, and motor vehicle operators, and that RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program.

RMI recommends and strongly advises that the Participant have or purchase personal life, medical, accident, travel, baggage, trip cancellation, and other insurance that may pertain to participation in the program. The Participant understands that RMI provides no such insurance coverage in connection with the trip.

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